Archivist Certification Programs

Voluntary certification are available for archivists and will require a graduate degree and professional experience. Continue reading for more details about the requirements to obtain professional certification as an archivist, common courses in a master's program, and career outlook. Schools offering American History degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Why Do I Need Certification to Become an Archivist?

Actually, you don't need certification. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) offers voluntary certification to individuals who meet specified standards of education and experience and pass a qualifying examination ( Certification acts as testimony to your research and analytical abilities, your management and organizational skills, and your understanding of preservation techniques regarding the treatment of permanently valuable historical records and documents; therefore, it may improve your job prospects.

Archivist CertificationVoluntary credential available from the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA)
Certification RequirementsMaster's degree, 1 to 2 years of qualifying professional experience
Common CoursesAppraisal and acquisition, digital preservation, archival access, collective memory, arrangement and description
Median Salary (2018)$52,240* (for archivists)
Job Outlook (2016-26)14%* (for all archivists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Obtain Certification?

The ACA states that to sit for the certification examination leading to your designation as a Certified Archivist, you must hold a master's degree and have completed 1-2 years of qualifying professional experience ( Your master's degree doesn't have to be in archival studies, but it can reduce the work experience requirement.

To find a school offering an archival studies master's program, you can search the online directory maintained by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The SAA is not an accrediting body, nor does it endorse any school or program, but it provides a list for your convenience ( You can also locate programs accredited by the American Library Science through its Web directory (

What Can I Expect in an Archival Studies Program?

Though you can earn a Master of Archival Studies, you may decide to pursue a Master of Library Science with a concentration in archives. Pursuing a graduate certificate in archival studies or archival administration is another alternative. Graduate certificate programs may be located in conjunction with a master's degree program or as post-master's options.

Some typical archive-related courses include appraisal and acquisition, arrangement and description, archival access, photographic archives, collective memory, preservation management, research methods and ethics. Due to the ever-advancing technology that characterizes contemporary society, studies in digital preservation may be emphasized. Submission of a master's thesis and completion of practicum or internship at a school-approved facility are two typical graduation requirements.

Some programs are available partially online. While you may be able to access material and participate in discussion rooms 24/7 at your convenience, instructors may require you to attend one or more synchronously delivered lectures per week. This means that you must log on at a specific time in order to participate in a live classroom session, which may entail real-time discussions. In addition, internships in an online program must be completed in person.

What Are Employment Opportunities and Wages Like?

The BLS projected that employment opportunities for archivists, curators, and museum workers are expected to increase 14% from 2016-2026. This is faster than the national average for all occupations. This may be due in part to the growing interest in historic preservation on behalf of various organizations, agencies and the public at large.

Salaries for archivists can vary greatly depending on the size and nature of the company or organization where you're employed. You may work for a government agency, university, library, private company, museum or historical site. In 2018, the BLS determined the median pay for all archivists, curators, and museum workers to be $52,240.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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