Careers in Records Management

Find out what it means to be a Records Manager, the skills and qualificationsinvolved and how to take your interest further.

Every day we are bombarded with information. It comes to us by mail, phone and the internet. If we are to put it to good use it must be organised in some way.

It is the job of the records manager to:

  • provide efficient access to the right information to support decision making, for operational purposes, as evidence of policies and activities and for litigation support
  • meet legal obligations for the creation and retention of paper and electronic records
  • maintain operational efficiency by controlling the volume of records created and stored
  • identify those records to be preserved for historical and research purposes and eliminate the rest as early as possible

Records managers achieve these goals in many ways, including; designing systems, analysing business processes, designing business classification schemes, undertaking records surveys, establishing retention schedules, designing and running record centres and devising business continuity policies. They are dynamic professionals, interacting with senior managers in their organisations to improve efficiency and to help ensure the preservation of the archives of the future.

The Skills

Records managers need to be:

  • confident communicators: records managers deal with colleagues from all backgrounds, from the Managing Director/Chief Executive down. They also have to contact suppliers, contractors and outside organisations
  • good negotiators: it is not always easy to persuade senior colleagues to hand over 'their' records, or to agree to a retention period/destruction date for a record they wish to preserve forever
  • analytical thinkers: records managers need to understand how their organisation works to be capable of constructing systems that are integrated with business processes and organisational culture
  • flexible: records managers are often expected to turn their hand to anything remotely connected with the provision of information
  • comfortable with new technology: you will need to demonstrate the ability to use and adapt to rapidly evolving ICT (Information Communication Technology) packages and systems

The Qualifications

Many people come into records management from disciplines such as scientific research, financial and retail management and the civil service. Many people also enter records management from an archives background, as members of both professions have a shared interest in the value of information and its uses.

Normally a degree (subject not strictly relevant) and post-graduate qualification are required for professional posts. Distance learning courses in records management are available at the following universities.

Full-time and part-time postgraduate programmes in records and archives management, accredited by the Archives and Records Association, are available at;

All the above universities and courses have been accredited by the Archives and Records Association's Qualifications Accreditation Team against set criteria. These can be viewed via the following link pdf Accreditation of Post-Graduate Qualification Criteria

Please note: the new course offered by Plymouth University is not currently accredited by the Archives and Records Association.

Additional course information for employers

The following courses are now closed or suspended. Graduates of these courses should be viewed as having an ARA accredited qualification.

Bangor University Masters in Archive Administration 1985 to 2002

Northumbria University MSc in Information and Records Management 1999 to 2018

Maynooth University Masters in Historical Archives 2015 to 2020 currently suspended.

Society of Archivists Diploma in Archive Administration closed in 2005

University College Dublin prior to 2006 the only available accredited course was a Diploma. The course was upgraded to a Masters in 2006.

The Market

As a records manager you could find yourself working in education, a multinational organisation, a museum or gallery, a charitable organisation or in a Local or Central Government. The Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts, have created substantial demand from employers for qualified records managers.

Most records management jobs are advertised through ARC Recruitment. This ARA publication is sent to all members and becomes available later to non-members through the Association's website. Jobs are also advertised occasionally in the national and local press, and and on the archives-nra and records-management-uk email discussion lists and through the Records Management Society recruitment publication. 

Continued Career Development

Once qualified, records managers are encouraged to undertake the Archives and Records Association's Professional Development Programme, which demonstrates a commitment to continuing professional development and improves career prospects.

Salary recommendation

See ARA's salary recommendations here.