22 Mar 2022

Icon Salaries Survey and Roundtable Event

It is clear from the anecdotal evidence that Icon receives via direct feedback and through our Groups and Networks, that conservators’ salaries are strongly viewed as not in line with the levels that members expect. This is based on the high level of technical skill and depth of knowledge that is required in order to perform the role.

As a membership organisation and the professional body for the conservation profession (rather than a trade union), we have limited ability to influence the job market or employment practices. Nevertheless, Icon remains committed to supporting professional conservators, heritage scientists and others where we can in advocating for fair remuneration ­– this is clearly a very important issue for our members.

We recognise that to be able to effectively advocate for, and support the conservation profession, campaigns and consultation responses must be supported by accurate and reliable data. Data is also necessary to inform decision-making on areas of policy related to pay and reward. This is why we undertook a survey of the salary levels of professional conservators in late 2021, to give us and others the evidence based that is needed to support effective advocacy in this area.

In designing the survey, we recognised the great degree of varied responsibilities associated with job titles across the profession, and as such we chose to focus on the core competencies and levels of responsibilities of conservators in conducting our research. Through the survey we identified that:

  • The average salary was £31,814, with the half of the respondents earning within a relatively small range of between £26,000 and £35,759 per year.
  • The most significant factors shown to influence the salary levels of professionals were shown to relate to broader professional skills, such as financial responsibility and people management.
  • There appears to be a mismatch between the responsibilities and knowledge expected of jobs, and the job titles assigned to the roles.

In taking this issue forward, Icon is actively seeking ideas for practical steps that we could take to address the problem and will continue to support the excellent work of lobbying organisations such as Fair Museum Jobs. We will also continue to provide support and guidance where we can, including revising our minimum salary guidelines. We will work closely with our members and our sector partners to advocate for fair levels of remuneration that are in line with those expected by a highly skilled and technical profession.

Icon is organising an event, open to Icon members to explore the themes raised in this report which will help generate further ideas that Icon is able to take on board. We hope to also identify areas where we can work with sector partners to effectively support the issue of fair remuneration for professional conservators.

The event will take place on 16th June 2022. We wish to ensure that there is a good representation from across the profession at the event. As such, we ask that those who wish to take part complete the following survey - names will be drawn at random from the categories listed in the link.

Take part in the event by completing your details here >>