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Digital Archivist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a digital archivist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and potential certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

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History is stored in a variety of platforms, one of those methods being digital media. A digital archivist collects, stores and maintains digital archives. In order to become a digital archivist, most employers require prospective employees to hold a master's degree in archival science or a related field.

Essential Information

Digital archivists maintain historically significant collections of documents and records, and seek out new items for archiving. They may work at museums, libraries, government agencies, foundations or corporations, where they collect and organize materials such as photographs, electronic data, film clips, paper documents and recordings. Because of the increased ubiquity of digital technology, archivists with knowledge of digital storage are far more likely to be hired. A bachelor's degree is required for entry into this field, although most employers also require a master's degree.

Required Education Most employers require a master's degree in archival science, library science, or a related field
Recommended Credentials Certification offered by the Academy of Certified Archivists
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $50,250*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Digital Archivist

Archivists rely on historical knowledge to select records and information that have value. Using accepted industry standards, archivists preserve records to ensure materials are available in the long term. To perform these tasks, archivists generally possess the organizational skills required to manage large amounts of data and the interpersonal skills to assist researchers. Archivists typically also possess analytical and research abilities needed to determine which records are worthy of preservation.

Digital Archivist Job Duties

Digital archivists locate original materials produced in a variety of formats, including photographs, documents, recordings and film. They then preserve these materials in a digital format for long-term storage and preservation. Archivists also organize records, using a process that involves cataloging them and preparing them for public access. They then write descriptions of the preserved records, which researchers may use to locate materials.

Additionally, archivists sometimes create multiple copies of source materials to provide the public with wider access to historical records. They might also assist researchers with locating records and suggest the implementation of new technologies that make historically significant documents more readily accessible to the general public.

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Job Requirements for a Digital Archivist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers hire digital archivists who hold graduate degrees in library science or history (www.bls.gov). They may also seek out archivists who have specialized historical knowledge relevant to their particular collections. A degree program in library science may include courses in archival methods, information services, information organization, management principles and technology. These programs may also require archival studies students to complete internships, which can provide them with the opportunity to work under experienced digital archivists.

The Academy of Certified Archivists provides voluntary certification to archivists. To qualify for the credential, candidates are required to complete a master's degree program, pass a written exam and obtain professional experience. Individuals with a master's degree in archival studies must have at least a year of professional experience, while those with a degree in another area must have at least two years of experience. Archivists can also advance their careers by enrolling in continuing education courses and by transferring to larger facilities with available management and supervisory positions.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for archivists in general were expected to increase by 7% from 2014-2024. The BLS also noted that demand for archivists well-versed in electronic media will be greater than the need for those with experience only in traditional formats. In 2015, archivists earned an annual median salary of $50,250, per the BLS.

Digital archivists store digital information for easy access to museums, libraries and research facilities. They are tasked with storing pieces of history, making them more easily accessible to academics and other persons who may be interested.

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