ARA professional registration; the benefits

Frederick Alexander, archivist at Historic Environment Scotland, explains the benefits of ARA’s professional development programme that go beyond letters after your name.

In 2018 I graduated from the Information Management and Preservation postgraduate course at the University of Glasgow. This course gave me a strong foundation in archive science, records management and digital preservation. However, since graduation I have been constantly learning, either through my workplace, CPD, or peer-to-peer learning. In preparing my FMARA application I have been asked to highlight my current workplace experience, as well as identify six competencies that I want to develop over a set period (usually one or two years). For each competency I have had to:

• Review my activity;

• Identify my current level;

• Discuss what I have done to develop it;

• Demonstrate how I have been able to implement it in my career.

One of the competencies I have chosen to develop is ‘digital curation: preserving born digital and digitised records and archives.’ This is a competency that directly relates to my current role working on a digitisation project, as well as my career goals of working in digital preservation. To develop this competency I have read Trevor Owens’ The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, attended presentations and lectures, and undertaken free online courses to strengthen my digital skills. Summarising all of these into a single document has helped me consolidate my learning, as well as allowing me to more confidently speak about my skills during interviews and project applications.

Taking part in ARA’s professional development programme has given me a sense of confidence in my professional skills and experience. It has also allowed me to have a sharper sense of what employers are looking for in the current workforce. Working with a programme mentor has been equally beneficial, giving me the opportunity to have frank conversations with another professional who has more experience in the sector.

Professional recognition from the ARA will give me the ability to enter salary negotiations on a stronger footing, as ARA’s Pay Review Group benchmarks its salaries using the ARA’s professional levels of membership. I would recommend that all early career professionals consider setting professional registration as part of their development goals. This programme has given me more flexibility in thinking about my professional development. It has forced me to consider the full breadth of skills I should be developing. I now see my career as a process of lifelong learning and look forward to continuing my professional development.

(Article first published in ARC magazine July 2020)

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