Archivist Degree, Certification and Training Program Overviews
Archivists enroll in archival studies programs to learn to preserve, store, organize and maintain valuable information and documents in a variety of formats. Degrees in archival studies are found at the graduate level, and include both master's and Ph.D. programs. Certificate training programs are available for individuals with a master's degree currently working in the field of public history.
Master's Degree in Archival Studies
Students in graduate-level archival studies programs learn about managing information in a variety of formats. Some programs require a reading knowledge of at least one other language in order to graduate. Programs take roughly two years to complete and often include an internship or practicum to develop hands-on skills.
Since undergraduate degrees in archival studies are not available, interested students may pursue bachelor's degrees in museum studies, information resources or library science, to prepare for a career as an archivist. Students who plan to pursue a career in a specific topic area, such as archiving scientific documents, may want to earn an undergraduate degree in a related subject.
Archival studies students learn to apply principles of preservation and information architecture to information and document collections, such as books and maps. Coursework includes:
- Archival theory
- Records appraisal and evaluation
- Database design
- Records management
- Archival technology
Museums, university libraries and historical sites keep archives and special collections safe from deterioration by employing staff with archival training. Additionally, governmental organizations, law firms and religious organizations hire professionals to maintain archive libraries. Job titles include:
- Manuscript curator
- Records manager
- Preservation specialist
- Special collections librarian
Continuing Education and Certification Information
The Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) offers voluntary certification for archivists with at least a master's degree (www.certifiedarchivists.org). Candidates with master's degrees in fields other than archival studies must demonstrate at least two years of archive administration experience prior to sitting for the ACA exam. Recertification is required every five years and can be based on retaking the ACA exam or by submitting a petition that lists the candidate's contributions to the field. Students who choose to continue their education may pursue a graduate certificate or a Ph.D. in Archival Studies.
Graduate Certificate Training Programs
Graduate certificate programs are designed for students with a master's degree in any field. Programs are typically offered through library sciences and information management departments and require the completion of approximately 18 credit hours and a practicum.
Graduate certificate program courses cover the basics of archive administration for professional and amateur historians. Courses include:
- Management of public records
- Archival theory
- Ethics of preservation
- Technology for records preservation
- Records management
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of archivists was expected to increase 12% over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). During the same period, related jobs of conservators and museum technicians were expected to increase 7%, and curators were expected to increase 25%. In May 2012, BLS data stated that the median annual wage of archivists was $47,340.
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education courses help archivists update their skills and stay abreast of information technology changes in the profession. Organizations such as the Society of American Archivists offer archival training courses in person and online for members and non-members.
Doctoral Degree in Archival Studies
Doctoral candidates in archival studies learn about how record keeping influences cultural memory. Ph.D. candidates explore various forms of records, such as still and moving images, electronic records, manuscripts and oral history. Prior to completion of the Ph.D. program, candidates must have a reading knowledge of at least one other language. Language requirements will vary, according to the area of academic study.
Ph.D. candidates in archival studies choose a single area of interest to focus their studies. Areas of focus include accountability, public memory, automated records creation, digitization and archival policy. Coursework includes:
- Information design
- Information management theory
- Information structures
- Research methods for archivists
With a Ph.D. in archival studies, employment options can be found in the private and public sectors. Job duties include researching, creating records and assisting journalists, technologists and archive users interested in mining data for non-traditional purposes. Popular job titles include:
- Archive administrator
- Professor of archival studies
- Professor of library and information services
- State archivist
- Supervisory archives specialist
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