What is an Archivist? Job Description, Salary and More


What do archivists do

Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents.

What Archivists Do

  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials
  • Preserve and maintain documents and objects
  • Create and manage a system to maintain and preserve electronic records
  • Organize and classify archival materials
  • Safeguard records by creating film and digital copies
  • Direct workers to help arrange, exhibit, and maintain collections
  • Set and administer policy guidelines concerning public access to materials
  • Find and acquire new materials for their archives

Archivists preserve important or historically significant documents and records. They coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, lectures, and classes. They also may work with researchers on topics and items relevant to their collections.

Some archivists specialize in a particular era of history so that they can have a better understanding of the records from that period.

Archivists typically work with specific forms of documentation, such as manuscripts, electronic records, websites, photographs, maps, motion pictures, or sound recordings.

Archivists’ Work

Archivists held about 6,560 jobs in 2019 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Depending on the size of the institution and the position archivists may spend time either at a desk or with the public, providing reference assistance and educational services.

Work Schedules 

Archivists in government agencies and corporations generally work during regular business hours.

How to Become an Archivist

Archivists typically need a master’s degree in history, library science, archival studies, political science, or public administration.

Students may gain valuable archiving experience through volunteer or internship opportunities.

Archivist Salary

Archivists made an average annual salary of $57,500 as of May 2019.

They made a median salary of $53,950. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,879, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,350.

Job Outlook

Employment of archivists is projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Demand for archivists is expected to increase, as public and private organizations require that more volumes of records and information be organized and made accessible.

The growing use of electronic records may cause an increase in demand for archivists who specialize in electronic records and records management.

More Information About Archivists

For information about archivists and about schools offering courses in archival studies, visit

Society of American Archivists

For more information about archivists and archivist certification, visit

Academy of Certified Archivists

For information about government archivists, visit

Council of State Archivists

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Archivist Job Search Tools

Archivist Resume Sample

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Other Job Titles

  • Archival Records Clerk
  • Archivist
  • Film Archivist
  • Museum Archivist
  • Museum Registrar
  • Records Manager
  • Reference Archivist
  • Registrar
  • State Archivist
  • University Archivist

Find Archivists Jobs Society of American Archivists 

Possible work tasks to include on your archivist resume:

  • Organize archival records and develop classification systems to facilitate access to archival materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Provide reference services and assistance for users needing archival materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Prepare archival records, such as document descriptions, to allow easy access to information. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Establish and administer policy guidelines concerning public access and use of materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Research and record the origins and historical significance of archival materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Create and maintain accessible, retrievable computer archives and databases, incorporating current advances in electronic information storage technology. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Preserve records, documents, and objects, copying records to film, videotape, audiotape, disk, or computer formats as necessary. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Direct activities of workers who assist in arranging, cataloguing, exhibiting, and maintaining collections of valuable materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Locate new materials and direct their acquisition and display. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Specialize in an area of history or technology, researching topics or items relevant to collections to determine what should be retained or acquired. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes. See more occupations related to this task.
  • Select and edit documents for publication and display, applying knowledge of the subject, literary expression, and presentation techniques. See more occupations related to this task.

Archivist Personality Type

The INTP personality type is a natural fit for an archivist.

The Introverted thinker is drawn to fields that are related to literature and history, especially if it has to do with writing. This job also appeals to INTPs need to organize, categorize, make sense of the world through criteria and evaluation.

There is little emotional involvement with documents, simply a standard they either meet or do not.

Archivists decide which documents have value and catalogue the papers or restore them. They must also make sure the public access is such that the documents are safe.

Archivist O*NET Career Test Results 

Conventional

These jobs involve following set procedures and routines. You may work with data and details more than with ideas. Usually, there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Investigative

The jobs work with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Is It the Right Career Fit?

Don’t know your personality type or O*NET Profile? Take a free personality or career test.

The O*NET Interest Profiler puts occupations into a combination of 6 interests based on the type of work you would be doing.

These interests are what you most want from your work. They are:

  • Artistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Social

Work Values Fulfilled as an Archivist

Independence 

As an archivist, you are allowed to work on your own and make decisions.

Achievement

Archivists are results oriented. This career allows you to use your strongest abilities, giving you a feeling of accomplishment.

Recognition

Archivists have chances for advancement, potential for leadership. It may be considered prestigious occupation

Salary and job information is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Archivists, curators and museum workers.

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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