Archives as a Profession


Most professional archivist positions require completion of M.A. in History or a M.L.I.S. in Library and Information Science. While the M.A. or M.L.I.S is normally considered the terminal degree for archivist, some archivists do hold doctoral degrees. The Society of American Archivists publishes an annual Directory of Archival Education that discusses educational standards and other issues relating to the field.

Careers in Archives

Archivists work in a variety of repositories in various institutional settings, including:

  • Governmental (federal, state, and local)
  • Academic institutions
  • Corporations
  • Religious groups
  • Museums
  • Historical societies

A survey of Archival Salaries conducted in 2004 by the Society of American Archivists can be found on their site. Salaries vary widely, but positions for entry-level M.A.s have been competitive with entry-level teaching positions for new Ph.D.s.

Links to employment can be found at:

What Type of Work Does an Archivist Perform?

An archivist's primary tasks can include:

  • Establish and maintain physical and intellectual control over records of enduring value.
  • Select records for preservation (appraisal): must assess historical context in which records were created to assess long-term value.
  • Prepare records for research (arrangement and description): must be completed according to accepted standards and practices of the repository and the profession.
  • Preserve records: establish and implement programs and practices to control or arrest the physical deterioration of records, regardless of condition or format.
  • Assist researchers (reference): serve as a partner in research.
  • Manage archival programs and repositories: develop long-range plans to insure the adequacy of historical documentation; publicize holdings to encourage use; seek funding and public support for archival programs.

For further information on the archival work see "So You Want to Be an Archivist: An Overview of the Archival Profession."

Professional Organizations

Faculty, students, and alumni of the Archival Studies program belong to a number of professional organizations. A brief listing of these organizations include:

Last Updated: November 15, 2016