so, how much can you make as an archivist, really?
I completed my grad degree in library and information studies over five years ago. I do not have a permanent, full-time job as an archivist, and I am about to be
unemployed self-employed again in two weeks, when my current (part-time!) contract ends. It wasn’t my intention to do a whole lot of freelance copy-editing, proofreading — and some writing — while looking for a full-time job for half a decade, but life has a way of making things kind of wild and random. Predictability is boring, right?
Hunting for a job is all about smoke and mirrors: isn’t that what all this job searching crap teaches you, anyway? Play the game the employers want you to: we’re all a bunch of multi-tasking team players who also work well independently, right?
I’m re-posting something I wrote long before I was invited to contribute to this collective blog. It’s still relevant: after half a decade of scanning job ads, composing cover letters and reconfiguring resumes, I’m feeling a whole lot of righteous anger whenever a ridiculous job posting appears on a job board or listserv.
The original post can be found here, but I’m re-posting in its entirety, so no need to aggravate any pre-existing repetitive stress injuries you may have developed by endless clicking, clicking, clicking….
Originally posted on Thursday, April 14, 2011:
It’s spring, so it’s time for a shitload of employers to post their Young Canada Works jobs: jobs that are partially funded by the government for students between the ages of 15 and 30. The employer pays half, the government pays half, and a student gets a job that is related to his or her career goals. The pay varies wildly, depending on how much money the institution has.
I recently heard a random statistic on the radio that a living wage in Vancouver is determined to be around the $18/hr mark. That’s $10 more an hour than the current minimum wage in British Columbia, and $8 more than what the minimum wage will be around this time next year. A living wage is what you need to cover basic expenses. The average hourly wage in BC is $23.16.
Here is one full-time position, posted to a listserv. They are paying $13 an hour.
Job Posting: Archive Digitizaion Assistant/Library Assistant
Position: Archive Digitization Assistant/Library Assistant
Duration: 14 weeks, 35 hours per week, Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM, $13/hr
Eligibility: Full-time post-secondary student returning to full-time studies in the Fall, aged 15-30
Start date: To be arranged no later than May 30th, 2011
And here is another full-time position, for $23.96 an hour:
That second job posting? It pays more than my current job. I make less than the average hourly wage in BC. I’m also throwing 63% of what I earn towards rent right now — financial experts say you shouldn’t be paying more than 30-35% of your income towards rent/mortgage.
My current job requires a graduate degree in library and/or archives studies. That job listed above — no graduate degree necessary, but they still pay $1.00 + more an hour than what I am getting right now, with my fancy degrees. The City of Vancouver is currently advertising a position for a Parking Enforcement Officer: $23.96 per hour, and a high school diploma is the only educational requirement.
In 2005/06, I had a student job at McGill University that paid $9/hr.
The job wasn’t bad and at times it was really awesome, but the pay was terrible. I was 31 years old (too old to apply for any Young Canada Works jobs) and making $9 an hour, which was 50 cents more an hour than I had made 12 years previous, just out of high school, working in a chocolate store.
But I figured it was all temporary. $9 was a terrible wage, considering my education and skills, but it was in the field I wanted to be in, and hey! It’s just a student job! I’ll be making craploads in no time! [by "craploads" I figured I would be in the $45,000 to $55,000 range by year 5 of my life as an archivist -- entry level positions at Library and Archives Canada were being offered at $50,000 in 2006.] I will get a good job and pay back those loans, go on regular vacations, have a social life … I certainly didn’t anticipate developing an electrifying case of burnout during my first job out of grad school, or my brother-in-law killing himself and thereby shattering my family, or what all of the aforementioned would do to my world-view.
I have a job right now, and I am very, very grateful for it. But sometimes, I wish I could go back in time and make a different decision, one that didn’t include grad school. If I had stayed at the convenience store I was working at when I decided I needed to get more education, I would be earning more than what I am earning now (good union).
Or I would be in jail, because that job made me want to kill people. Or….. it doesn’t matter. I don’t have the money to get the supplies to build the time machine. But when my contract is done at the end of the summer, I’ll probably have the time to pursue a little physics research. We’ll see.