A Job Description for an Archivist


Someone has to make sure that important documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, remain safe and in good condition. Archivists work in places that require the preservation of important records and documents. Such institutions include museums, governments, colleges, zoos, universities and corporations. An archivist may also research activities based on the materials she archives.


  • According to Collegeboard.com, an non-profit that connects students with educational opportunities, an archivist protects and maintains records, documents and databases. She copies records into electronic formats that are accessible to the public. She also determines the value and authenticity of archival materials. She also researches the significance of materials. She communicates with others by helping people access specific archives. She also coordinates lectures, tours and other educational events.

Education & Training

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a graduate degree in library science or history with courses in archival science is preferred by most employees. A few institutions offer a master's degree in archival studies. In the course of acquiring a formal education, many archivists gain "hands-on" experience through work in archives or museums. Many archives also offer volunteer opportunities, which is helpful for students seeking experience.

Environment & Hours

  • According to the BLS, working conditions vary. Some spend much of their time working to assist and educate the public; whereas others work independently and research or process records. According to Collegeboard.com, archivists can be found in museums and other facilities, such as private art galleries, history and cultural centers, auction houses, zoos and aquariums.


  • According to the BLS May 2008 Occupational Employment Statistics Survey Program, an archivist earned an average rate of $23.18 per hour and an average salary of $48,220 per year. The industry that employed the highest number of archivists included museums, historical sites and similar institutions, with an average salary of $41,640. The federal government offered the highest pay, with an average salary of $77,130.

Job Outlook

  • According to the BLS National Employment Matrix, employment for archivists is expected to grow at a rate of 7 percent through 2018. Job prospects will face keen competition, since highly qualified applicants will outnumber job openings.

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  • Photo Credit archives image by araraadt from Fotolia.com
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