Is becoming an archivist right for me?
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How to become an Archivist
Becoming an archivist typically requires a combination of education, training, and experience. Below are the detailed steps to become an archivist:
- Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree is typically the first step towards becoming an archivist. While there is no specific undergraduate degree required for this field, it is recommended to have a degree in a related field such as history, art history, library science, or library and archives assisting.
- Earn a Master's Degree: Most archivist positions require a Master's Degree in Library Science, History, or a related field. Some programs offer a specialization in archival studies, and courses in this field may cover topics such as archival principles, preservation, and digital archives.
- Gain Work Experience: Many archivist positions require prior work experience, typically in a related field such as library science or museum work. Internships or volunteer work at libraries, archives, or museums can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities.
- Obtain Professional Certification: Certification is not always required, but it can demonstrate a level of expertise and dedication to the field (see below).
- Develop Technical Skills: Archivists must be comfortable using a variety of technical tools, including digital databases, scanners, and software for cataloging and preservation. Familiarity with programming languages and metadata standards may also be required.
- Network and Build Professional Relationships: Networking and building relationships with other professionals in the field is important for staying up-to-date on the latest practices and technologies, as well as for finding job opportunities.
- Apply for Archivist Positions: Once the required education, training, and experience have been obtained, it's time to start looking for archivist positions. Job listings can be found on job boards, professional associations, and organizational websites.
The following certifications can help archivists demonstrate their expertise and commitment to their profession. Additionally, they can enhance career prospects and open up new opportunities for professional growth.
- Certified Archivist (CA) - The Society of American Archivists (SAA) offers this certification to individuals who meet their education and experience requirements and pass an exam. The CA certification focuses on professional standards and best practices for archival work in the United States.
- Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) - SAA also offers this certification for archivists who specialize in digital archives. The DAS certification covers topics such as born-digital materials, digital preservation, and electronic records management.
- Certified Records Manager (CRM) - The Institute of Certified Records Managers offers this certification for professionals who manage records and information in various industries, including archives. The CRM certification covers topics such as records retention, legal compliance, and information governance.
- Information Governance Professional (IGP) - ARMA International offers this certification for professionals who are responsible for managing information assets in organizations. The IGP certification covers topics such as information management principles, legal and regulatory compliance, and risk management.
- Archival Management Certificate - This certificate program is offered by the Academy of Certified Archivists and focuses on practical skills and knowledge needed for managing archives, such as collection development, access and use, and preservation.
Here are some helpful resources for archivists:
- Society of American Archivists (SAA): SAA is a professional organization that provides resources and support to archivists. They offer online courses, webinars, publications, and networking opportunities.
- International Council on Archives (ICA): ICA is an international organization that promotes the preservation and use of archives around the world. They provide guidelines, standards, and training for archivists.
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): NARA is the official archives of the United States government. They offer resources for archivists, including training and guidance on records management.
- American Library Association (ALA): ALA provides resources and support for librarians and archivists. They offer webinars, publications, and networking opportunities.
- Archivists' Toolkit: Archivists' Toolkit is an open-source software program that helps archivists manage collections. It provides tools for accessioning, processing, and describing archival materials.
- Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC): DPC is an international organization that provides resources and support for digital preservation. They offer training, guidelines, and advocacy for digital preservation.
- Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG): PASIG is a community of experts in digital preservation and archiving. They offer online resources, webinars, and networking opportunities for archivists working with digital materials.
- The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC): ARSC is a professional organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings. They offer resources and support for archivists working with audiovisual materials.