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What Does it Take to Be an Archivist?

Job Description: Appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents. Participate in research activities based on archival materials.

What do Archivists do On a Daily Basis?

  • Establish and administer policy guidelines concerning public access and use of materials.
  • Prepare archival records, such as document descriptions, to allow easy access to information.
  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials.
  • Create and maintain accessible, retrievable computer archives and databases, incorporating current advances in electronic information storage technology.
  • Coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes.
  • Provide reference services and assistance for users needing archival materials.

What an Archivist Should Know

When polled, Archivists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

  • Archives and Historical Documents Director
  • Digital Archivist
  • Curator
  • Records Manager
  • Curatorial Specialist

Are There Job Opportunities for Archivists?

There were about 6,800 jobs for Archivists in 2016 (in the United States).

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 14.3% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,000 new jobs for Archivists by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 800 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Archivists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Archivists are New York, Missouri, and Florida.

Watch out if you plan on working in Wyoming, Vermont, or Oklahoma. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Archivist Average Salary

The salary for Archivists ranges between about $30,440 and $90,830 a year. An Archivist median salary is $52,240.

Salary Ranges for Archivists

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for jobs of this type in different U.S. states.

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary
District of Columbia $74,860
California $72,240
Maryland $67,360
New Jersey $67,110
Texas $66,120
Georgia $64,160
Massachusetts $63,270
Illinois $63,200
Connecticut $62,910
Rhode Island $59,520
Arkansas $59,480
Washington $56,690
New York $56,270
Virginia $55,400
Pennsylvania $52,800
Michigan $52,380
North Carolina $51,960
Missouri $51,410
Colorado $51,080
Alabama $50,790
Wisconsin $47,800
Minnesota $46,700
Ohio $46,610
Vermont $46,610
Maine $46,440
New Mexico $46,420
Florida $46,370
Delaware $46,080
Louisiana $45,480
Kentucky $44,410
Arizona $43,890
Oregon $43,470
Kansas $42,860
South Carolina $42,530
Oklahoma $41,790
Indiana $40,920
Montana $38,870
Tennessee $38,430
Utah $34,400

What Tools & Technology do Archivists Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Archivists:

  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Hypertext markup language HTML
  • Extensible markup language XML
  • Microsoft Excel

Where do Archivists Work?

Archivist Sectors

You May Also Be Interested In…

Those thinking about becoming Archivists might also be interested in the following careers:

  • Library Technicians
  • Survey Researchers
  • Graduate Teaching Assistants


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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