Interested in a Professional Genealogy Career?

Are you considering a career in genealogy? If you have been doing genealogy for a while, you might have thought about it. It is an excellent and rewarding career for those who have a true passion for it.

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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. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to make a career in the genealogical field. It is also an extremely rewarding career for those who have a true passion for it. If this is you, then read on for some tips on how to make a career as a professional genealogist.

You will need both genealogical skills and business skills to make a successful career for yourself as a genealogist. You’ve probably got the genealogical skills down. If you don’t, you know what skills in the field you need to work on before hanging out the sign to your shop. Also be aware that things change in the genealogical world as new technologies arise, so you will need to be willing to keep up with your genealogical education.

You can simply offer to trace your clients’ family trees. You can also decide to specialize. Your specialization could be something like only doing American genealogy (or American south, American north, the American west, the colonial American period, etc), European genealogy, preparing papers for people to join lineage societies, searching for lost heirs to estates, and DNA (aka “genetic”) genealogy.

As for business skills, you need to have at least some basic ones. As your business becomes more successful, you can outsource the business tasks you don’t enjoy or don’t feel comfortably skilled at doing. As you get your business going, you need to know how to do some basic accounting and marketing. One will keep your business finances in order, and one will attract new clients to you. Time management and customer service are also things that you should have at least some basic competency in doing.

A license or accreditation is not necessary to be a professional genealogist. Anyone with genealogical knowledge can begin a genealogy business. However, you will discover that it is easier for you to attract new clients to you if you have some kind of credentials to put behind your name on your business cards and website. The accreditation shows that you know what you are doing, and will do a professional job of high quality for your clients. 

The best place to go to get accredited as a professional genealogist is the Board of Certification for Genealogists (BCG). They offer six different areas for certification, so you can choose the one that is best for you.

Once you have decided on whether or not to become accredited or certified as a genealogist, make sure that you look into the local and national genealogical conferences and workshops. Choose at least two or three to attend each year. Not only will you learn new things about your chosen field and discover new resources, but you will also have the opportunity to network with other professional genealogists. These are valuable connections, because they may refer clients to you who need someone in your genealogical specialty. Conferences are an excellent investment in a prosperous genealogy career.