Records Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Records managers look after information and records. They advise organisations on what needs to be stored, and develop effective systems to save and retrieve information. Records can be paper based, such as letters and reports, or electronic, such as emails.

Individual jobs vary, but records managers may:

  • Ensure that the storage of information and records meets necessary legal requirements.
  • Improve operational efficiency by streamlining the volume of records created and stored.
  • Introduce more efficient ways for people to access information, such as intranet's, databases or more user-friendly search engines.
  • Create schedules for storage and disposal of records.
  • Liaise with other senior managers to ensure that systems and processes meet the needs of the organisation and are being followed by all staff.
  • Manage teams and budgets and train and appraise staff.

The massive growth in electronic storage has had major implications for records managers. They are consequently often involved in designing and customising information systems.

Records managers liaise with other senior managers. They must have an understanding of the law relating to information storage and convert this into standards and controls that colleagues can understand and work with. Some may answer questions directly from the public.

Managers in large records offices supervise a team of records assistants/technicians who carry out administrative support, such as filing and data processing.

Working hours are usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. More flexible working may sometimes be necessary. Part-time work is possible.

Records managers spend a lot of their time in an office, working at a computer or in meetings dealing with enquiries and analysing information. Some may need to travel to different sites for meetings, presentations and to provide training sessions, so a driving licence can be useful.

Overseas travel may be required if working for an international organisation.

Newly qualified records managers can earn around £23,000 a year. Experienced managers may earn between £26,680 and £40,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

A wide variety of public and private organisations employ records managers throughout the UK. They include:

  • Local authorities and central government.
  • Organisations such as the BBC, The National Archives, the Patent Office and the British Library.
  • Large private companies, e.g. in insurance, accountancy, banking and law.
  • Educational establishments.
  • Museums and galleries.
  • Charitable organisations.

Some experienced records managers are self-employed. They offer a consultancy service to organisations.

The number of people employed as records managers has increased and there is a strong demand for their services. There has been particular growth in the public sector. This is due largely to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which regulates access to information held by public authorities.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers and in the Society of Archivists' fortnightly job sheet ARC Recruitment. They are also advertised on the website's of professional bodies such as the Records Management Society (RMS), the Society of Archivists and The Association for Information Management (Aslib). In addition, there are specialist recruitment agencies that advertise vacancies on their website's.

Education and Training

Most entrants to professional records management posts study for an honours degree, followed by a postgraduate qualification in either records management or in archives and records management approved by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Minimum entry requirements for honours degree courses are usually at least two A levels plus five GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications.

Several universities offer postgraduate courses in records management and in archives and records management. Courses can be full time, part time and by distance learning. Full-time courses usually last one year, part-time courses between two and four years, and distance learning usually takes between two and five years.

Entry to a relevant postgraduate course usually requires at least a second class honours degree, the subject of which is not usually specified and relevant work experience. The website of the Society of Archivists lists a number of organisations that are willing to provide work experience. Some graduates enter this career and study part time or by distance learning for a postgraduate qualification.

Many entrants have had previous experience in such areas as scientific research, financial and retail management, the civil service, IT, compliance and project management.

Some students may be accepted on to a degree course without the usual entry requirements. They can prepare for application to a degree course by taking an Access course at a local college. Courses usually last one year full time, or one to two years part time.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Records managers need to maintain their skills and keep up to date with new developments. To help with this they may attend workshops arranged by professional bodies.

Those who are members of the Society of Archivists are encouraged to undertake the Registration Scheme, which includes continuing professional development (CPD).

The RMS is developing an accreditation scheme specifically for records managers.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A records manager should:

  • Have strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Be skilled at project management and demonstrate an attention to detail.
  • Be persuasive and have good negotiating skills.
  • Be well organised and able to prioritise workloads.
  • Be good at information retrieval.
  • Have a clear understanding of all aspects of his or her organisation.
  • Have excellent IT skills.
  • Work well in a team.
  • Be clear on legislation that affects the keeping and use of records.
  • Be able to manage budgets and financial forecasts.

Your Long Term Prospects

As records management teams are often small, managers may therefore need to move between employers to progress.

Managers may become consultants and offer organisations short-term support in records management. Self-employment is possible, as is joining a management consultancy or specialist agency.

There may be opportunities to work overseas with multinational companies.

Get Further Information

The Association for Information Management (Aslib),
207 Davina House, 137-149 Goswell Road,
London EC1V 7ET
Tel: 020 7253 3349

The Chartered Institute of Library
and Information Professionals (CILIP),
7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE
Tel: 020 7255 0500

Lifelong Learning UK,
5th Floor, St Andrew's House,
18-20 St Andrew Street, London EC4A 3AY
Information and Advice Service: 020 7936 5798

The National Archives, Kew,
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Tel: 020 8876 3444

Society of Archivists, Prioryfield House,
20 Canon Street, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1SW
Tel: 01823 327030

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