Starting a career as an archivist gives you the responsibility of protecting and administration of historical records. With this career, you can work in places such as libraries, museums, historical societies, government agencies, and corporations. A career as an archivist can be a good fit if you are passionate about history as well as preserving historical documents.


An archivist is in charge of preserving, organising, and managing historical records and papers. Additionally, their main goal is to make sure that important documents are preserved and available to subsequent generations. Furthermore, they utilize specialised methods to assess, gather, organise, characterize, and maintain records to guarantee their preservation and continued accessibility for scholars and other users.


In this piece, I will walk you through the steps to take in pursuing a career as an archivist.

How to Become an Archivist

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    You need a bachelor’s degree to start a career as an archivist. You can obtain a degree in areas such as library and information science, history, or a related field.

  2. Earn a Master’s Degree

    A master’s degree is important in this career path. A master’s degree is important because it can give you access to higher positions as well as high earning potential. Additionally, it will enable you to have access to specialised education in the area of interest you wish to explore. You can obtain a master’s degree in areas such as Library Science, History or a related field. Furthermore, you can gain specialised education in archival principles, preservation, and digital archives.

  3. Gain Work Experience

    You can gain experience through internships or volunteering. These roles can be offered by places such as libraries, museums, or archives. Gaining experiences will enable you to develop your skills and apply the theoretical knowledge you have gained in real-world settings. Additionally, you will be able to have networking opportunities and build valuable experience.

  4. Choose an Area of Specialisation

    There are various areas that you can specialise in as an archivist. You can choose areas such as appraisal archivists, digital archivists or community archivists. These specialisations will enable you to narrow your focus as well as gain competence in your chosen niche.

  5. Obtain Professional Certifications

    This is not a compulsory requirement. However, it can be beneficial to you as an archivist. These certifications can demonstrate your expertise as well as show your dedication to this field.

  6. Develop Technical Skills

    As an archivist, you should be able to use technical tools such as scanners, software and digital databases. You will use these tools for cataloguing and preservation. Additionally, it would be best if you familiarized yourself with programming languages and computer skills.

  7. Network and Build Professional Relationships

    It is critical to build professional relationships with other industry professionals. This can enable you to have access to career opportunities. Additionally, you will be able to stay current on the newest practices and technologies.


Types of Archivists

  1. Digital Archivist: These archivists are experts in the management of digital records and archives, such as electronic documents, photos, and other born-digital artefacts. Additionally, they handle and safeguard electronic files using specialised software and techniques.
  2. Outreach Archivist: These archivists employ public programming and outreach initiatives to promote the use of archival collections. Furthermore, they construct exhibitions, deliver talks, or generate educational materials to engage a wide range of people.
  3. Appraisal Archivist: These archivists assess the historical and scholarly worth of collections. Additionally, they also collaborate with donors to acquire additional collections that are related to the mission and aims of the archive.
  4. Reference Archivist: These archivists offer reference services, aid in the location of items, and support researchers in the use of archival resources. They might also offer advice on research techniques and tactics, as well as education on how to use archival materials.
  5. Institutional Archivist: These archivists oversee the holdings of an organisation or institution, such as a museum, government agency, or university. Additionally, they might try to build new collections that fit the institution’s objectives.
  6. Processing Archivist: These archivists organise and characterize archival collections to make them more accessible and usable to scholars. Additionally, they provide finding aids and other descriptive tools to assist users in navigating collections and locating relevant resources.
  7. Community Archivist: These archivists collaborate with populations and organisations to document their heritage and customs, as well as to conserve and make archive resources available.


Skills Required for an Archivist

  1. Research
  2. Retrieval
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Organization
  5. Analysis
  6. Computer literacy


Places to Work as an Archivist

  1. Museums
  2. Libraries
  3. Universities
  4. Government agencies
  5. Private companies


Universities in Africa that Offer Library and Information Science

  1. Cairo University, Egypt
  2. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  3. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  4. University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. Alexandria University, Egypt
  6. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  7. Mansoura University, Egypt
  8. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  9. Assiut University, Egypt
  10. University of Zambia, Zambia
  11. Tanta University, Egypt
  12. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  13. Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
  14. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  15. Assiut University, Egypt
  16. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  17. Tunis University, Tunisia
  18. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  19. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  20. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  21. Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  22. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  23. University of Ghana, Ghana
  24. University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  25. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  26. University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  27. University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  28. Makerere University, Uganda
  29. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  30. University of Botswana, Botswana


Finally, starting a career as an archivist allows you to explore boundless opportunities for your personal and career growth. Additionally, you will serve a critical role in preserving our cultural legacy and providing access to valuable historical documents and artefacts. Furthermore, you will play a vital role in assisting academics, scholars, and others in the community in gaining access to historical records.


Good luck!

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