Administration & Office Support
Archivists appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents.
What does an Archivist do?
Archivists appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents. They also participate in research activities based on archival materials.
As an archivist, your work would involve:
- storing materials appropriately and preserving their condition
- identifying and dating materials before cataloguing and indexing them
- assisting users of the archives
- creating records for user access in various formats such as photocopies, microfiche and online
- researching topics
- organising displays and exhibitions of archive materials, and giving presentations or talks to interested groups
- negotiating to buy or donate archive materials, and appraising the importance of materials.
You would identify and select which materials should be kept in an archive or be destroyed. You may also be involved in using computer technology to archive digital material and convert existing archives from traditional to digital formats.
At senior level, you may have extra responsibilities, such as managing and supervising staff, managing budgets and putting together bids for funding.
Depending on your job role you may also be known as a Records Manager.
Key skills and interests
To become an archivist, you would need:
- an interest in history and the preservation of information
- good communication skills
- the ability to understand complex issues and explain them clearly
- a logical and highly-organised approach
- the ability to work both independently and in a team
- good IT skills.
Working hours and conditions
Archivists usually work full-time, Monday to Friday, but you may be able to do part-time hours. You may have to work occasional evenings and weekends.
You would be mainly be office-based. You could also spend time inspecting archives at other sites, giving presentations or setting up exhibitions.
You might have to work with archives stored in dusty and cramped conditions. Some records may be heavy, and could be in poor condition.
How to become an Archivist?
Entry Level Education
To become an archivist you usually need a degree in humanities, social sciences or information management and then a further postgraduate qualification in records management and archives, information studies or information science. For entry into the undergraduate degree courses you usually need your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English and mathematics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
The Australian Society of Archivists is the professional body supporting archivists in Australia. Associate membership is open to anyone, including students, who support the purpose of the society. Professional membership is available to graduates who have been employed as an archivist in a recognised institution for two years.
Employment of archivists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
However, because this is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only a small number of actual new jobs. Jobs for archivists are expected to increase as public and private organisations require organisation of, and access to, increasing volumes of records and information. The growing use of electronic records will cause demand for archivists who specialise in electronic records and records management to grow as well.