How To Become a Genealogist in 8 Steps

How to become a genealogist
  1. Establish goals. …
  2. Consider a degree program or self-education. …
  3. Start personal projects. …
  4. Develop business skills. …
  5. Practice your writing skills. …
  6. Volunteer for genealogical work. …
  7. Join the Association of Professional Genealogists. …
  8. Apply for certification.

How to Become a Professional Genealogist (VLOG #40)

What does a genealogist do?

A genealogist usually works with individual clients to evaluate their ancestry. Genealogists may discover a clients ancestry through various means, including:

Professional genealogists work with clients to both understand and make connections among ancestral data. Genealogists may aim to compile this data into a sharable format that clients can give to their immediate or extended family members.

What is a genealogist?

A genealogist is a professional who studies family ancestry. They gather information from genetic tests, historical documents and witness accounts. Genealogists may teach the importance of ancestry through written work or lectures concerning their discoveries. They may also work as archivists, historians or private business owners.

Skills for a genealogist

Genealogists may use a variety of skills to work with clients and historical data, including:

How to become a genealogist

If youre interested in becoming a genealogist, consider some of the following steps:

1. Establish goals

Before becoming a genealogist, consider determining what genealogy specialization you want to study. Genetic studies allow genealogists to make DNA comparisons by researching DNA structure and analysis. Historical studies give genealogists the opportunity to expand their historical knowledge, creating alternative employment opportunities. Additionally, not all professional genealogists work full time with clients. Some genealogists may focus on becoming teachers, novelists, social workers or investigators.

2. Consider a degree program or self-education

While genealogy requires no formal education, some colleges offer bachelors degrees in genealogy. Genealogy programs can teach you how to analyze data, compile genealogies and effectively research resources. Attending seminars and workshops can also help you learn new analysis methods and how to prepare yourself for full-time genealogy work. Consider reading material such as genealogical journals, magazines and books to help further your education.

3. Start personal projects

Developing your own genealogy project may help improve your skills. If you decide to work with clients in the future, researching personal projects can help create a professional business portfolio. Consider researching and completing a wide variety of genealogical projects, as doing so may help you understand which areas of genealogy youre interested in the most.

4. Develop business skills

If youre interested in becoming a self-employed genealogist, consider developing your business skills. Taking college courses in finance and marketing can help you understand economic principles and advertising. If youre pursuing a bachelors degree in genealogy, consider taking a minor in business to help you prepare to work with clients in the future.

5. Practice your writing skills

Since genealogists write reports to document their findings, consider practicing your grammar and writing skills before you begin genealogical work. If youre earning a genealogist degree, elective writing courses can help improve your skills. If youre not pursuing a degree, consider taking a short writing class online or through a workshop.

6. Volunteer for genealogical work

Consider starting volunteer work with a local genealogical group. Collaborating with others on projects can help you network with other genealogists and develop your skills. Volunteer work such as transcribing a project or indexing data can also help diversify your knowledge.

7. Join the Association of Professional Genealogists

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) is a genealogist organization that internationally supports high genealogical research standards. The APG observes a code of ethics that provides a basis for professional genealogy. Joining the APG can help you network and find learning opportunities. Additionally, members have access to a quarterly journal with articles concerning topics like client work, certifications and home office systems.

8. Apply for certification

Getting a certification can help you develop professional genealogical skills. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) offers research and teaching certifications for professional genealogists. In order to become certified, the board requires a work portfolio with your certification application. Becoming certified can provide teaching opportunities or help self-employment efforts such as finding client work.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


What kind of degree do you need to be a genealogist?

To become a genealogist there are no educational requirements. The best way to learn is to attend work-shops, online courses, and conferences. Also joining genealogical societies and communities is recommended.

How much money does a genealogist make?

According to salary survey data compiled by the Economic Research Institute (ERI), hourly fees for genealogists in the United States average $34 per hour, as of June 2020. Full-time genealogists annually earn $71,428 on average. Reported annual genealogist salaries ranged from $51,374 to $87,998.

Is genealogy a good career?

It is an excellent and rewarding career for those who have a true passion for it. While plenty of genealogists are content to keep their research work to their own family lines, there are some who become good enough at it (and enjoy it enough) that they decide they may want to make a business out of it.

Is there a certification for genealogists?

Certification. The Board for Certification of Genealogists ® (BCG), based in the Washington, D.C., area bestows Certified Genealogist credentials on associates who meet its qualifications.

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