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Subject: Salaries

Salaries

From: Jeremy Wells <jeremy>
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2003
I am currently finishing up my first year as a graduate student
studying architectural conservation and am concerned about the
implications of this topic. I left a career in computers so that I
could find something that gave me greater job satisfaction. From the
content of this message, it sounds like many new entrants into the
field may have to leave because of financial issues.

Is the low pay a post 9-11 phenomenon? If so, all non-profit
organizations are hurting as funds are awfully hard to come by. If
this is a much longer term trend, then other factors must be at
work.

Employee compensation is a function of supply and demand. If there
is a dearth of trained professionals in a field, then the salary for
these professionals goes up. The converse is also true: too many
trained professionals in a field will drive salaries down. For
example, one of the main reasons that computer professionals get
paid well is because their skills are in high demand and there isn't
enough people to meet the demand. Since 9-11, computer
professionals' salaries have gone down substantially because of
layoffs; there is now more supply in the market.

So the issue comes down to two questions:

    1.  Are there too many conservation professionals?
    2.  Is there a lack of demand for conservation services?

If you solve one of these problems, salaries will inevitably
increase. Personally, I would rather attack option #2. In my
somewhat limited experience, I have found that many institutions
(for-profit and non-profit) that deal with material culture do not
really understand proper conservation techniques nor do they have
professionals on staff that can deal with these issues. The
individuals in management who make the decisions about their
organizations do not fully understand the benefits of conservation
in protecting, interpreting, and preserving cultural heritage.

One of the best ways to increase the demand for conservation
professionals may be to educate the directors of institutions that
deal with cultural heritage. This includes traditional non-profits
as well as for-profit companies such as architectural firms. In my
field, conservation is often overlooked in rehab and restoration
projects--replacement with new material is usually the option
frequently pursued. Many for-profit companies could use conservation
services, but don't because they do not realize it is an option. The
for-profit sector is where the money is, yet its potential has not
been fully explored.

How feasible would it be for conservation-related organizations to
collaborate and do a massive advertising campaign that would
describe conservation and its benefits? Such an activity could only
help our field as a whole and increase demand for our services. As a
side effect, salaries would increase proportional to the demand.

Jeremy


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:61
                 Distributed: Wednesday, April 16, 2003
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Received on Saturday, 12 April, 2003

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