The government comprises the largest source of employment for historic preservationists, the majority of which fall under the auspices of the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS monitors the work of division offices such as the National Register of Historic Places, the National Historic Landmarks Program, and the Historic American Buildings Survey. Other employment opportunities exist with state and local government agencies, private consulting firms, and nonprofit groups.
A college education is required for most jobs in preservation, but work experience is highly valued as well. Most graduates begin their career during an internship as a research assistant for a restoration site or archeology project. Other entry-level jobs at the NPS, for example, include researchers and writers for various educational programs for museums and schools, industry journals, and publications written for the general public.
Career advancement can be achieved with relevant work experience and additional training. Many preservationists move on to work or manage larger projects within their specific expertise or special interest (say, the Spanish influence in the Southwest or preserving landmarks found along the famous Route 66).
Experienced preservationists may also advance to positions in the private sector. Many businesses such as architectural firms or law firms specializing in the housing market may not be interested in restoration but still desire skilled professionals with knowledge of the National Register. Some preservationists, especially those interested in the legal side of restoration, opt to pursue a law degree specializing in restoration law. Some law schools offer a dual degree in law and a preservation-related field such as urban planning.
Tips for Entry
During high school, volunteer at a historic preservation organization or museum in your area.
Visit the Web sites of famous historical sites, such as the Hermitage (http://www.thehermitage.com) or Mount Vernon (http://www.mountvernon.org), to learn more about historic preservation.
Look for summer internship programs with a museum, historic site, or historic preservation consulting firm.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: