What they do

An archivist analyses and documents records, and plans and organises the collection, preservation and storage of those records. Records can be written documents, photographs, audio or visual recordings, electronic records and any other medium where events, and information of historical interest or significance are stored. The records that archivists maintain generally have a continuing historical value, and will be kept and preserved indefinitely. This is unlike a company/business whose records can be destroyed after a legally defined period.

Working conditions

Archivists work for government departments, such as the State Records Office of Western Australia, and other organisations which keep historical records, such as museums, libraries, universities, and professional and trade associations. Conditions such as temperature, light and humidity in the storage areas of archives are carefully controlled to preserve materials, so archivists may frequently work in cold, dim and dry conditions. They generally work regular office hours.

Archivists have a high level or contact with people, often assisting researchers and the public to locate information stored in the archive. In larger archives they frequently work in teams, though smaller collections may only require one or two archivists to manage them.

Tools and technologies

Archivists use computers to keep a record of what is included in their archives and to locate specific records when required. Depending on the contents of an archive, they may also use microfilm readers and audio-visual equipment. They also use special packaging materials to preserve any records in storage.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become an archivist, you usually need to study a degree in librarianship, corporate information management or a related area.

Curtin University of Technology offers a Bachelor of Arts, with a double major in Librarianship and Corporate Information Management. This is the only undergraduate degree specialising in archiving available in Western Australia

Alternatively, you can undertake a degree in any discipline, followed by a postgraduate qualification in records management and archives, information and library studies, information management, or heritage studies. Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses.

Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.