How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Archivist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $53,880
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 7.2%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Office Work Environment
    Career Attribute

Archivists preserve original historical material such as maps, films, documents, photographs and computer records. The aim is to either tell the story of a particular community or retain a piece of history for future generations or keep institutions and people accountable for past actions.

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What is an Archivist?


Here are the duties you can expect to perform as an archivist:

  • Ensure best practices in preserving archives with regard to handling, arranging and categorising archival materials.
  • Manage all permissions involving publishing requests and reproducing visual materials; work with external vendors to create photographic copies once approved.
  • Work with other programming staff such as the department manager to write high quality grant proposals and create financial plans as needed for the archives and digital collection.
  • Manage reference services for visiting research scholars and make electronic, phone or written requests as needed for in-depth research.
  • Process a diverse range of archival collections such as the archival arrangement, finding aids and description.

Day In The Life

On a day-to-day basis, much of your work sitting in front of a computer and reading correspondence from email, intranet, newsletters and other announcements. You will be working with indexes, subject files, paper documents, films, maps, computer records and maps as necessary. Since archives are fragile and require close maintenance, it is your job to ensure there is meaningful content in every collection. Creating easy access for anyone to understand and use the information in archived materials is also essential.

You will spend time with technology experts, conservators, educators and artists to provide reliable and detailed archival collections that are convenient. Finding new materials and supervising their purchase is vital to continuing the process of archiving in keeping with copyright laws, organisational policies and procedures.

Work Schedule And Typical Hours

Expect to work in a comfortable office environment with good facilities. Your hours will either be in shifts or flexible working times. You might have to work during the day, evening and weekend. Some positions will also need to you pass a criminal background investigation.

Growth Of The Job

Employment growth in this industry will be as much as the average rate of most careers through 2020. There is great demand for archivists as institutions and organisations need to manage large records of information. However, the market is highly competitive and qualified candidates greatly outnumber annual job openings. You will require highly specialized graduate training to stand out and find success. Most people start their career as an assistant archivist then progress to senior management positions.

Typical Employers

Working as an archivist can give you great flexibility in terms of geography and the type of organisation you work for. You can find work at cultural institutions such as art galleries and museums, media organisations, religious foundations, public bodies, repositories in the private sector at large corporations, families, universities, big charities, and government bodies. Examples of employers include universities like Brown, Indiana University-Bloomington, Harvard, Princeton, etc., The Getty, NANA Development Corporation, Refinery29, InterSystems Corporation, Department of Defense, Tetra Tech, Inc., Randstad Life Services and Pivotal Solutions, Inc.

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How To Become an Archivist

There are several ways via which you could embark on an archivist’s career path. Many entry-level positions require an undergraduate or graduate degree, along with relevant coursework. You could have a bachelor’s degree in any field but history, political science or library science is preferable. In case you want to get an advanced position with an academic institution, you have to eventually complete a PhD.

In recent years, there are many multi-course programs offering archival education such as a master’s degree in archival studies. Entry into these programs are competitive and you will be a preferred candidate if you have a good honours degree and previous job experience. A solid foundation in history, art and other areas through high school will be helpful. Early experience can be gained by volunteering with local historical societies, museums and art galleries. Working in a library is a great way to get acquainted with the type of work you might do as an archivist and familiarise yourself with information management techniques.

For this role, you need to be customer service oriented with the ability to work well with a wide range of individuals, including those that have previous research in archives. Advanced communication and interpersonal skills are required as much of the work needs team work and public speaking skills. Strong computer skills related to electronic and digital devices or e-resources will give you an edge against other candidates seeking employment.

Archivist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Archivist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Archivist's can make an average annual salary of $53,880, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $37,820 or $18 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #345 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Archivist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Archivists

  • 8.7%   Doctorate
  • 40%   Masters
  • 35%   Bachelors
  • 2.9%   Associates
  • 8.6%   College
  • 4.2%   High School
  • 0.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Archivist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 500 jobs for a total of 7,400 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 7.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #303 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Archivists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 1,100 100 0%
Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions 800 100 0%
Other information services 600 100 0%

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