How to Become an Archivist

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


Archives are collections of historical documents and records that can be useful for uncovering many events and facts from the past. Many people use archives for research for a variety of different purposes. Archivists are required to collect, evaluate, organize, preserve, maintain, and give access to archives.

What does an archivist do?

Archivists work for many different organizations such as museums, corporations, colleges and universities, zoos, governments, and other places that need experts to preserve and maintain important artifacts and records. They preserve and maintain important documents and objects such as historic items, art works, photographs, meeting transcripts, letters, electronic data, living and preserved animals and plants, and stamps and coins. They plan and supervise the arrangement, classification, and display of collections. They obtain and preserve important documents and other items of value for permanent display or storage. They also explain, catalogue, and examine valuable documents and artifacts for the public to research.

Archivists often plan educational and public outreach programs including workshops, tours, lectures, and classes. They may also research certain topics that are related to their collections.

What kind of training does an archivist need?

Archivists typically need a graduate degree in library science or history with supporting courses in archival science and sufficient related work experience. Many colleges and universities offer practical training or courses in archival techniques. Many archivists complete apprenticeships or internships to help gain acceptance into graduate programs. Many archivists work in museums or archives to gain practical experience while they are completing their education.

Many archivists receive voluntary certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists. To gain certification applicants must have a minimum of a master degree and at least 1-year or related archival experience. Applicants must also pass a written examination. Certifications must also be renewed occasionally.

What are the prospects for a career as an archivist?

Employment of archivists is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 18% through 2016 (1). Job opportunities will arise as public and private organizations need organization and access to information and records.

Job prospects are expected to be favorable with keen competition because the number of applicants exceeds the number of job openings. Archivists with highly specialized training and extensive experience will have the best prospects.

How much do archivists make?

As of 2012, the middle 50% of archivists earned annual salaries between $41,068 and $50,743. The top 10% earned annual salaries of more than $58,667 (2).

A career as an archivist is an excellent choice for individuals who have a genuine interest in archives. Good analytical ability and research skills are also essential to understand document content and how the content was created. Archivists must be able to make sense of poor quality printed or deteriorated material, films, photographs, or handwritten manuscripts. Archivists must also be well organized and write clear instructions for people to retrieve and use archives.

Becoming an Archivist Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

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Are you serious about becoming an Archivist? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Course Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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