How Do I Become An Archivist?

An archivist is a professional whose work involves handling the documents, organizing them, and depending on the person, preserving them as well. They may be called upon to determine the provenance or importance of a given document, and they are often also in charge of maintaining the collection as a whole.

What Is Life Like For an Archivist?

Most archivists are employed by museums and libraries, though there are definitely avenues for employment that involve the government, institutions of higher learning and corporations. While archivists are commonly known for working with old documents or documents that need to be handled carefully, their field of study may take them into any arena that involves the preservation of documents in general, whether they are in a physical or digital format.

Someone who is interested in a career as an archivist should have a good eye for detail, a good memory, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to process information quickly.

Educational Requirements

In most cases, archivists hold bachelor’s degrees in history or library science. These fields of study allow them to assess the value of the documents that they are holding as well give them a set of criteria for judging the document’s worthiness to be included in a given collection. While a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields is considered a good start, there are definitely some organizations, especially those related to the fields of higher education or governmental administration, that require an master’s degree or a doctorate. An archivist may have between four to eight years of schooling that will prepare them for their career. In many cases, some experience with libraries or archives in general is required.

When a candidate is searching for a position as an archivist, any experience with a location that deals with documents and preservation is important. Some people get this experience through volunteering at different archives while others take part time jobs at these institutions. Though there are many positions that require a degree, there are many others with similar responsibilities that do not. The more contact a candidate has with an archive of any sort, the more likely it is that they will get hired.

Working as an Archivist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for an archivist is around 45,200 dollars per year or 21.73 dollars per hour. In terms of job opportunities, the need for archivist is expected to rise, and getting a job typically involves scanning university employment sites, government employment sites or corporate job sites. These opportunities are more common in urban areas, and depending on the specialty, the archivist may need to move for the best job opportunities.

The work of an archivist is varied. Depending on the position chosen, he or she may be called upon to acquire new materials for a collection, to process new materials so that it can be accessible in the collection or helping people access the collection. Some specialized archivist are skilled in maintaining the physical documents themselves, both in terms of repair and day to day upkeep. Archivists need to be comfortable with the various technologies used to curate their collections.