Career Advice

Making a Career as a Video Archivist (With Job Duties and Skills)

Working on the organizing and archiving of video files is a part of a profession as a video archivist. For those who have an interest in either movies, history, or both, this could be an interesting employment option. You can more effectively get ready for a profession in the area by being aware of the prerequisites for a video archivist. In this post, we go over what a video archivist is, everything they do, the process of becoming one, the skills they require to succeed, the career outlook they may expect, and their expected compensation.

What exactly is a video archivist?

A specialist who archives movies, television programs, and other types of corporate video is known as a video archivist. To help people access the videos in a data repository and find the video they need, the archivist adds metadata to the media. To preserve them and make them more accessible, archivists might also work on digitizing ancient film videos. Archivists frequently work for production firms that make movies or television shows, but they can also work for institutions like film institutes.

What is the role of a video archivist?

A video archivist is responsible for a variety of tasks when building and keeping up a video archive. The work of a video archivist facilitates access to the movies for others by making the archives more structured and by providing avenues for people to watch the videos without directly entering the archives. Typical duties of a video archivist include:

  • Obtaining new videos to include in the collection, either through finding new sources or collecting videos that contributors have sent in
  • Watching obscure films to ascertain their substance, correctly classify, and recognize them
  • Adding metadata labels to videos to identify important video components would enhance archive searchability.
  • Putting real movies and video file systems into systems of organizing to make them simpler to locate
  • Preserving and making it easier to share videos that are presently only available on film through digitization
  • Assisting others in using the video archive and locating the necessary video files
  • Preparing shows that include vintage videos with a common topic
  • Updating the database as necessary to comply with new filing rules, keeping it up to date, and making sure all records are correct

How to Work as a Video Archivist

The steps below will help you get employment if you’re looking for a job as a video archivist:

1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree

Employers who are looking to hire a video archivist are likely to need at least a bachelor’s degree in library and information science, archive science, or another relevant discipline. The systems used to handle archives adhere to the principles you study during your education, allowing you to control the files in the archives more skillfully. Getting your degree also gives you real-world experience that you may use in the workplace.

2. Work as a volunteer or an intern for an archive organization

Having previous experience dealing with databases and archives can be helpful while searching for employment as a video archivist. Excellent possibilities to get experience in entry-level employment under the supervision of a more seasoned professional can be found in museums and libraries. When you graduate and start looking for your first job as a video archivist, having experience via both voluntary work and internship opportunities at organizations like these can be extremely beneficial.

3. Think about pursuing a master’s in archive studies.

A master’s degree can be useful, and certain roles may list it as a requirement, even though most firms do not specify it when posting openings for video archivists. By completing a master’s program, you gain access to specialized studies in the field, which raises both your level of knowledge and experience. This gives you more abilities and information to succeed if you are employed, which can make you a more desirable candidate for an open position.

4. Apply for job openings in the archives

You are prepared to look for employment in an archival job after your studies are complete. Employment is probably entry-level, but if you have a master’s degree, you might look for a mid or senior-level position. Although it may be advantageous to your career development to apply for a role dealing with video archives, it is not required for your first archival employment. You can get experience that is useful when applying for video archivist employment in the future, for instance, by working as a librarian.

5. Obtain a certification

When looking for a job, becoming certified by the Academy of certified archivists might make you stand out among other candidates who have similar qualifications. A few years of labor to establish your professional life and at least a master’s degree are required before you can become a certified archivist. If you possess a master’s degree in the archive sciences, two years of practical experience, and a master’s degree in a separate discipline, you are qualified to apply. A written test is also part of certification to verify your knowledge.

6. Continue to learn new skills

Understanding contemporary methods of keeping an archive database up to date is crucial when operating in an archival role. Reading archival literature and attending professional events, including conferences, helps keep you up to date on industry trends. This enables you to demonstrate a modern attitude to your video archivist responsibilities, which might enhance your candidacy for open employment.

7. Update your application and resume

It’s helpful to read the job description again and make note of any significant responsibilities and qualifications included in the description before filling out an application for a vacant video archivist job. If you have any pertinent experience, be sure to update your resume with what your future employer has determined to be most crucial. To match your CV to the job description, concentrate on instances where you can demonstrate these skills or where you have handled comparable duties. You might have better luck when you apply for jobs as a result.

Skills needed for a video archivist

It’s helpful to be aware of the essential qualifications needed for the role while thinking about a profession as a video archivist. This aids in your comprehension of the skills you should develop to stand out as a candidate. An essential set of abilities for a video archivist is:

Observation of details

You can remember key details and prevent mistakes if you pay close attention to the details. A video archivist must pay close attention to the details so that they can classify and catalog videos correctly for the archive. This increases the value the archive offers by making it easier for users to access.


When working with other experts, a video archivist needs to be able to communicate effectively. Both written and verbal communication are included in this. You can more precisely determine which videos are accessible if you have open communication with those who are giving the videos. Other people looking for information concerning a video in your archive may benefit from your knowledge of communication techniques in a more precise way.

Knowledge of computers

Your capacity to use a computer efficiently is referred to as computer literacy. You will probably have digital components for your collection while dealing with a video archive. Digital videos are a common feature of contemporary video archives, thus it’s critical to know how to use and retrieve these files. Computers are frequently used in physical archives to maintain a record of the items in the archive.

Database Administration

Your database management skills include information retrieval, the addition of new entries, and the updating of existing ones. Being able to handle the database that contains information on all the videos in the archive is essential for a video archivist. When you or someone else needs a certain video file or video files that match a given tag, having effective database abilities enables you to browse the database quickly and effectively.


The details detailing what a video file includes are known as its metadata when dealing with a video archive. The title and pertinent tags of a video may be included here. A video archivist’s ability to work with metadata is crucial, and a prospective company is likely to look for it when hiring new employees.


You can arrange information in an orderly way if you have good organizational abilities. The ability to efficiently build and maintain organizational structures within the archive is made possible by the organization, which is a crucial talent for video archivists. This makes it simple for anyone looking for information, including you, to locate specific files.

Pay and employment prospects for video archivists

The experience, size, and location of the company where a video archivist works can all affect how much they make. According to data from Indeed, a general archivist makes an average yearly pay of $61,808. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts significant development in the industry, with archivist employment expected to increase by 11% between 2019 and 2029.

Position Types

The institutions from which AV archivists come take many different kinds. The primary categories most jobs come under our administration, access, conservation, and/or preservation. The breakdown below is most appropriate for institutions that are more established and have more staff members and financial resources.

However, smaller or more recent institutions might only have one or two people to manage the majority of the below-mentioned duties because of the size of the library, the need for extra infrastructure, and/or financial constraints. There are employment opportunities at for-profit businesses that contract out preservation, restoration, and/or accessibility work to cultural organizations.

  • Entry-level positions, including processing technicians, project archivists, shippers, and assistant archivists, typically manage the initial administration of collections, which includes surveying, sorting, conditioning, rehousing, categorizing, preparing objects for playback, access digitalization, storage and retrieval of items, and shipping.
  • People in mid-level jobs, like catalogers, reference specialists, archivists, vault managers, coordinators, librarians or project managers, curators, and consultants, have more experience with project management. They are typically more concentrated on a particular area of AV preservation, like dealing with the community on organizing preservation, research initiatives, programming, or collection acquisitions.
  • Engineers and specialists: These mid-level to upper-level professions may also focus on technical areas such as photochemistry printing, scheduling, electronic restoration, sound and video preservation, database administration, and digital wealth management.
  • Executive roles at restoration or preservation services firms, as well as significant archives or special archives, are typically held by presidents, managers, or leaders of those organizations.

Employer Categories

For-profit and nonprofit organizations alike employ a wide range of audiovisual archivists. They consist of, but are not restricted to:

  • Corporate and commercial archives from studios or stock film providers
  • Federal and state archives supported by the government
  • Historical organizations and local archives
  • Libraries at universities and colleges, special collections, media, or departments of library science
  • Public or neighborhood school libraries
  • Museums
  • Stations for television and radio
  • Festivals of music and film
  • Performance arts companies
  • NGOs and groups that advocate
  • Vendors for specialized software, hardware, and maintenance services
  • scholarly organizations
  • Independent professionals working as consultants or researchers

Types of Collections

Each collection’s structure and content will differ substantially based on the institution’s collecting policy. A commercial institution like a studio will include products from other studio libraries it has bought or from its output catalog. Based on the preferences of its visitors, each museum or library with particular collections will make acquisitions. Regional archives will compile material based on local production, such as home videos and commercials.

Regardless of the institution’s collection guidelines, audiovisual collections will probably also be obtained with print or pictorial materials, or artifacts (like awards, microphones, etc.). Some collections could be mostly composed of paper but also include audio interviews or home videos. Posters, scripts, or other ephemera are frequently included in commercial moving picture collections of 35-micrometer or 16-micrometer films. While other institutions maintain the complete collection intact, certain institutions separate apart these collections and transfer them to various sections. As a result, AV archivists should feel at ease working with various unique collection formats and contents.

Prospects for the Profession

Audiovisual archives and preservation are adopting digital thinking more and more, similar to other disciplines of library science and archiving. This development is partly brought on by born-digital purchases (media that was initially produced in digital format). Digital asset administration teams look after collections that were born digitally and collections that had been digitized (for preservation and access). However, this does not imply that AV archivists won’t be required in the future.

A specialized AV archivist will be required because of the quantity of AV materials already in existing archives and the items that must still be obtained from private and commercial collections. Additionally, there will always be a need to provide better access through database administration and carefully selected exhibitions. These will keep AV archivists busy for many years to come, along with improved conservation and restoration methods.


Similar to many other industries, AV archiving has experienced growth and professionalization. Today, getting a Master’s degree is the norm for people beginning jobs in AV archiving. A Ph.D., MBA, or extra Master’s degree in a particular field may be required for those who want to hold senior management positions.

To prepare students for professional jobs in AV archiving, graduate degree programs often provide either an MA in a subject area like records management, historic studies, communication systems, or film studies, or a Master’s in librarianship and information science (MLIS) or Masters of Science in Information (MSI) with a focus on sound recordings, preservation management, or materials conservation.

There are benefits and drawbacks to every degree kind. For instance, if you’re thinking about operating in a college library and desire a more academic environment, you might want to consider pursuing an MLIS/MSI from a recognized degree in information studies. A media studies program with an emphasis on archives may be a good choice if you are interested in careers that need additional curatorial work or historical study within moving picture collections.

No matter what degree they provide, many programs combine theory-based classroom instruction with practical work and education in the shape of fieldwork or internship assignments in archives.

Without having earned a specialist degree, several people with various types of training or work experience have joined the AV archiving industry. The majority of the time, individuals achieve this by working toward certification or gaining experience through volunteer work or an internship at an archive or special collection. Even for entry-level work in AV archives, a master’s degree is becoming an increasing requirement.

  • Collegiate chapters: There are student chapters of AMIA that might be able to offer further details on how each program is structured and the school environment.
  • Opportunities for Internships or Experience: Opportunities for fellowships, internships, and volunteer work are plentiful across the board. AMIA provides fellowships and internships funded by various organizations. On our website, scholarships, professional prizes, and grants are additional opportunities. Before deciding on a degree program, volunteering at a neighborhood archive is an excellent way to acquire a sense of the field.

Professional Development and Associations

Gain engagement with the associations by becoming a member, joining the listservs, or attending a summit or meeting to get a sense of what the profession is actually like, what direction it is headed, and the kinds of individuals who make it up. The Association of Moving Image Archives (AMIA) and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) in the United States are the most approachable associations for any level of understanding.

While other associations, like the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA) or the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA), are directed at professional/institutional members, and might not give voting power at the assisting individual level, both AMIA and ARSC offer full voting member status to individuals, without particular application requirements.

Reading some of the related literature or seeing some of the related media will help you learn more about the industry and its history.


Another position with libraries or museums, such as an education officer or a marketer, might be of interest to you. As an alternative, you might think about working as an archive editor in the unscripted TV sector.

Frequently Asked Questions on Video Archivists

  • What does a video archivist do?

An expert archivist with a thorough knowledge of the development, conservation, preservation, restoration, accessibility, and curation of audiovisual formats is known as an audiovisual archivist (for example, film, magnetic audiotapes and video, optical media, and digital media).

  • What steps should I take to become a digital archivist?

Schooling: A graduate degree in history (or a closely related field) or a Master in Library Science (MLS) from an American Library Association (ALA)-certified program is necessary. There is a significant requirement for graduate-level training in archive administration/theory.

  • What exactly does a video archivist do?

An individual working at a professional standard in an audiovisual archive, developing, administering, preserving, or giving access to its archive, or serving its customers, is referred to as an audiovisual archivist if they have received official training or accreditation in this field.

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