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What Do Archivist Do?

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

Life As an Archivist: What Do They Do?

  • Provide reference services and assistance for users needing archival materials.
  • Locate new materials and direct their acquisition and display.
  • Specialize in an area of history or technology, researching topics or items relevant to collections to determine what should be retained or acquired.
  • Establish and administer policy guidelines concerning public access and use of materials.
  • Coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes.
  • Research and record the origins and historical significance of archival materials.

Qualities of an Archivist

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.

Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Types of Archivist

  • Museum Librarian
  • State Archivist
  • Records Manager
  • Records Administrator
  • Collections Director

Is There Going to be Demand for Archivists?

There were about 6,800 jobs for Archivist in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 14.7% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,000 new jobs for Archivist by 2026. The BLS estimates 800 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Archivists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Archivist are Nebraska, Kentucky, and Georgia. 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.

Salary Ranges for Archivists

Archivists who work in District of Columbia, California, or Georgia, make the highest salaries.

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

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

What Tools do Archivists Use?

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

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Hypertext markup language HTML
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Word processing software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Database software
  • FileMaker Pro
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator
  • Extensible markup language XML
  • Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
  • Apple Final Cut Pro
  • Presentation software
  • Dynamic hypertext markup language DHTML
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite

How to Become an Archivist

Individuals working as an Archivist have obtained the following education levels:

Archivist Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become an Archivist?

Archivist Work Experience

Archivists Sector

Archivist Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Archivists employed by various industries.

Archivist Industries

Similar Careers

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


Image Credit: Jorge Royan via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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