Six Steps to ARA Professional Status

There are six steps to ARA professional status and the career benefits that will follow.

Steps issue 2

Step 1 – Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is all about seeing where you are today; reviewing the skills, experience and attributes that you already have and understanding where that puts you in terms of the membership level you may already qualify for, as well as the level you aspire to.

The self-assessment process is as follows:

  • Download the competency framework summary and the three competency framework areas summary here: https://archivesandrecords.smapply.io/
  • Tick all of the competencies you think apply to you
  • Review the five levels of experience and select the appropriate level alongside your checked competency list
  • Align your completed self-assessment with the submission criteria of the membership levels to understand which level you may already qualify for and identify the additional competencies and work required to reach the next level

Step 2 – Find a Mentor

You will need and appreciate some help in moving through the programme towards assessment and qualification. A mentor is someone with more experience and knowledge than yourself who will help give you direction with your learning, get the most out of it and help you achieve your chosen membership qualification.

It is important that you try to identify your own mentor but if you need support please do ask us for our list of mentors when you have enrolled on the programme.

With your mentor you should agree how you are going to work together, share your latest CV and completed self-assessment and document key milestones. If there are other colleagues, professionals or networks known to you, we would encourage you to reach out to them for additional guidance and support.

Step 3 – Enrol onto the programme

The next step is to enrol on the programme. This can be done via the Professional Development Programme website at https://archivesandrecords.smapply.io

After setting up your profile, complete the enrolment form and pay the fee to enrol. You can now get started on your competency portfolio by following the Foundation, Registered or Fellowship qualification options.

Please note that when going through the CPD Review process you do not need to enrol on the programme.

You will be asked to provide your name, ARA membership number and contact details for your employer and your mentor. You will also be asked to invite your mentor to register with the website if they haven’t already done so. Your mentor will then be able to access your portfolio and support your development.

If you are not yet an ARA member then please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or join now as an Individual Member https://www.archives.org.uk/membership-application

Step 4 – Preparing for Assessment

Develop your application online by working with your mentor and following the advice contained in the programme guide.

Your application will need to meet the qualification criteria for the level of membership you are applying for and success will depend on the strength of the evidence presented in it. The criteria are described in the programme guide.

Up to 10 years’ relevant work experience can be included in your application. This should evidence how you meet the required levels in your chosen competencies. Your mentor will be a great help as they will be able to give you a much-needed objective opinion.

You will also need a reference from your mentor and they will need to provide it in line with the Guidance for Mentors found on the programme website: https://archivesandrecords.smapply.io.

Step 5 – Completing Assessment and Qualification

Once your application is complete you will be asked to pay the assessment fee and submit your application via the programme website. You may download a copy of your application for future reference.

Your portfolio will be assessed by two experienced Registered or Fellow Members of the ARA and the assessment will take around three months to complete. If successful, you will be rewarded with the level of membership and professional qualification that you applied for and notified via the programme website.

Your success will be published by the ARA and you will receive a certificate confirming your new qualified status.

Step 6 – Maintaining your membership and qualification level

Once qualified with the ARA you will need to maintain and develop your knowledge and competency. Professional development is an ongoing process and as such it is important to retain and continue to build on your skills and expertise.

The ARA provides opportunities to support members with their CPD, including news and insights from ARC magazine, the ARA annual conference and events organised by ARA Nations, Regions and Sections.

Once qualified, a CPD Review process takes place every five years following qualification to support you with your ongoing professional development.

For the CPD Review members are asked to submit:

  • A current CV
  • Four CPD Review forms: Each form should identify one development objective (aligned to the new competency framework as outlined on the programme website: https://archivesandrecords.smapply.io identified as requiring maintenance or development, and how you have achieved that objective over the last five years. (Max 750 words per form)
  • A personal development statement providing a (maximum) 500-word overview of the most recent five years of CPD activity

If you have any questions about the programme, please take a look at our FAQs page.