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How to become an Archivist : What does an Archivist do?

04 December,2021  |  By Brainwonders

Archivist banner image

Archivists are highly trained to preserve original materials and assist people in getting them. Archivists handle paper documents, photographs, maps, films, and computer records. Many start as historians before enrolling in programmes to learn from expert archivists. Archivists have in-depth knowledge of records and are involved in many, if not all, aspects of the records life cycle. Their extensive research and analysis skills contribute to the dissemination of records to the public.

Archivists are assisted by archives specialists who apply specialised expertise about specific subjects to the materials they serve. They frequently work on initiatives that describe or preserve a body of documents. When records within their area of competence are requested, they also deal directly with the public.

Archivists are assisted by archivist technologists. The technicians search for records in the "stacks," which are enormous chambers where boxes of documents are stored. They also collaborate with conservators to clean, repair, and conserve older and more delicate artefacts.

What is an Archivist?

Archivists aid in the control, organisation, and collection of information. Their goal is to preserve audio and video records, documents, images, films, and electronic data. Archivists are often employed by museums, schools, government agencies, or other organisations that maintain permanent archives. Typically, archival work is done during normal business hours. They frequently interact with the general population and may have to deal with problematic people on occasion. These workers may be required to lift big objects and climb ladders. The following are the primary responsibilities of an archivist:

  • Making it easier to acquire, preserve, access, and arrange born-digital materials.
  • Evaluating the documents to discover preservation difficulties and fix problems.
  • Completing archived collection organisation, preservation, and description.
  • Creating displays as well as participating in outreach efforts and activities.
  • Updating and maintaining an archival database.

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4 Steps to Become an Archivist

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

If you're wondering how to become an archivist, the first and most crucial step is to educate yourself. An undergraduate degree is required for archivists. An archivist should ideally have a bachelor's degree in library science or archival science. Archivists, on the other hand, can hold bachelor's degrees in areas such as history, art, or science. Concentrations, specialisations, minors, and classes in archival studies can assist archivists in gaining a thorough understanding of the topic.

You might want to take advantage of volunteer opportunities while in college. Volunteering in a museum or library can provide an aspiring archivist with valuable hands-on experience in the industry. Potential employers will be impressed by your museum archivist education on your CV. Aspiring archivists should also use this opportunity to become acquainted with the appropriate technology. You could study archive computer software and take elective computer classes. If you want to learn how to become a digital archivist, this is essential information to have. Because computers are so important in archival work, archivists who are conversant with them may have a better career outlook.

Step 2: Think about pursuing a graduate archivist degree.

                                                     Think about pursuing a graduate archivist degree

The subject of what degree is required to become an archivist is a difficult one. While a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some roles, many businesses prefer archivists with master's degrees. Many colleges offer master's degrees in archival studies at the graduate level, which may allow students to focus their study on certain types of archival studies, such as safeguarding and working with film or paper.

Recommended Read: Who is an Archaeologist? and What does an Archaeologist do.

Participate in an archival internship: this allows students to gain archivist training firsthand while also allowing prospective archivists to practise skills learnt in the classroom while building key networking connections. Furthermore, an internship can provide valuable work experience to include on a résumé, allowing you to stand out when searching for positions following graduation.

Step 3: Obtain Voluntary Certification

While this is not a required step in becoming an archivist, it is a crucial one! Many employers prefer archivists with optional certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists. A master's degree in archive studies, one year of professional experience, and passing a written exam are all required for the title of Certified Archivist. A master's degree in an area other than archival studies is required, as is two years of professional experience. Certified archivists must renew their certification every five years.

Step 4: Look for Opportunities for Advancement

Archivists stay current in their industry by attending workshops, meetings, and conferences sponsored by historical institutions and archival organisations. Archivists frequently have limited advancement options, while some may be promoted to management or supervisory positions at larger archives. Obtaining a PhD can help archivists advance to director roles, particularly in state archives.

After Your Academic Career, Continue Your Education

Archivists can pursue a variety of continuing education opportunities, including workshops, courses, and independent study. Continuing education can assist an archivist to develop their career by keeping them up to date on industry trends and issues.


You should also consider joining a professional group, such as the Society of American Archivists. This can provide an archivist with a variety of resources that can help with career progressions, such as continuing education opportunities, access to academic publications, an invitation to an annual archivist convention, and networking opportunities.

A bachelor's degree is usually required for archivists, but many firms prefer a master's degree plus professional certification.

At Brainwonders we help you clear all your profession related queries through thorough counselling. Not only that, but you can also opt for DMIT, which will let you know how you'd fit into the job and how your personality could complement it. To know more visit our website

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