I Want to Work as a Professional Genealogist ... Now What?
Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA
Because we work full-time as professional genealogists, this question is one we receive from time to time, so I have put together some suggestions about where you can read more on the web, about this fascinating and important work.
I first advise that you read two articles on our website (if you have not already) that deal with the work of professional genealogists. They are When, Why and How to Hire a Professional Genealogist and The Reality Gap. These articles explore the nature of the relationship between professional researchers and their clients.
In terms of getting to know the professional genealogist field, you will want to thoroughly explore the below three websites. The first is a professional organization and the next two are credentialing boards.
- Association of Professional Genealogists
- International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists
- Board for Certification of Genealogists
Then you might be interested in the following articles I have found on various web sites.
- Becoming a Professional Genealogist
- Ten Ways to Make Money Doing Genealogy
- How to Become a Professional Genealogist, Kathy Hinckley
- Have Checkbook — Am A Professional, Elizabeth Shown Mills and Kay Ingalls
- Skillbuilding: Preparing Research Reports, (Accurately and Clearly), Rhonda S. Norris
- Some Steps for Getting Started on the Road to Becoming a Professional Genealogist
- How to Become A Professional Genealogist, Kimberly Powell
- Going Pro!, George G. Morgan
When you are ready for some serious learning, there are many distance learning courses available from Brigham Young University, the world leader in genealogy training. They offer a degree in Family History, and many courses are available through their Independent Studies program. Go to BYU's website and select the subject: History. The 400 level classes are primarily the ones you will be interested in for family history.
There are a growing number of careers in genealogy. Most fall into two groups: working on the staff of a repository with genealogical records (an archive or library mostly) or working as a professional researcher (usually self-employed, but there are a few research companies, such as ours, with employees). A few Internet companies (MyFamily.com) employ genealogists as well. Currently, a well trained and experienced genealogist with a bachelor's degree and a testing credential could probably start in the neighborhood of $30,000 per year. As you know, almost all jobs in the "humanities" are underpaid. However, as a genealogist gets experience, credentials, and a reputation, that wage could double.
As a company, we are always on the lookout for competent local researchers who can access records where they live. If you fit this description, we invite you to register their interest in working as a research agent with us on our website.
Best of luck and success as you consider this field. While the work may be difficult, it is very rewarding to help families learn more about themselves.