Careers in painting restoration generally require at least a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and many jobs require a master’s degree plus experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states: "When hiring conservators, employers look for a master's degree in conservation or in a closely related field, together with substantial experience." Painting restorers also need good knowledge of art history and chemistry, and should ideally have specialized knowledge of the type of painting or period they work with. Art restoration can be very slow moving and time consuming; candidates should be patient and meticulous.
A career in painting restoration involves taking original paintings that have been damaged over time due to neglect, weather or other factors, and restoring them to their original brilliance. Painting restorers may repair nicks and scratches, clean painting surfaces, and repaint parts of an artwork by matching the colors as closely as possible to the original. The salary for this career varies according to a candidate's educational background, experience, industry, and employer location.
Painting restorers are paid either an hourly rate or a one-time contract fee, according to InsideJobs. Their salary ranges from $29,270 to $64,180 per year, with the average salary being $44,160. The most experienced and educated painting restorers, those with years of experience and advanced degrees under their belt, tend to make the highest salaries.
Museum Technicians and Conservators
Painting restorers fall within the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics category of museum technicians and conservators. This larger group earned a median annual wage of $37,310 and an average salary of $41,940, according to May 2010 statistics from the BLS. Museum technicians and conservators -- those working in art museums on paintings as well as those in other types of museums -- averaged from $24,440 or less in the lowest 10th percentile, to up to $68,250 or more in the highest 90th percentile. The location with the largest number of people in this field is Washington, D.C., followed by Maryland.
Jobs in this career are expected to grow faster than average in the coming decade, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, who estimates a 20 percent increase between 2008 and 2018 for all museum technicians and conservators. Competition is steep for conservators and painting restorers, however, and only qualified, experienced individuals should expect to find work easily. The BLS points out that restorers who can speak a foreign language and are willing to relocate may have an easier time finding employment.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Archivists, Curators, and Museum Technicians
- CareerAge.com: Art Restoration
- Inside Jobs: Restoration Artist
- Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010: 25-4013 Museum Technicians and Conservators
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