What Do Archivists Do?
If you are interested in becoming an archivist, you will more than likely have a variety of duties. You may have to appraise, edit and keep safe permanent records or documents that are historically valuable. You may also join in research activities that are based off of archival resources.Annually there is expected to be some growth in this type of position across the country. You could see a 17% growth, which would translate into about 250 new jobs each year.
Archivists Skills and Abilities
An archivist in the United States will have to have an understanding of the English language, history and archeology. With the rise in technology, archivists are also expected to have a working knowledge of computers, databases and other electronics. One of the most important skills that an archivist have is an outstanding reading comprehension. This is because, as an archivist, you will read different materials in order to understand where they should be kept. In that vein, an archivist should also have the ability to order information and to use different sets of rules in that ordering.
Generally, an archivist will have to:
- Document and record information in writing and/or electronically.
- Get information through observation and other relevant sources.
- Use computers and their systems to enter data and process information.
- Communicate with customers, the government, the public and other external sources information pertaining to archived materials.
- Communicate with peers, supervisors, co-workers and subordinates via telephone, email, written word and in person.
- Develop procedures for archives, museums or libraries.
- Evaluate characteristics of archival and historical objects.
- Help patrons use library or archival assets.
- Prepare materials to be persevered, displayed and/or stored.
The duties that you will have to do as an archivist will depend on what type of institution you are in such as public or private library, training facility or historic facility.
Archivists Tools and Technology
The only way that you can do the job of an archivist well is to know how to use important tools and technologies. For example, in order for you to be able to email peers, you have to know how to use a computer and email programs. You may also have to know how to use:
- Database user interface and query software
- Development environment software
- Graphics or photo imaging software
- Video creation and editing software
- Web platform development software
These tools and technologies make the job of an archivist easier and more efficient.
Education and Training for an Archivists
In order to be an archivist, you have to have at least a Bachelor’s degree. However, it is not uncommon for a Master’s degree to be required. It is rarely necessary for an archivist to have a doctoral or professional degree. You might take courses such as:
- Archival Administration
- Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis
- Historic Preservation and Conservation
- Public History
- Museum Studies
- Art History, Criticism and Conservation
These courses will give you the technical knowhow to archive, conserve and appreciate historic documents and artifacts.
The average salary of an archivist in the United States is about $49,100. The lower 10% make about $28,400 while the upper 10% make about $84,800. Your salary will depend on a number of factors. It will vary due to geography, experience and the type of institution that you work in.
Archivists Jobs by Geography
Across the United States, New York, Washington and Texas have the highest concentration of archivists based on population. The states with the most open positions on average are Nevada, Washington and Texas. An archivist is likely to make more money if they live in the District of Columbia, Alabama or New Jersey. If you live in South Carolina, Minnesota or Puerto Rico, you are more likely to make less money as an archivist. When you decide where you should live, you have to consider the number of job opportunities in the area, the average salary and the cost of living.