This page will aim to advise on the different opportunities available to those interested in a career in archives, records management or archive conservation, as well as, give an idea of the skills and qualifications required in order to take your interest further.
If you are interested in a career within the archives, records management or archive conservation professions, it is a good idea to seek experience beforehand to see if it is right for you. Further information about what each career entails and the skills required can be found here.
Many repositories across the UK will take on volunteers, and it is worth contacting them directly. Volunteering enables you to gain valuable on-the-job experience and insight into the profession, as well as demonstrating your commitment. The ARA has a list of archives that are willing to take on volunteers, and there is also a full list of UK archives available on the National Archives Discovery webpage where you can find those local to your area. Volunteer positions are usually unpaid, however some organisations/repositories might offer to reimburse your travel and/or lunch costs, or allow discounts in their cafe and shops.
Every year there are also many "Archive Assistant" and "Archive/Graduate Trainee" posts advertised, which are intended for those who wish to gain pre-course experience before undertaking a professional qualification on an accredited course. These posts are normally paid or have a bursary, and will often last up to a year. These pop up throughout the year and all over the UK, most of which are advertised on the Archives-NRA list, alongside general discussions and other events. A similar list for Records Management related posts can be found on the RECORDS-MANAGEMENT-UK list and on Information and Records Management Society.
Positions may also be available which combine on the job training with formal study, providing funding towards tuition fees whilst you also work part time.
There are also a few paid work experience placements or internships advertised now and then, which are for a shorter period compared to the year-long traineeships. These posts are also mostly advertised on the Archives-NRA list. For more information, please see ARA’s page on Placement Opportunities.
If you decide to apply for a degree/diploma course (see below for more information) it is worth bearing in mind that in most cases all of them will ask for some element of pre-course experience.
These professions are all highly vocational and require a great deal of specialist knowledge which is taught mostly through postgraduate diplomas or degrees.
Currently there are a range of archive and records management courses available at various universities throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, which have been accredited by the ARA. Please see ARA’s dedicated webpages on Careers in Records Management, Careers in Archives and Careers in Archive Conservation for further information.
As a new professional, it may be the case that you start your career working contract or fixed term positions before acquiring a permanent job, which provides you with the opportunity to build up your CV working in different organisations, and acquire and develop relevant skills. Jobs are advertised through the Archives-NRA list, RECORDS-MANAGEMENT-UK list, as well as, the ARA via the ARC Recruitment newsletter, Information and Records Management Society recruitment publication and on the Institute of Conservation website. Jobs can also be found via Google and newspapers, and job advertisement webpages such as Guardian Jobs and Jobs.ac.uk.