Records managers are responsible for the effective and appropriate management of an organisation's records from their creation, right through to their eventual disposal

As a records manager you'll provide access to accurate records for a range of operational and strategic purposes, and will ensure that legal obligations for the creation and retention of records are met. This includes controlling the number of records created and stored, and identifying which records are to be preserved for historical and research purposes and which should be destroyed.

Records management is often closely related to knowledge and information management, as well as information compliance (data protection and freedom of information). Some jobs will be an amalgamation of these roles.

Records are kept in both physical and digital/electronic formats, ranging from books, journals, newspapers and CDs/DVDs to online content, eBooks and video files.


As a records manager, you'll need to:

  • oversee the management of digital and/or paper-based records
  • identify the most appropriate records management resources
  • design and develop filing systems and business classification schemes, and undertake records surveys
  • set up and review documenting records and classifications systems
  • establish retention and disposal schedules
  • liaise with archivists to identify and transfer records to the archive
  • advise on new records management policies, providing a framework to guide your staff in the management of their records and use of the employer's records system
  • standardise information sources throughout an organisation or group of organisations
  • manage the changeover from paper to electronic records management systems
  • respond to information enquiries, giving appropriate access to information within required timescales
  • liaise with information governance teams to ensure the correct handling, safeguarding and delivery of information
  • ensure compliance with relevant legislation, regulations and policies
  • advise on complex legal and regulatory issues, often involving judgements in areas such as the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other national or regional legislation
  • preserve corporate memory and heritage
  • manage budgets and resources
  • train and supervise records staff.


  • The Archives and Records Association (ARA) recommends that the minimum starting salary for records managers working in a support role (paraprofessional) is £23,392.
  • ARA recommends a minimum salary of £30,233 to £35,832 for records managers with experience who have responsibility for a discrete area of work.
  • Salaries for middle management records managers should start at £44,791. For senior management, salaries should start at £61,589. Senior managers are expected to have a strategic role and may have qualified as a Fellow of the ARA.

Salaries vary depending on a range of factors, including the sector you work in, your location, level of experience and your professional qualifications.

Salaries with local authorities, central government, the NHS and universities usually follow a pay scale.

Salary figures from the ARA's Salary Recommendations. Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with the potential for some extra hours depending on your workload.

Freelance and consultancy work is possible for experienced records managers, particularly for short-term projects.

Part-time, temporary/fixed-term and hybrid work patterns may be available.

What to expect

  • Records management may form the whole or only part of your job along with other information-related activities, such as knowledge and information management, data protection, freedom of information and information governance.
  • The work is mostly office-based and, depending on the role, you may have regular contact with other staff or do mostly solitary, computer-based work. With the increased use of electronic document and record management systems (EDRMS), you're likely to be involved in a lot of IT-based work.
  • Most opportunities exist in large towns and cities.
  • Records management is often project-based and involves working to specific deadlines.
  • There are some opportunities for senior professionals to become self-employed, working for several clients, or to join a large management consultancy or specialist agency.


You'll usually need a first degree followed by a postgraduate qualification accredited by the ARA.

The subject of your first degree isn't particularly relevant, and records managers come from a range of backgrounds, including archives management, financial and retail management, scientific research and the civil service.

Competition for places on a postgraduate course is fierce and you'll normally need a good honours degree and some work experience (either paid or voluntary). Courses are available at PGCert, PGDip and Masters level.

Most courses are combined archives and records management programmes. Part-time and distance learning options are available at some institutions. Visit the ARA website for a list of ARA-accredited courses.

There is a new Level 7 Archivist and Records Manager apprenticeship available, which provides an alternative entry route into the profession. Apprenticeships combine paid work, training on the job and a qualification.

You can apply for a position at records assistant (paraprofessional) level without a postgraduate qualification. Posts are available in most records management services, and it may be possible to complete further study in-service or after a period of employment.

Archive and information apprenticeships such as the Level 3 Library, Information and Archive Services (LIAS) Assistant and Level 4 Data Protection and Information Governance apprenticeships offer another way into archive work. Find an apprenticeship


You'll need to have:

  • written and verbal communication skills to deal with senior colleagues, suppliers and contractors
  • teamworking skills and the ability to form strong relationships with colleagues across different departments such as archives, IT services and data protection/governance
  • the ability to work independently and manage your own workload
  • negotiation skills to persuade senior colleagues to follow agreed record storing guidelines
  • problem-solving and analytical skills to develop an understanding of how your organisation works and build integrated records systems
  • project management, administration and organisational skills
  • a good grasp of new and emerging technology, IT packages and systems
  • an awareness of information management principles and familiarity with information systems and archives
  • attention to detail
  • flexibility to get involved in all aspects of information provision.

It's also important to have up-to-date knowledge of data protection and freedom of information legislation.

Work experience

You need to have good quality voluntary or paid work experience in a records management environment to get a place on a postgraduate course.

ARA has details of current placement opportunities (both paid and voluntary) across the UK and Ireland. These are suitable for those seeking work experience prior to undertaking a postgraduate course. There are also opportunities to volunteer with ARA.

Assistant records management positions are advertised in the local and national press and on the Records-Management-UK List.

You can also approach organisations close to where you live for voluntary opportunities. Many of the archives services listed on The National Archives - Find an archive will have a records management section that you can contact. In general, larger local government and university records management departments are more likely to have opportunities.

Student membership of a relevant professional body such as the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) or ARA is useful. Make contacts wherever you can and develop your network within the sector.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


You're likely to work in a large company or organisation that needs support with the management of their range of records and records systems. Typical employers include:

  • central and local government
  • public institutions such as the BBC, The National Archives, National Records of Scotland, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and The British Library
  • academic institutions
  • the banking and financial sector
  • the retail sector
  • legal firms
  • hospitals and health bodies
  • pharmaceutical sector
  • utility and power companies
  • building and construction sector
  • the corporate sector, including multinational companies in major industries
  • museums and galleries
  • charitable organisations.

Although there's competition for jobs, The Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have created more demand for qualified records managers.

Look for job vacancies at:

Vacancies are also advertised on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and in the local and national press.

Professional development

Once qualified, you're encouraged to continue your professional development in order to develop your skills, build up your professional knowledge and establish a network of contacts.

Your employer will usually provide training on in-house systems and procedures. They may also pay for external training and distance learning courses, including postgraduate professional qualifications, if you don't already have one. Training in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, mentoring and specific CPD schemes is provided through organisations such as:

Members of IRMS with five years' experience in the profession, or three years and a recognised professional qualification, can apply for IRMS Accreditation. This entitles you to use the post-nominal letters AMIRMS. To apply, you'll need to submit either a written application or a shorter summary application and an oral interview. Once you have a minimum of ten years' experience, you're eligible to apply for Fellowship (FIRMS).

You can also get professional registration with the ARA. There are three levels of registration:

  • Foundation (FMARA) - for those at the start or early stages of their career
  • Registered (RMARA) - for those at the early to mid-point in their careers
  • Fellow (FARA) - the highest-level award for significant professional experience.

To qualify, you need to enrol on the ARA Professional Development Programme. The programme is based around a framework of competencies, and to qualify you'll need to submit a portfolio of evidence showing how you meet the qualification criteria for the level of membership you are applying for. Once qualified, you will need to continue your professional development.

Career prospects

You may start as a records management assistant before moving into a records management role. In larger organisations, such as government or universities, there may be a team of records management staff and a career structure in place, for example, records manager, senior records manager and head of records (or information and records) management. In more senior positions, you're likely to lead a team of records management staff, develop strategy and coordinate policy developments.

In smaller organisations, however, records management teams are often small, and records manager may be the most senior position. You may need to move jobs or relocate if you're looking for promotion. Progress will often depend on developing your own route based on your interests and experience.

IRMS Accreditation and professional registration with ARA can help progress your career. It shows that your skills, experience and knowledge are at a particular standard and that you're committed to the profession.

As your career grows, you may develop a specialist interest or broaden your skills and expand your career across archiving and archive conservation. Other related areas of work include genealogy and historical research.

There are also some opportunities for consultancy work (usually senior professionals) and to work on a freelance basis with organisations that require short-term support in records management.

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