Job Description:

Archivists look after and preserve collections of historical records and documents.

Job Category:
Art & Fashion

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • store materials correctly and keep them in good condition
  • use archive management software to date, catalogue and index materials
  • create and set up programmes to digitise records and materials
  • help people use the archives
  • make records available to users in formats such as photocopies, microfiche and online
  • carry out research
  • give talks and organise presentations, displays and exhibitions
  • negotiate the buying or donation of archive material


You’ll need:

  • an interest and knowledge of history
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • administration and organisation skills 
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • concentration skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an archivist typically doesn’t require specific GCSE subjects, but certain subjects and skills can be beneficial for pursuing a career in this field. Archivists are responsible for organizing, preserving, and managing historical records and documents. Here are some relevant GCSE subjects and skills that can be helpful:

  1. History: GCSE-level history can provide a foundation for understanding historical contexts, research methods, and the importance of preserving historical records. History is often considered one of the most relevant subjects for aspiring archivists.
  2. English: Strong communication skills, including reading and writing, are essential for cataloging and describing archival materials, writing finding aids, and communicating effectively with researchers and colleagues.
  3. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks like inventory management and record-keeping.
  4. Information Technology (IT): Familiarity with computer systems and digital tools is increasingly important in archiving, as many records are now digitized. Knowledge of databases, digital preservation, and metadata standards is valuable.
  5. Library and Information Science (if available): Some schools offer GCSE-level courses related to library and information science, which can introduce you to principles of information organization and management, including those applicable to archives.
  6. Geography: Geography can provide insights into the geographical and environmental aspects of historical records and documents.


Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering

You’ll 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
  • languages

After you complete a degree, you can do a postgraduate qualification in archives or records management (in the UK this would need to be 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 could do an Archivist and records manager degree apprenticeship.

This typically takes 36 months to complete as a mix of learning in the workplace and study with an approved university.

It’s important that you get some paid or unpaid experience in archives or records management work. This will help when you apply for courses and jobs.

Career Tips

Building a strong professional network, including joining archival associations and attending conferences, can also be valuable for career advancement in the field of archiving. Remember that specific job requirements and qualifications can vary depending on the institution and the type of archives you’re interested in, whether it’s a historical society, government archive, corporate archive, or academic archive.

Professional and industry bodies
In the UK, you can join the Archives & Records Association and get access to industry news, professional development courses and networking events. You can also join the Information and Records Management Society.

The IRMS offers industry news, events, resources and the opportunity to apply for accreditation once you have several years experience in the role.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work in an office.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, cramped and dusty.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could work with large and prestigious organisations, like national archives and museums, businesses, church foundations and charities.

You could supervise or manage a team of archivists, be responsible for funding bids and advise on strategy and planning.

You could become self-employed.