Archivist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Archivist, or Conservator, assembles, preserves, catalogues and manages historical information, images and other collections to determine their significance and value. Their main duties include deciding which historical items should be kept for public viewing, creating descriptions and organization guidelines for each collection piece and updating and maintaining an archival database.

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Archivist Duties and Responsibilities

Depending on the position and their specialization, Archivists usually perform many of the following duties:

  • Analyze materials such as maps, films, documents and paintings, checking their authenticity, physical condition and historical content. By analyzing materials an Archivist is able to spot defects and determine if the material can be included in collections.
  • Preserve collections correctly. Archivists are knowledgeable regarding storing and conservation techniques from various time periods. Certain material needs specific environmental conditions, so Archivists monitor the storage space and security to protect the materials. 
  • Archivists design and maintain organizational systems, keeping track of archived material. Most archived materials are stored on databases for easy usage and efficiency. Thus, the Archivist will prepare indexes, meta-tags and material descriptions and, where possible, convert material into digital format.
  • Archivists make material available to the public through scans and copies. Generally, they’ll help persons who want to access the archives to retrieve information or do research. 
  • Archivists encourage the public to visit the archives through presentations, lectures, workshops, displays, exhibits or tours.

Archivist Job Description Examples


Example 1

*Job Description -* *Required Qualifications and Experience: * * A master’s degree in Archival Studies, Information Sciences or related field, or equivalent experience. * Essential: At least three (3) years’ experience working in records and archives management, with demonstrated experience in electronic records and archives management software. * Essential: Experience in digital archives and metadata curation within an archives or related organization. * Desirable: Qualification in one or more aspects of digital preservation *Technical Qualifications (preference will be given to applicants with one or more of the following): * * Knowledge of digital preservation issues, strategies, and standards * Knowledge of digital archival standards such as OAIS and Trusted Digital Repositories * Knowledge of accessioning, arranging, and describing archival material * Demonstrated knowledge of international archival standards – ISAD(G) * Knowledge of Archives Management Systems such as AToM, ArchivesSpace, Axiell/Adlib, etc. * Experience with large scale digitization projects is a strong asset * Highly proficient with desktop applications such as Adobe Acrobat Professional, MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and an ability to learn new IT systems * Experience in digital preservation, digital libraries, and/or digital repositories * Knowledge of digital preservation tools such as ArchiveIT, Archivematica, Preservica, etc. * Hands-on experience in using digital preservation systems in an environment * Familiarity with web archiving tools and methods * Experience working with digital asset management software applications * Understanding of the application of emulation technologies for digital preservation strategies e-Zest is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants are considered for positions without regard to veteran status, uniformed service member status, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, citizenship status or any other category protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws. Job Types: Full-time, Contract Pay: From $20.00 per hour Application Question(s): * Do you live in USA ? * Are you willing to work On-site in New York, NY ? * Do you have any experience in records and archives management ? Work Location: One location

Example 2

_***Applicants must complete a Town of Ipswich employment application available online at [website]***_ Town of Ipswich seeks qualified candidates for part-time (19 hours per week) non-benefited position of Archivist/Local History Librarian. Under general direction of the Director of Library Services, manages the operation and administration of the Local History Collections in all formats. Oversees specialized Selection, Acquisitions, Material Classification and Cataloging, Inter-Library Loan Transactions and Correspondence, Grants and Preservation/Conservation related to these Collections. Coordinates Local History with other library services. Answers in-depth reference and research questions accurately and efficiently based upon a professional knowledge of information sources, reference procedures, in-depth knowledge of the Ipswich Public Library Historical Collections. Implementation of programs, outreach and marketing related to Local History. Related work as required. A complete job description and application are available online [website] Apply online with cover letter and resume online at [website] or by mail: Town of Ipswich Attn: HR 25 Green Street Ipswich, MA [phone number] Applications will be accepted until position is filled. An EEO/AA employer. Job Type: Part-time Pay: $30.00 per hour Benefits: * Flexible schedule * Retirement plan Schedule: * Day shift * Monday to Friday * Weekend availability COVID-19 considerations: social distancing, PPE, regular cleaning Ability to * Ipswich, MA 01938: Reliably commute or planning to relocate before starting work (Required) Experience: * Archival standards: 1 year (Required) * Library services: 1 year (Preferred) Work Location: One location

Example 3

*General Description: * To fulfill the requirements for provision of storage and retrieval of records and data as outlined in both FDA and EPA Good Laboratory Practices *Qualifications: * The individual holding this position must be of the highest integrity and have a very strong sense of responsibility. Attention to detail is essential. He/she must be well organized, tactful, be able to work independently and maintain all records, documents and schedules associated with laboratory procedures and studies. Communication skills, especially written, are critical. The individual must be able to lift up to 50 pounds from varying heights within the Archives. *Specific * · Archive routine submissions of study raw data notebooks and reports, and tissue samples, blocks, and slides. Also, manage annual transfer of facility records, notebooks, folders, etc. to the archives. · Catalogue and maintain an inventory of the contents of all boxes. · Retain login/out records for all materials added, removed and returned to the archive room. · Maintain orderly storage of all archive records to allow for expedient retrieval of all raw data, final reports and facility documents. · Generate a list of studies yearly for all raw data stored ≥ 5 years, or as instructed by Protocol and contact clients to either ship the contents to the Sponsor or continue archival of their documents. Product Safety Labs is now offering a *$500 sign on bonus *for new employees, payable after 90 days! Job Type: Full-time Pay: $19.00 - $22.00 per hour Benefits: * 401(k) * 401(k) matching * Dental insurance * Health insurance * Life insurance * Paid time off * Vision insurance Schedule: * 8 hour shift Supplemental Pay: * Bonus pay * Signing bonus Experience: * data entry or data review: 1 year (Preferred) * SOP or technical document: 2 years (Preferred) Work Location: One location

Example 4

Interested in a career in fashion and looking for a head-start? Want to become a wardrobe stylist and need to develop your skills? Already working as a fashion stylist and need to acquire more clients? Come work with Indyx! We offer a highly competitive hourly rate, flexible schedule, and hands-on training to help you grow your career. About Us Indyx is an early-stage startup with a mission to optimize your wardrobe, both fashionably and financially. Based in the SF Bay Area, we are seeking highly-motivated individuals to join our growing team. What You’ll Do * Travel to a client’s home to catalog her wardrobe * Take photos, document product information efficiently and accurately * Work closely with Chief Stylist on styling and outfit recommendations * Significant opportunity to take on additional based on performance and potential Who You Are * Passionate about fashion and client service * Have a keen sense of style * Detailed oriented and meticulous * Excellent verbal and written communication skills * Curious and always hungry to learn * Based in the San Francisco Bay Area and self-sufficient in getting to and from client appointments * Available to work at least 10 hours per week * Prior fashion experience preferred, but not required Job Types: Part-time, Contract Pay: $20.00 per hour Schedule: * Monday to Friday * Weekend availability Supplemental Pay: * Bonus pay * Commission pay * Tips COVID-19 considerations: COVID-19 Vaccination Required. Work Location: Multiple Locations

What Does an Archivist Do?

Archivists organize, research and review different historical records to decide how significant or valuable they are to history. They often work with an abundance of document types like maps, manuscripts and photographs. Archivists may also work with digital files like websites, sound recordings and films to determine their historical relevance. They typically provide these items to museums with descriptions of the artifact or document and guidelines for preserving and displaying it in their establishment. 

Some Archivists find ways to teach the communities about the historical documents or artifacts they discover by instructing sessions, showcasing their items at exhibits or presenting on certain documents or artifacts for community outreach programs.

Archivist Skills and Qualifications

Necessary skills to be a great Archivist include the following:

  • Analytical skills: An Archivist decides which material should be preserved, thus, they need to be able to determine the importance, origin and history of the material they work with.
  • Computer skills: An Archivist needs to access databases and other electronic management tools, so computer skills are vital. 
  • Good communication: Archivists interact with the public, helping them retrieve information or providing lectures and presentations, being able to communicate well is important. 
  • Organizational ability: Archivists need to store documents and records in a way that’s easily retrievable, developing logical systems for both themselves and the public to use. 
  • Technical skills: Much historical material needs to be analyzed and preserved, this means using the right chemicals and techniques according to the type of material such as a painting, documents, pottery or fabrics. 

Archivist Salary Expectations

The average Archivist salary in the U.S. is $50,395 per year. This salary estimate is based on 219 salaries submitted to Indeed by employees, users or collected from job advertisements over the past 36 months and is for an Archivist with less than one year of job experience.

Archivist Education and Training Requirements

Archivists need a bachelor’s degree in law, library science, history, archival science or a related field, followed by a graduate diploma or degree. Certain colleges or universities may require a Ph.D.

For a voluntary certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists, a candidate needs a master’s degree and at least one year of experience. Certification makes a person more marketable. 

Archivist Experience Requirements

Employers usually look for candidates with 1+ years of experience. Experience as an Archivist can be gained by working part-time, as an intern or even by volunteering as an assistant or researcher while studying. Good experience in collection management, exhibit design, research or restoration may be necessary to qualify for a position. 

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

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Frequently asked questions about Archivists

What makes a good Archivist?

An effective Archivist must be passionate about history and the preservation of documents and artifacts. They should dedicate their time to studying about different historical events that previously took place, so they can accurately determine the condition, origin and significance of various artifacts. Archivists should also have great organizational abilities to develop logical systems to effectively store and present objects to the public. 

They’re regularly using computers to access databases and conduct research, so they should have experience working with computers and database software.


Who reports to an Archivist?

If Archivists have many documents to organize and process, they may hire an Archives Assistant to work alongside them and complete smaller, day-to-day tasks. Archives Assistants collect historical documentation and convert them to digital files, so the Archivist can permanently store and reference these files when needed. 

They also store the rare and historically significant materials in safe and protected areas to prevent them from any damage or harm. Archives Assistants often maintain records and log books to document when any visitors access the archival inventory. 


What's the difference between an Archivist and a Curator?

Archivists preserve and submit historically significant artifacts and documents to a museum’s Curator. The Archivist provides the Curator with any instructions for taking care of and displaying the item. The Curator is then in charge of storing, cleaning and displaying the objects. They often work with the Archivist to negotiate and purchase the historical documents from them to add to their museum’s exhibits.

Curators often conduct research on current items to help them find additional related records, documents or artifacts that support and strengthen their current exhibit. They may ask the Archivist for additional assistance with research and historical information. If an Archivist works for a museum, they may report directly to the Curator for instructions on which artifacts or documents to locate for certain exhibits. 


What are the different types of Archivists?

There are a wide variety of Archivists who appraise different records and documents. Some may work with an abundance of document types while others may specialize in one type of media. Photo Archivists are responsible for archiving and organizing older photos. They’re often in charge of large amounts of photos and must conduct extensive research to learn which time period the photo came from based on its color, shape, tint and other appearances. 

Government Archivists work for government entities studying primarily government documents to determine the historical significance of government documents kept on file. Some Archivists work in history museums and specialize in a specific time period. They often only collect, analyze and research items from a certain time in history and find objects to display for an exhibit featuring a significant historical event.

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