Antique Restoration Education and Training Program Overviews

There are various ways to become trained in the technical aspects of antique restoration. Learn more about coursework, degree programs, career outlook and salaries in the field of antique restoration.

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Essential Information

Furniture restoration training teaches woodworking and finishing techniques for the restoration of wooden antique items. The art of refinishing aims to restore each item to its original quality without sacrificing its historical value. Because antique restoration often involves fixing and refinishing antique items, learning traditional building and refinishing skills can create an understanding of how old furniture was built and how to optimally restore it. Formal education and training specifically in antique restoration is rare, though woodworking, carpentry and furniture restoration are common program fields.

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Program Coursework

Students of furniture restoration and finishing programs engage in hands-on training to learn repair and finishing methods, such as removing, applying and reapplying stains and finishing oils. Students may also learn how to properly handle and care for antique wooden items and make small repairs. Possible topics of study include:

  • Wood finishing techniques
  • Antique furniture conservation
  • Spot repair
  • Woodworking
  • Furniture making

Specialized training in antique restoration, such as private-sector classes and apprenticeships, is rare in the United States, but is available in some locations. Classes may focus on restoring specific antique objects, such as antique clocks.

College classes focusing on antique restoration may be offered as electives within a degree program, such as interior design, historic preservation, art history and fine arts. Or, students might complete an undergraduate or graduate degree program in historic conservation or preservation; these programs are sometimes geared towards those who wish to go into museum conservation. Employers do not always require a degree for conservator positions, but they typically require previous experience.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported annual median salaries of $40,340 for museum technicians and conservators, who might restore art, textiles and artifacts, and $29,200 for furniture finishers, who often work with antiques. The BLS predicted average growth of 5% for museum technicians and conservators from 2014-2024 and a decline in employment, -2%, for furniture finishers (www.bls.gov).

Furniture restoration training equips students with restoration techniques through courses such as antique furniture conservation, spot repair, and woodworking. Possible careers include museum conservation and furniture finishing.

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