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How to Become a Genealogist: Professional Career Guidance

Thinking of becoming a professional genealogist?

Maybe you’ve been researching your own family for years, and find it very fulfilling. You’re thinking you’d like to dive into research for others.

It’s undoubtedly a very rewarding field. There’s nothing like discovering something new and exciting about your own family history. And it’s also exciting if you can help other people discover their history.

Photo: lineage of a family, c. 1809
Photo: lineage of a family, c. 1809. Credit: Rodolph; Wikimedia Commons.

On the other hand, it can be hard to get started without the right information. Luckily, we’re here to answer your most significant “how to become a genealogist” questions and get you moving forward on the right path.

Skills to Become a Genealogist

If you’re considering working as a professional genealogist, here are some of the skills you need to develop.

Genealogical Skills

If you’re wondering how to become a professional genealogist, assessing your skills is the first step. These are the primary skills that you will need throughout your genealogy career:

  • Excellent research skills and the ability to work with historical records are vital. You should also consider having a genealogical specialty, such as publishing family histories or using military records.
  • You must also evaluate your capacity for future learning that will allow you to develop your genealogical expertise. This can include anything from taking a genealogy certification class online to attending conferences.

Business Skills

Apart from genealogical skills, you also need to have sound business skills. Remember, you are providing a service as a professional genealogist, so you need to handle the business side of it as well.

  • This includes everything a business might need, from accounting to marketing. You also need to learn time management and customer service. It might not be the most exciting part of how to become an accredited genealogist, but it’s a critical necessity.

Necessary Knowledge for Becoming a Genealogist

  • Certifications and Accreditations

When people are trying to figure out how to become a licensed genealogist in the fastest way possible, the answer is always to get certified. Not only is it proof of your genealogical skills that you can show to potential clients, but it’s also a measure of your current skills, so you’ll know where to improve.

The recommended certifications you’ll want to get are offered by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). There are six different categories you can apply for, each for a specific area of genealogical expertise.

  • Educational Books and Seminars

Expanding any skill is a lifelong process, and it’s no different with genealogy. One of the best tips for how to become a certified genealogist is to never stop learning.

You’ll need to keep up with new knowledge by reading a lot of journals, magazines, and case studies on the topic. Scour genealogical books as well.

It’s also worthwhile to attend seminars and workshops. There, you can learn directly from experts in your field. Both the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society hold annual nationwide conferences.

  • Networking and Community

When people are looking for resources on how to become a genealogist, one of the things they overlook is the genealogical community. Tapping into the collective wisdom of these groups is a fantastic way to fast track your development as a genealogist. It’s something that you’ll be hard-pressed to do on your own.

Be sure to get in touch with genealogists in your area. The best way to do this is to join genealogical societies in your locality. Better yet, you can volunteer some of your free time to help them out. Doing so allows you to mingle and interact with their genealogists and to pick up wisdom along the way.

Don’t limit your networking to genealogists, though. You shouldn’t forget the other vital players when working in genealogy, such as archivists and librarians. Both can offer a wealth of insight when it comes to research.

Are You Ready to Become a Genealogist?

If you’ve been thinking about how to become a professional genealogist online, then you most likely have a passion for it. Maybe you’ve been researching your family history, and you find it exciting. After all, it’s always amazing to discover something about your ancestors and how they lived.

Maybe you’re passionate enough that you want to help others discover their family history. Or maybe you want to explore other related careers like being a librarian, archivist, or consultant.

Whatever your purpose is, be sure you’re ready for it. Genealogy can be a rewarding but demanding field that requires skills in multiple disciplines like business, writing, and communication. It’s a lifelong pursuit that will require never-ending learning and practice.

Get the Tools You Need with GenealogyBank

One of the best assets for a professional genealogist is quick and easy access to a wealth of historical information. Here at GenealogyBank, that’s what we do. We are one of the world’s premier repositories for historical data on obituaries, newspaper archives, and U.S. census records.

Sign up today for a free 7-day unlimited access.