Skye, education officer at the SPAB, writes about her work experience in the heritage sector, gaining her PGCE, and the most challenging moment on her career path.
Education, training and research
Category A – Lecturers, Tutors, Trainers on CPD Courses
Typically, careers in this category are preceded by some years practising as a specialist or craftsperson, in order to develop expertise in the industry. If you are considering taking this route, it is worth developing contacts with universities, colleges or organisations like the SPAB who run training courses for professionals.
University lecturers often get involved with teaching for the first time whilst researching for a PhD, though industry experience can be just as valuable as academic qualifications. You may spend some time as a visiting lecturer for several universities before applying for a permanent role on the academic staff.
Anyone teaching in the further education sector, including college tutors, needs to gain a Level 3 Certificate in Education and Training during their first year of teaching. For many jobs, already having this qualification is a condition of applying. You must then go on to gain a Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training within five years. These qualifications can often be gained via distance study or short courses, so are suitable for those already in work.
Tutors or speakers on CPD courses rarely need any kind of teaching qualification, though it is important to be comfortable speaking in front of groups. More significant is the range and depth of your experience and knowledge, as you will often be teaching other professionals. It is rare to be able to make a career based solely on leading short conservation courses, but it may complement other work well.
Category B – Education staff at heritage sites
Many education staff start their careers with a teaching qualification, such as a PGCE, or study for a specific postgraduate qualification in museum education or heritage interpretation. Some will go directly into the heritage sector, whilst others work as teachers first, usually in a related subject such as history, geography or design technology.
If you don’t have a teaching background, you may still be able to find an educational role, but will need to gain experience in other ways, such as volunteering to help with educational events or crafts workshops. Some short courses do exist, but are usually aimed at those already working at a museum or heritage site. The Level 3 Certificate in Education and Training might be an option if you don’t want to commit to a full teaching qualification, but note that it only covers ages 16 and up. Knowledge of the National Curriculum is important for success in these roles.
Category C – Researchers, building physicists, materials scientists
Academic institutions, heritage organisations and consultancies often employ research staff who investigate different aspects of the technical side of building conservation. Like university lecturers, researchers and building scientists are usually already qualified and have a few years work in professional practice before moving into research. Roles within academic institutions will often start with doctoral research. Occasional opportunities arise for technical researchers for organisations such as Historic England, the Scottish Lime Centre Trust or Historic Environment Scotland. Other researchers may join or set up a consultancy, where they offer their services to other organisations that do not have their own research teams (see Category B under Specialists for more information).