Job Universe: Archivist

Sort through a sea of information; preserve history.

  • The job: Archivists collect, organize, and maintain control over a wide range of information deemed important enough for permanent safekeeping. This information takes many forms: photographs, films, video and sound recordings, and electronic data files in a wide variety of formats, as well as more traditional paper records, letters, and documents. Archivists work for museums, governments, zoos, colleges and universities, corporations, and other institutions that require experts to preserve important records and artifacts.
  • Outlook: Keen competition is expected for most jobs, although jobs for archivists are expected to increase as public and private organizations require organization of and access to increasing volumes of records and information. Demand for archivists who specialize in electronic records and records management will grow more rapidly than the demand for archivists who specialize in older media formats.
  • Experience: Although archivists earn a variety of undergraduate degrees, a graduate degree in history or library science with courses in archival science is preferred by most employers. Many colleges and universities offer courses or practical training in archival techniques as part of their history, library science, or other curriculum. A few institutions now offer master's degrees in archival studies.
  • The not-so-good: Museums and other cultural institutions can be subject to cuts in funding during recessions or periods of budget tightening, reducing demand for these workers.
  • Pay: Median annual earnings of archivists in May 2006 were $40,730. In 2007, the average annual salary for archivists in the federal government was $79,199.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.