Archivist

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Curator, records manager

Archivists look after and preserve collections of historical records and documents.

Salary Range: £20,000 to £60,000

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How to become an archivist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
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University

You’ll need a degree and postgraduate training to do this job. Most degree subjects are accepted, but you may find it useful to take a degree like:

  • history
  • information science
  • law
  • languages

After you complete a degree, you’ll do a postgraduate qualification in archives or records management recognised by the Archives & Records Association (ARA).

You’ll usually need some relevant work experience to apply for a postgraduate course. This is a great way of finding out if a career as an archivist is for you.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

More information

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Volunteering and experience

It’s important that you get some paid or unpaid experience in archives or records management work. This will help when you apply for courses and jobs.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Archives & Records Association and get access to industry news, professional development courses and networking events.

Further information

You’ll find more details about careers and training in archives from Creative Choices and the Archives & Records Association.

You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of English language
  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • analytical thinking skills
  • administration skills
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • storing materials correctly and keeping them in good condition
  • identifying, dating, cataloguing and indexing archive materials
  • helping people use the archives
  • making records available to users in formats such as photocopies, microfiche and online
  • carrying out research
  • giving talks and organising presentations, displays and exhibitions
  • negotiating the buying or donation of archive material

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, cramped and dusty.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could work with larger and more prestigious organisations, like national archives and museums, businesses, church foundations and charities.

You could become self-employed.