Becoming a Certified Archivist

acalogoThe Academy of Certified Archivists, founded in 1989 at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, is an independent, nonprofit certifying organization of professional archivists. Individual members qualify for certification by meeting a series of defined professional standards in seven domains:

  1. Selection, Appraisal and Acquisition
  2. Arrangement and Description
  3. Reference Services and Access
  4. Preservation and Protection
  5. Outreach, Advocacy, and Promotion
  6. Managing Archival Programs
  7. Professional, Ethical, and Legal Responsibilities

In the Handbook for Archival Certification, the potential applicant can review information about ACA, how to qualify for the exam, and be able to review all of the selected readings for each of the domains. If you are new to the archives profession (or your position in general), this is a great starting list for your education. Some of the classic books are now free on the SAA website and others are available through the SAA Bookstore.

Becoming a Certified Archivist in 2005, I have to say that the certification has helped me not only professionally, but personally as well. Professionally, it indicates to others that I have a certain level of knowledge in the archives field. Personally, it has helped me to keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the archives community by encouraging me to read current research and to further my education through workshops and webinars. Every five years, a member has to renew his or her certification, and that can be either by petition or by taking the exam again. You can earn points for recertification by taking classes, writing articles/books, and staying professionally active.

I became more involved with the Academy by volunteering on a Petition Review Team.  It was a great way to get to know other archivists from all over the United States, and I have been able to meet some of them in person. After a couple of years I was asked to become a Petition Review Team Leader. This meant that as the petitions came in, I would distribute them to my team for review. We would then report the findings to the Regent for Certification Maintenance, who would then notify the petitioner. I am very honored now to be the new Regent for Certification Maintenance, and hope that I can perform the job as well as Kristy Sorensen (Associate Director of the Library and Head of Archives and Records Management at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary).

I would be happy to speak with anyone about ACA and about becoming certified. I’m enjoying every minute of it.


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