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Career profile Archivist

Also known as Archival Records Clerk, Archivist, Film Archivist, Museum Archivist, Museum Registrar, Records Manager, Reference Archivist, State Archivist, University Archivist


Also known as Archival Records Clerk, Archivist, Film Archivist

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
  • Social
Pay Range
$33,180 - $98,990 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • History and Archeology
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Administrative
Core tasks
  • Organize archival records and develop classification systems to facilitate access to archival materials.
  • Provide reference services and assistance for users needing archival materials.
  • Prepare archival records, such as document descriptions, to allow easy access to information.
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What does an Archivist do?

Archivists appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents.

In addition, Archivists participate in research activities based on archival materials.

What kind of tasks does an Archivist perform regularly?

Archivists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Organize archival records and develop classification systems to facilitate access to archival materials.
  • Provide reference services and assistance for users needing archival materials.
  • Prepare archival records, such as document descriptions, to allow easy access to information.
  • Establish and administer policy guidelines concerning public access and use of materials.
  • Research and record the origins and historical significance of archival materials.
  • Create and maintain accessible, retrievable computer archives and databases, incorporating current advances in electronic information storage technology.
  • Preserve records, documents, and objects, copying records to film, videotape, audiotape, disk, or computer formats as necessary.
  • Direct activities of workers who assist in arranging, cataloguing, exhibiting, and maintaining collections of valuable materials.
  • Locate new materials and direct their acquisition and display.
  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials.
  • Specialize in an area of history or technology, researching topics or items relevant to collections to determine what should be retained or acquired.
  • Coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes.
  • Select and edit documents for publication and display, applying knowledge of subject, literary expression, and presentation techniques.

The above responsibilities are specific to Archivists. More generally, Archivists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is an Archivist salary?

The median salary for an Archivist is $56,760, and the average salary is $61,210. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Archivist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Archivists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Archivists earn less than $33,180 per year, 25% earn less than $42,840, 75% earn less than $75,070, and 90% earn less than $98,990.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Archivists is expected to change by 11.1%, and there should be roughly 1,000 open positions for Archivists every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$33,180 - $98,990
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Archivists?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Archivist are usually higher in their Conventional and Investigative interests.

Archivists typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Archivists typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Archivist tend to value Independence, Achievement, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Archivists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Archivists moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Archivists moderately value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Archivists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Archivists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

What education and training do Archivists need?

Many Archivists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Archivists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Archivists

  • 1.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 6.1% completed high school or secondary school
  • 9.1% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 36.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 36.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 6.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Archivists

Archivists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as history and archeology, customer and personal service, or administrative knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Archivists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

History and Archeology
Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Archivists

Archivists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Archivists need abilities such as written comprehension, written expression, and information ordering in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Archivists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Category Flexibility
The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Critical Skills needed by Archivists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Archivists frequently use skills like reading comprehension, writing, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Archivists, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
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.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.