Becoming a Publishing Archivist: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a publishing archivist? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary information to see if becoming a publishing archivist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Publishing Archivist

Archivists help preserve information for posterity, as well as for the interests of people and organizations in the present. Read more about the pros and cons of a publishing archivist career and whether it's right for you.

Pros of a Publishing Archivist Career
Above-average salary ($52,930 mean wage as of May 2014)**
Opportunity to preserve history**
Being at the forefront of digital technology trends**
Ability to specialize and gain professional certification*

Cons of a Publishing Archivist Career
Increasing employment competition (expect around 17% from 2012-2022)**
High-level education requirements**
Potentially low entry-level income**

Sources: *U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Duties

Publishing archivists maintain what is arguably a company or organization's most valuable asset: published information. Archivists develop classification systems and provide reference services for information collections, as well as maintain the security and quality of stored documents. The role of publishing archivists is rapidly evolving and shifting because an ever-increasing amount of material requires preservation and storage in electronic form. Complex database, imaging and multimedia software has become an integral part of the modern archiving landscape, and publishing archivists must be fluent in these technologies.

In addition to preservation duties, a publishing archivist may need to research and locate new or historical material, authenticate and appraise documents, and note the meaning and importance of documents. When working for a larger company or organization, publishing archivists might also supervise archive technicians.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment projections for the 2012-2022 decade show a 17% increase in jobs for archivists in all industries, which is about average (www.bls.gov). Competition for jobs could be strong, and those with a relevant master's degree and/or expertise in new media technologies may have an edge. The BLS also reports that archivists earned a mean salary of about $52,930 in 2014.

Education Requirements

Publishing archivists usually need a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate programs concentrating on archival science or archiving for publishers are rare, but you could earn a bachelor's degree in library and information science, combining the traditional role of library archivist with emerging trends in information technology. A master's degree is often required as well, in areas such as archival science, library science, digital records management or history.

Besides technological skills, publishing archivists must be able to organize large volumes of information and discern the relative importance of documents. Since archivists often with work the public, excellent interpersonal and communication skills are important. You might also need to know about topics relevant to the archived collection you work with. For instance, if you work for a publisher of natural history books, your employer might want you to have a background in natural history.

Real Job Listings for Publishing Archivists

In addition to a college degree, many employers require professional experience, and excellent clerical skills are also in demand. If you'll be supervising a staff, you might also need a background in administration or management. Here are some examples of what real employers looked for in February 2012:

  • A private consulting firm in Denver sought a continuous quality improvement specialist or archivist to coordinate a library of educational material. The job required creativity, diplomacy and a working knowledge of digital content. Also essential was a master's degree in educational technology or experience as a librarian or archivist.
  • An East Coast publisher of educational materials looked for an archivist/content manager to oversee a collection of digital humanities textbooks. Candidates were to be proficient in programs like Quark and Adobe Creative Suite. A master's degree from an American Library Association-accredited program was required, in addition to 5-7 years of digital experience in a publishing or library setting.
  • A large e-books publisher in New York City wanted a digital archivist to ingest, store and manage its collection. Minimum requirements included a 4-year degree or at least one year of professional experience, attention to detail, organization skills and fluency with publishing technology.

How to Get Ahead as a Publishing Archivist

The BLS notes that with electronic technology playing an increasing role in publishing archivist careers, training and experience with specific technologies might provide you with a competitive edge. There are a number of professional certifications and/or continuing education programs, including those for certified document imaging architects (CDIA+), certified records managers and certified information professionals. In addition to completing a program, certification generally requires an academic degree and/or professional experience and the successful completion of a comprehensive exam.

Alternative Careers for Professional Archivists

Museum Curator

Instead of working with document collections, you may prefer to become a museum curator and focus on collections of artifacts, which could be historical, anthropological, scientific or artistic. To pursue this career, you'd need similar skills to that of an archivist, as well as specific training such as exhibit design, artifact preservation and mobile technology. According to the BLS, 2012-2022 projections indicate an average 11% employment growth rate for archivists, curators, and museum workers, in part, to continuing public interest in museums. Competition for jobs could be strong, however, and you might need to work part time or volunteer your services until you are hired. The BLS also reports that in 2014, curators earned a mean salary of about $56,690, well above the national average for all occupations.

Librarian

If you'd like to work with bigger and broader information collections, consider becoming a librarian. As with archiving, libraries are evolving to encompass not only paper books but massive amounts of electronic information. Librarians manage this information and help patrons gain access to it. They also catalog library materials, acquire new materials and library equipment, and may be responsible for supervising support staff or managing the budget. To work as a librarian, you'd need a master's degree in library science and, depending on your state, licensing and/or certification could be required. The BLS reports that in 2014, librarians earned a mean salary of about $58,110, with job growth expected at seven percent during the 2012-2022 decade.

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Featured Schools

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

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Full Sail University

  • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
  • M.S. - New Media Journalism
  • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)

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American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations

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Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Arts in Communication - General
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Integrated Digital Strategy Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Undecided

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Freelance Writer

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