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Subject: Salaries

Salaries

From: Suzanne Davis <davissl>
Date: Tuesday, April 29, 2003
As part of Naomi Kroll's class of "young conservators," I think she
is correct in her statements about why it can be difficult for even
newly-minted conservators to re-locate. Having spent many years
studying and working on the east coast, I accepted a position at a
Mid-western institution two years ago. I have a wonderful job with a
good salary and excellent benefits. I was able to easily make this
move because I was single, with no dependents. However, I want to
add to this discussion that I am far from certain that all
conservators in the Midwest have the nice employment package I do.
And, contrary to previous discussion, I have not seen many
conservation positions advertised in the Midwest for the type of
conservation I practice--objects conservation.

Most museums in the Midwest face the same budgetary pressures as
other museums across the country, and I do not think that a
willingness to move to any discrete region can be presented as a
solution that addresses the need for higher salaries for everyone in
our profession. Conservators deserve good salaries no matter where
they live and work.

One thing that I plan to do about this, and I hope that my fellow
"young conservators" will join me, is to fight for higher salaries
for myself and for my subordinates. I suspect that many
conservators, who are at heart artists, historians, and scientists,
are put off by the idea of asking for better compensation.
Negotiating a higher salary requires us to prove and argue our worth
in a way that many of us might find uncomfortable, and it requires
us to ask for more of an institution's limited resources, which is
something we might worry about altruistically. However, I do not
think we should be ashamed to argue for better financial
compensation for the work that we do, no matter what part of the
country we do it in. As we continue in our careers, I hope that my
generation of conservators will not accept the status quo, as we are
often encouraged to do, but will strive for raises when our work
merits them. I hope we will compare salaries amongst ourselves and
use this information in salary negotiations. I hope we will work
very hard to obtain the best salaries, benefits, and positions
possible for the conservators and lab assistants we hire.

In addition, we can, and should, support the requests of our
superiors for better compensation and try harder to make sure they
are receiving the recognition they deserve within the institutions
where we work. It is my hope that my generation of conservators will
be especially determined throughout our entire careers to fight for
higher salaries in museums and other institutions, so that the next
generation of conservators will be paid much better, even when they
are fresh out of school.

Suzanne Davis
Conservator
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology


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Received on Tuesday, 29 April, 2003

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