Competency Framework


The ARA competency framework

The ARA’s competency framework sets out the key competencies for professionals and volunteers working within the archives, conservation and records management sector. It is the first place you should refer to when thinking about your own career and professional development. Employers should also refer to the framework to ensure their staff meet national standards in practice and professional development.

The competency framework summary sets out 39 competencies that are grouped under three areas; organisational, process and stakeholder/customer. In addition to the competencies, the ARA has set five levels of experience; level 1 novice, level 2 beginner; level 3 competent; level 4 proficient, level 5 expert/authoritative. The five levels describe the typical activities undertaken by junior staff through to the most experienced professionals in senior managerial positions.

The following steps explain how to use the competency framework.

  1. 1.Self-assessment

Review the framework to identify the competencies that you already have, and those you would like to develop. You might like to discuss your options with your employer. You might find it helpful to develop your own professional development plan, which will help you decide your career and competency development goals. Please refer to our professional development plan guidance.

Once you have decided on the competencies you wish to develop, you can use the level descriptions below each competency as your professional development objectives.  This will help keep you focussed on obtaining the experience and knowledge that you will need.

The three documents below show the competencies and level descriptions by each of the three areas. These descriptions will help you understand your current level of experience, and help you plan how you will take your career to the next level.

By reviewing the framework summary and three competency and levels documents you can then identify which competencies you already have experience in, and map that experience across to the level descriptions provided in the framework. Once you have competed this exercise you will have a better understanding of your achievements and experience to date, and how this will relate to the standards (levels) set out in the ARA’s competency framework.

This process will also help you understand whether your current experience can be used in the ARA’s professional development programme.

  1. 2.The ARA’s professional development programme

The ARA’s professional development programme is a competency based process through which members can qualify as a Foundation, Registered or Fellow member of the ARA.

To qualify members must submit to the ARA a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates how they meet the required competency framework standards for Foundation, Registered or Fellow. Submitted portfolios are then assessed by Registered members trained in the assessment process. Successful candidates are rewarded with the level of membership (and professional qualification) they applied for.

  1. 3.Career and professional development planning

We strongly recommend that members produce a professional development plan to drive forward their own professional development and career options. Please visit our professional development plan to learn more.

Many employers operate a staff appraisal process and you should discuss the competency framework with your line manager during this cycle. This may lead to opportunities to gain experience in new areas, and help you build the experience you need to progress your career and qualify for an ARA professional qualification.

For further information and advice please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..