What does an archivist do?

Archivists perform a number of daily duties that are focused towards preserving, storing, assessing and presenting materials that have a degree of importance for understanding our historical and cultural context. Archivists are responsible for identifying the value of the artefacts in their collection and implementing measures to ensure their preservation and safety. Some daily duties would include: researching origins and provenance of materials, using information systems to manage and track resources, ensuring that storage environment conditions are appropriate, presenting information on archival materials to the public and designing systems that promote the accessibility of information and files. 

Tasks:

  • Assess the value of archival materials
  • Liaise with organisations on the creation of information systems
  • Find and provide adequate storage methods
  • Prepare research documents
  • Utilise various information systems

What skills do I need to be an archivist?

Being an archivist is a multifaceted job. Archivists often deal with valuable and unique items and artefacts; this requires an archivist to be extremely thorough, cautious and learned in their approach to the collections. Archivists generally tend to have a natural aptitude for conducting thorough research and have a generally inquisitive nature. An archivist must also display impeccable written and spoken communication skills, as they may be required to present information to the public or research community.

Skills/attributes
  • Confident public speaker
  • Brilliant literacy skills
  • A love of research and analysis
  • Ability to work in demanding conditions
  • Keen interest in history and culture

Specialisations

There are a number of specialisations that are available to an archivist. With the correct work experience and accreditations you can choose one that personally appeals to your interests and goals. 

Librarian

A librarian is responsible for the smooth running of a library. A librarian’s duties are mainly focused towards implementing information systems, ensuring the accessibility of educational resources, maintaining filing and storage systems and providing assistance to the public.

Research Officer

Research officers head projects for a variety of different purposes in the acquisition and sourcing of information. Research officers have a thorough understanding of all the relevant sources of information and how to access them. Research officers tend to write up detailed documents detailing what information has been sourced.

Conservator

Conservators play a vital role in the identification, assessment, restoration and ongoing preservation of items that have a historical or social importance. Often working in historical, artistic or educational institutions, conservators advise on acquisitions of various kinds, assess their worth and implement strategies for their safe keeping and preservation.

Study pathways for archivists

There are a number of potential pathways to become an archivist. Earning relevant accreditations through study options will provide you with a head start in the industry.

Getting Started

Work towards a career in information services with targeted industry-recognised courses

Skill Building

Work towards a career in information services with targeted industry-recognised courses

Professional Development

Develop your understanding of archival practices and information services career options

Industry Recognition

Joining the Australian Society of Archivists once you complete your studies may help you find employment opportunities and solid your professional standing.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your information services career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

There is very strong growth in employment opportunities for archivists forecasted over the next five years.