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Archivist Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Archivist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Archivist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Archivist Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

An archivist manages and maintains collections of books, papers, maps, plans, photographs, prints, films, tapes, videos and computer records. These items aid the work of researchers, providing a record of how people lived in the past. The work of an archivist is likely to include:

• arranging the acquisition and retrieval of archives
• identifying, evaluating and selecting documents to preserve or destroy
• cataloging and indexing
• helping to make archives accessible
• responding to requests from the public
• advising on the use and interpretation of the material.

Archivists usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They normally work in an office or library, in a small team or on their own. An archivist needs to:

• be committed to customer service, heritage and information management
• be good communicators and enjoy helping people
• have a logical mind
• be comfortable with new technology, computer packages and systems
• have an interest in history, democracy and preserving records.

There are around 1,500 archivists in the UK. There is a huge shortage of archivists with many vacancies remaining unfilled. Jobs can be found with local authorities, national archives and museums, universities, businesses and charities. Many start by undertaking short-term contracts before moving into permanent positions.
Archivists need a good honours degree in any academic discipline, followed by a postgraduate qualification in archives and records management. Mature applicants are welcome, and many people move into this area of work as a second career.

What does the role encounter?

An archivist manages and maintains collections of archives. These items aid the work of researchers, providing a record of how people lived in the past, and how organisations, Government and institutions operated. In turn, the information we generate today will, if properly preserved, show future generations how we live and work.
Archives may consist of books, papers, maps, plans, photographs, prints, films, tapes, videos and computer records. During everyday life, people and organisations create or collect a lot of archives. Items may be collected by government agencies, local authorities, universities, businesses, charities, professional organisations, families and individuals. The work of an archivist is likely to include:

• arranging the acquisition and retrieval of records - if they belong to a private organisation or family this may involve negotiating for them to be donated or sold to the archive
• identifying, evaluating and selecting documents for preservation or destruction
• preparing record-keeping systems including cataloging and indexing - this may involve using specialist software to catalogue archives on computers and make them available over the internet
• helping to make archives accessible to people who want to use them - this may be through computer aided searches
• responding to requests from the public (by phone, fax, email and in person, who may be researching family trees or their local community for a hobby or university project
• advising on the use and interpretation of the material
• arranging exhibitions and events
• giving talks
• managing budgets and applying for grants.

Archivists usually work with a small team. Sometimes they work alone, but are often in contact with the public and other organisations.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Working hours are usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although evening and weekend work may be required.

The working environment can vary. Some offices are comfortable and modern with good facilities, but others may be more cramped. Some tasks may have to be undertaken in dirty conditions, particularly when retrieving records.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• The recommended minimum salary is £19,185 a year.
• An experienced archivist can expect to earn approximately £20,000 to £32,000.
• Experienced managers with specialist knowledge can earn from around £35,000 to £60,000.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• be committed to customer service, heritage and information management
• be a good communicator
• be forward thinking, as demands for information are constantly changing
• have a logical mind to identify and sort information before it can be interpreted or used
• be able to undertake research
• be comfortable with new technology, computer packages and systems
• be committed to professional development after qualifying, eg by acquiring management skills.

What type of training will I receive?

Many archivists will undertake in-house training once in post. Training opportunities will vary with the employer. The Society of Archivists runs short courses and workshops. Training may include archive interpretation, source studies, records management, dealing with electronic and digital records, and archive service management.

Once qualified, archivists are encouraged to undertake the Society of Archivists' Registration Scheme, which demonstrates a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD).

Career Progression:

Short-term contracts are common in the first two years after qualification. New archivists are then able to apply for permanent positions.

Many people start as assistant archivists and some progress to senior posts, taking on some management responsibilities. Changing jobs may require moving to another organisation or area.

There is a growing number of opportunities for self-employment. Overseas work is possible, with an increasing number of jobs in Europe, America and Australia.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Conservation Officer/Restorer
Information Scientist
Museum/Art Gallery Curator

Where can I find further information?

The British Library, St Pancras, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. 0870 444 1500. Website:

The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. 020 8876 3444. Website

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS), H M General Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YY. Website:

The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales SY23 3BU. 01970 632 800. Website:

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 66 Balmoral Avenue, Belfast BT9 6NY. 028 9025 5905. Website:

Records Management Society of Great Britain (RMS), Woodside, Coleheath Bottom, Prince's Risborough, Buckinghamshire HP27 0SZ. 01494 488566. Website:

Society of Archivists, Prioryfield House, 20 Canon Street, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1SW. 01823 327030. Website:

Other Useful Archivist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Archivist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Archivist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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