How to become an Archivist

Archivists analyse and document records. They also plan and perform procedures for the safekeeping of records and historically valuable documents. This may include working closely with written records, files, maps, plans, letters, books, certificates, diaries and registers. Records also include other media such as photographs, films, sound recordings, microfilms and electronic or computer records.

Personal requirements for an Archivist

  • Enthusiasm for research and analysis
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Good liaison and negotiation skills
  • Good organisational skills
  • Able to undertake highly detailed work
  • Interested in the preservation and accurate management of records
  • Aptitude for using computers
  • Able to work independently
  • Interested in history
  • Able to accept responsibility

Education & Training for an Archivist

To become an archivist you usually have to study humanities, social sciences or information management at university, followed by a postgraduate qualification in records management and archives, information studies, information science or information services. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

In some cases it may be possible to become an archivist through relevant work experience. Government archives in particular may offer alternative entry schemes and in-house training. The Australian Society of Archivists is the professional organisation for archivists in Australia. Associate membership is open to anyone who supports the aims of the society, including students. Professional membership is available to graduates who have been employed as an archivist in a recognised institution for two years, or to anyone holding a postgraduate professional qualification recognised by the society who has been employed as an archivist for one year. Visit their website for further information.

Duties & Tasks of an Archivist

Archivists:

  • Determine how long records need to be kept for accountability and historical purposes by following specified record-keeping requirements
  • Ensure records necessary for the ongoing operations of an organisation are identified and preserved
  • Survey records held by client agencies and individuals, and arrange for their transfer to archival custody
  • Collect records in accordance with an acquisitions policy
  • Establish and manage digitisation initiatives to make records more accessible online
  • Plan for and carry out digital preservation activities on 'born digital' records (materials that originate in digital form)
  • Establish and manage administrative systems to document and control records and archives
  • Provide access to records through reading rooms and online archives for research, administrative, legal and other purposes
  • Provide advice and information on issues such as copyright and privacy
  • Research publications or prepare exhibitions using archival records
  • Promote collections and engage with users through educational programs, exhibitions, publications and the web
  • Ensure that the environmental conditions required for the storage and conservation of records are maintained according to scientific methods.

Tasks

  • Prepares record-keeping systems, indexes, guides and procedures for archival research and for the retention and destruction of records..
  • Examines items and arranges examinations to determine condition and authenticity..
  • Evaluates and preserves records for administrative, historical, legal, evidential and other purposes..
  • Identifies and classifies specimens and objects, and arranges restoration work..

Employment Opportunities for an Archivist

The two major employers of archivists are the federal and state or territory governments. Archivists are also employed by statutory authorities, local government councils, universities and other tertiary institutions, schools, churches, banks, building societies and some large commercial companies. There are also some opportunities for private consultancy work.


Specializations

Archivist

Archivists analyse and document records. They also plan and perform procedures for the safekeeping of records and historically valuable documents. This may include working closely with written records, files, maps, plans, letters, books, certificates, diaries and registers. Records also include other media such as photographs, films, sound recordings, microfilms and electronic or computer records.

  • Average age
    Average age
    50 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Decline
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    67% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    40 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,812
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    50% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    960 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 7.8%
    NSW: 31.1%
    NT: 1.5%
    QLD: 11.8%
    SA: 9.3%
    TAS: 2.2%
    VIC: 27.3%
    WA: 9.1%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 1.2%
    20-24: 3.9%
    25-34: 12.7%
    35-44: 18.8%
    45-54: 23%
    55-59: 12.2%
    60-64: 12.2%
    65 and Over: 16.2%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 10.7%
    Bachelor degree: 22.8%
    Certificate III/IV: 6.9%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 45.1%
    Year 10 and below: 3.3%
    Year 11: 2.3%
    Year 12: 8.9%
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