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- Preserve and organise historical records and documents
- Requires excellent research and organisational skills
- Option to become self-employed
Archivists acquire, manage and maintain documents and other materials that have historical and cultural importance for individuals, organisations and nations. As an archivist you might work for a public collection, a private collection or a house or garden that's open to the public, managing, building and displaying their collection of historical objects, records or other documents.
- Evaluating records for preservation and retention, and assessing items that may be fragile
- Ensuring materials are stored 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, and preparing procedures for archival research, and for the retention or destruction of records
- Giving talks and organising presentations, displays and exhibitions
- Negotiating the buying or donation of archive material
You could work with objects like books, maps, photographs, computer records, recordings and film. You might also be involved in converting physical archives to digital storage. Your working environment could be temperature controlled, cramped or dusty.
To become an archivist you'll need a passion for history, good organisational skills, and a methodical and careful approach.
You'll normally 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, or languages.
After completing a degree, most people will 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. You can approach local archives or charities for work experience opportunities.
With experience, you could work with larger and more prestigious organisations, like national archives and museums, businesses, church foundations and charities.