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At a Glance

  • Store important papers so future generations can access them
  • Have extensive computer skills
  • Have an interest in history and culture
  • Often work for federal, state, or local governments
  • Have a master's degree

Career summary

Archivists preserve and control paper, film, and electronic records with historic value.

Archivists store information for preservation and future use. Archival records and papers are sometimes used for evidence in investigations. More often, archival records are used to preserve social and cultural memory.

Archival records and papers are recorded information that is usually many years old. The information may be recorded on paper, video, or electronically.

Archivists organize records and documents for easy access. They follow preservation techniques to keep the documents in good condition so they may be stored for hundreds of years. Archivists also transfer information from one medium to another. For example, archivists may transfer written information into a digital form. Archivists must be knowledgeable about copyright laws.

Archivists help people find and use archival documents. They teach people how to use databases and catalogs. Archivists direct people to the documents they need. They also teach people how to care for and organize their own documents.

Archivists study history so they will know which documents to save. Some archivists focus on a specific era. They keep informed on new ways to preserve data. They also look for new sources of archival materials that may have been previously overlooked.

Archivists work wherever it is important to keep records of people or organizations. They may work for:

Related careers

This career is part of the Education and Training cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to archivists.

Common work activities

Archivists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, archivists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Archivists frequently:

It is important for archivists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for archivists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Archivists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an archivist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Archivists typically need a master's degree in history, library science, political science, or public administration. A few universities offer programs in archival science. You should also take courses in preservation management and computer applications.

Work experience

You can gain work experience as an archivist by volunteering or working as an intern. Volunteer opportunities can be found at local museums, genealogical societies, and historical societies. University libraries and museums may offer entry-level jobs where you can get experience.

On-the-job training

Archivists often receive training on the job. The length of training varies by employer and your background. In general, you receive up to six months of training.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire people who have a master's or doctoral (PhD) degree. They also prefer to hire people who have archival experience. They look for those who have worked as an intern, volunteer, or part-time worker in a museum or archive.

Employers prefer applicants who have a graduate degree in history or library science. Courses in archival science may be required. Some employers look for people with graduate degrees in both history and library science. Certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists may be an advantage for job seekers.

Individuals with knowledge of digital media and experience with copyright laws may find their skills in demand as organizations migrate documents to digital format and license or buy more digital content.

#New York Times, Fresh Starts: "Digital Archivists, Now in Demand" by Conrad De Aenlle, #February 8. 2009, lh 3/6/09

Costs to workers

Workers must pay for association dues, reference books and journals, and college classes or seminars to keep up with changes in the field.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Archivists (SOC 25-4011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $16.54 $20.83 $25.57 $31.50 $42.37
Monthly $2,866 $3,610 $4,431 $5,459 $7,343
Yearly $34,400 $43,330 $53,180 $65,530 $88,120
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $24.61 $27.26 $31.23 $39.88 $50.65
Monthly $4,265 $4,724 $5,412 $6,911 $8,778
Yearly $51,199 $56,691 $64,970 $82,957 $105,353
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.01 $21.13 $24.77 $31.38 $44.11
Monthly $3,121 $3,662 $4,293 $5,438 $7,644
Yearly $37,453 $43,944 $51,539 $65,268 $91,752
    Vancouver Hourly $14.48 $19.88 $25.06 $30.03 $39.63
Monthly $2,509 $3,445 $4,343 $5,204 $6,868
Yearly $30,119 $41,345 $52,113 $62,474 $82,434
United States Hourly $14.63 $18.31 $25.11 $34.25 $43.67
Monthly $2,535 $3,173 $4,352 $5,936 $7,568
Yearly $30,440 $38,090 $52,240 $71,250 $90,830

Wages vary by employer. Archivists who work for the federal government or for large, well-funded museums have the highest wages.

Archivists who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Archivists (SOC 25-4011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 121 20.7% 16.1% 18
    Benton and Franklin Counties 13 23.1% 15.0% 2
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 12 33.3% 11.9% 2
    King County 66 12.1% 19.6% 9
    Spokane County 18 5.6% 13.9% 2
United States 7,800 9.0% 5.2% 1,000

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Growth will be stable for archivists as there is need for access to more public records and information. Demand will be high for those who specialize in electronic records and records management. However this is a small occupation and there are many people with advanced degrees who are qualified for jobs.

Employment for archivists can be sensitive to the state of the economy.  Museums and other groups may cut back on work for archivists when their budgets decrease. 

Other resources

American Alliance of Museums (external link)
2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 1005
Arlington, VA 22202
American Historical Association (external link)
777 6th St NW, 11th floor
Washington, DC 20001
American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (external link)
727 15th St NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
American Library Association (external link)
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
American Society for Information Science and Technology (external link)
8555 - 16th Street, Suite 850
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Association of Moving Image Archivists (external link)
1313 North Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028
International Animated Film Society (external link)
National Association of Government Archives & Records Administrators (external link)
444 North Capitol Street NW, Suite 237
Washington, DC 20001
Smithsonian Institution Career Center (external link)
So You Want to Be an Archivist? (external link)
Society of American Archivists (external link)
17 North State Street, Suite 1425
Chicago, IL 60602-4061
The Academy of Certified Archivists (external link)
230 Washington Avenue, Suite 101
Albany, NY 12203


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster