Consider a career in construction and you’ll likely envisage a future working mainly on new-build sites. But it’s worth noting that much of the built environment in the UK consists of buildings that are many centuries old and these need a considerable amount of care and maintenance to remain in good order.
If you are thinking of starting a career in the construction industry and fancy something out of the ordinary, or if you are already working in construction and looking for a new direction then why not consider the opportunities available in ancient building repair and conservation? Career paths are varied but you could be employed as an historic building inspector or conservation officer for the likes of English Heritage, The National Trust, a Local Authority or The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
There are specialised courses available at various levels including Higher National certificates and diplomas, Foundation Degrees and Masters (MSc) Degrees.
Attaining a higher national certificate or diploma in building conservation could be a first step to professional career in this sector and is suitable for school leavers as well as people working in a traditional craft role who are thinking of advancing their careers. These specialist courses are, at present, only available in Scotland although the standard construction HNC will be accepted as a route to further study for the foundation degree.
Building Conservation Foundation Degrees are offered via a small number of Universities and colleges in the UK, usually over two years, with a top-up year for the full degree by some providers.
These courses don’t always go by the same name – for instance The Heritage Construction and Conservation Management (FdSc) is available via Craven College with the University of Bradford, while the Foundation Degree in Historic Building Conservation is available via Kingston University, London.
Weymouth College also offer a Foundation Degree in Science: Applied Architectural Stonework & Conservation which is a 2 year course.
Providers will often have good links with local projects and there will usually be an opportunity for practical work experience. Upon completion of the course you may choose to study further for a Master’s Degree and/or apply for professional accreditation.
Masters Degree courses are available throughout the UK. For direct entry you’ll need to have already achieved a degree in a relevant subject or have completed the foundation degree. Portsmouth University offer the MSc in Historic Building Conservation and this is a 1 year full-time or 2 year part-time course.
There is a list of accredited courses available via the IHBC website.
It’s worth noting that there is more than one professional accreditation standard for those working in building conservation. The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) is the principal professional body for building conservation practitioners and historic environment specialists.
However, it’s worth mentioning that The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Building Conservation Accreditation is the scheme accredited by English Heritage – so you may need to consider your options carefully before committing to a particular course of study.
- Society for the Protection of Old Buildings (SPAB) – Education & Training
- BuildingConservation.com – List of undergraduate courses
- The Heritage Directory – Post Graduate Courses
- UnderstandingConversation.org – Educational resource for conservation practitioners seeking accreditation