For example, if you have a background in fine arts, you may restore damaged paintings, sculptures and textiles. Other preservationists serve in an administrative role. Some preservationists develop public awareness campaigns to educate visitors about protected items. The diversity of the field attracts people with diverse interests and specializations.
“[Preservationists] help us understand who we are, that without a past we have no grounding in terms of the decisions that we make now and in the future,” says Dr. Peter Van Cleave, clinical assistant professor of history and director of online programs at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. “There’s a sense of why we need history, why we need to preserve documents, to understand how things were, why they changed and how they can be changed for the better.”
Preservationists usually find jobs at cultural heritage institutions and nonprofit organizations. These employers need people who know how to interact with historically valuable objects. What may be a surprise is that many in this line of work don’t directly handle these items on a daily basis. Instead, historic preservationists often create and maintain detailed records. They also oversee the logistics of acquiring and storing new artifacts. Additionally, they contract insurance policies and create risk management procedures. Most administration-based historic preservation jobs require close attention to detail. Preservationists also need significant subject matter expertise and an aptitude for organizational thinking. Above-average reading and writing proficiencies are also desirable.
This occupation requires technical experience. An online Master of Arts in history can help you gain this experience and be competitive in the job market. A graduate degree in history can prepare you with research techniques, and functional and practical skills. Most graduate programs offer classes in historical methods, global history and cultural studies. They also offer a wide selection of electives that touch on particular time periods. Electives can help you identify career options in the field of history. They may even teach you how to get a job in historic preservation!