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Earnings Potential

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,780, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,260. In 2005, the average annual salary for archivists in the Federal Government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $75,876.

Facts at a glance

  • Most worked in museums, historical sites, and similar institutions; educational institutions; or in Federal, State, or local government. 
  • A graduate degree and related work experience generally are required. 
  • Keen competition is expected for most jobs because qualified applicants generally outnumber job openings.
  • Most archivists take great pride in their work.

Summary of what this career entails

An archivist collect, organize and control important information for safekeeping. There are many different kinds of information that are collected including photographs, films, video and sound recordings, computer tapes and disks (both video and optical). They also safeguard traditional paper documents such as letters. Achievers work for a number of organizations like government agencies, museums, historical societies, corporations, and educational institutions that use the type of records mentioned above. The work done is of great benefit for researchers, exhibitors, genealogists, and others who would benefit from the knowledge the documents provide. For example, many times a researcher will use the documents for something other than its original purpose. A Native American may use the work done by archivist to claim lands that were guaranteed by the Federal government.

Examples and or details of work

An example of what an archivist does is documented in an article in the Duke chronicle ( The article discusses Tim Pyatt, an archivist who does research to answer questions that Duke students or prospective students who wonder whether or not they have distant relatives that went to the school. Pyatt is part of a staff that is responsible for many artifacts such as Duke memorabilia and scrapbooks. Pyatt has also helped ESPN with his work regarding Duke’s past in basketball. Mentioned in the story is the fact that archives have changed as times have changed. In contemporary archival work, a lot of the records are kept electronically.  

Degrees that lead to this career

Degrees that lead to a career in archives are a graduate degree in history or library science. There are a few schools that have degrees in archival studies. There is also voluntary certification provided by the Academy of Certified Archivists.  

Specific Career openings in this field

Specific careers in the archives field include archivist, curator, museum technician, conservator, and media digital archivist.