Age: 29

Where are you from? I’m a mixture of South-East and North-West, but genealogically mostly from the South-West, and have also spent time living in the Midlands, the North-East and south Wales.

Where do you live now? Currently I divide my time between a guesthouse in Whitehaven and the family home near Lancaster. Owing to Whitehaven’s compactness, I can be filling up on toast just moments before appearing at my desk, which has to count as one of the UK’s best commutes.

Where do you work? I’m Copeland’s conservation and design officer, advising on developments and applications relating to historic buildings in the Copeland Centre, in the development management team. This is next to other related teams, which is very helpful as we’re all engaged in overlapping lines of work so have plenty of opportunity for adventitious idea-swapping.

How long have you done this job? Fourteen months.

Take us through a typical day: I arrive at work and go through my emails. These typically fall under one of three categories:

1. Can I put plastic windows in this listed house?

2. Can you send me a planning form or answer a technical planning question? (these I refer to my planning colleagues).

3. Can you come around and look at this old, complex building and give us some advice on the changes we want to make?

The day could include site visits, meeting home owners, conducting research using old maps or photos, and attending meetings on a wide range of subjects relating to our historic fabric and its place in regeneration.

What do you like most about the job? Old buildings are a fascinating subject and every day involves either meeting someone or learning a new aspect about our past, and particularly the journey Whitehaven has taken over the centuries.

What do you like least? It’s an unfortunate side-effect of living and working in two different counties, but in winter, at the end of the week, having to make a two-and-a-half hour drive through the darkness and lashing rain can wear a bit thin. But it’s just once a week.

Why did you want to do this job? The opportunities offered in Copeland are rather different than those I saw being offered in other areas. There are chances here to contribute more broadly than might otherwise have been the case. Speaking generally, I became interested in historic buildings in the course of writing a PhD thesis on the architecture of public libraries, so it was a natural step from there.

What jobs have you done previously? I used to work as a research associate for the Creative Economy Team at Cardiff University, where I ran a small project on “embedded creatives” – people that work creative jobs but are not in creative industries. I’ve also done a couple of stints as research assistant on other university projects, did an internship with Cardiff University Enterprise, which brought enterprise education to Cardiff’s students and helped them with business start-ups, and university customer service. I also worked in the University of York’s main library for a while.

What qualifications or experience do you need? By and large, you need an MA or MSc in historic building conservation. A bachelor’s degree is unlikely to be sufficiently specialist, and any work experience or other degrees you can get beyond the master’s will certainly help. Working towards accreditation with the Institute of Historic Building Conservation is also advised.

What is a typical salary for this job? It starts at quite a modest amount, as you might expect. A junior or assistant conservation officer could expect be on something in the mid to high twenty thousand range. A full conservation officer will typically be somewhere in the thirties, with senior conservation officers breaking into the £40,000 range. Of course, there is the potential for greater riches in other heritage-related fields, particularly managing in some of our larger organisations.

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Know it exists. This may seem strange but three years ago I didn’t actually know a “conservation officer” was a thing people could do, probably as the first contact most people have with us is when they become a homeowner. Getting a conservation master’s degree is likely to be the best way – it can be done in as little as a year.