Registered Membership: the experience route to enrolment

ARA is piloting a new approach for members interested in qualifying as a Registered Member of the ARA (RMARA) but who do not hold an ARA-accredited post graduate qualification.

Before it closed in 2017, Members may recall that the Registration Scheme offered two routes to enrolment; a route for graduates of ARA-accredited post graduate courses, and a route for those who were not, known as the experience route. These two routes ensured that Registered status was within the reach of all those able to meet the assessment criteria, regardless of academic background. All candidates had to meet the same standard to qualify, regardless of the route taken.

The new Professional Development Programme, which replaced the Registration Scheme in 2017, ushered in a new competency-based approach to qualification as a Registered Member of the ARA. A priority has been to continue with an experience route to enrolment and, following consultation with the Forum for Archives and Records Management Education and Research (FARMER) and ARA assessors, the ARA Board agreed to open enrolment to all ARA members, regardless of their level of experience or academic qualification.

To help potential candidates judge whether they have sufficient experience, the ARA makes the following recommendations for those thinking of enrolling;

  • Candidates with a post graduate qualification in a related subject (including international Archives and Records Management qualifications) may require 12 months’ relevant work experience after graduation.
  • Candidates with degree in a related subject (including international Archives and Records Management qualifications) may require 2 years’ relevant work experience after graduation.
  • Candidates with qualifications below the degree level may require 4 years’ relevant work experience.

The recommendations are there to guide candidates. The only way to know whether you have what it takes to qualify as a Registered Member is to self-assess your work experience against the competency framework. If, as a minimum, you can demonstrate a five competencies at level 3, and three competencies at level 2, then you meet the qualification criteria. All you need to do is develop your application and pass the assessment process.

By opening an new experience route the ARA is reaffirming its position as an inclusive professional membership organisation. High standards remain, as all candidates enrolled onto the Registered Membership programme, regardless of academic qualification, must meet the same standards in order to qualify. We will pilot this approach for 12 months before reviewing the outcomes.

Reaching out to a wider range of individuals will help attract and retain talent in the sector. Michelle Kaye, Collections Development Officer at The Glasgow School of Art said “I’m delighted that the ARA has recently chosen to open up its Professional Development Programme to a wider audience and now allows for those without a qualification to be eligible to apply for Registered Membership (RMARA). As a result, this new approach will enable a broader range of archive professionals to engage with the scheme at the Registered level.”

Karl Magee, chair of the ARA, explains the strategy behind this decision. “We’re leading a more inclusive approach to recruitment, retention and promotion of talent across the record-keeping sector. Our Professional Development Programme, and the planned record-keeping apprenticeships in England and Wales, will provide an alternative routes into the profession. We call on employers to recognise and support these initiatives.”

The pilot will close on 31st December 2020. We’d love to hear your views on the new approach to enrolment. Please email

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