Picking a Professional Genealogist, Redux

The Association of Professional Genealogists is composed of members who choose to be called professional. Does that, in fact, make them “professionally designated”? No. That makes them self- designated professionals. The APG does not screen for anything other than paid membership and signature on a piece of paper.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists does not “professionally designate” it’s members. The people who go through the certification process choose to be professionals, or not; their own designation, not the Board’s. Many of the members of the BCG have chosen to test their skills against the Board’s requirements so they can demonstrate to others that they are qualified to do other highly specialized work, but, they are not practicing professionally as genealogists. That makes them self-designated non-professionals, doesn’t it?

The International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists does not “professionally designate” a member of their group. The members choose to be called professionals on their own. The members who practice professionally, again, are self-designated, like they are with the APG and BCG.

One of my favorite librarians is a member of these organizations. She is not a practicing professional genealogist. She got these postnomials to prove to herself and others that she knows the subject. Is she a non-”professionally designated genealogist”? She is one of the best I have ever met, but she doesn’t take clients. That’s her choice, not the APG’s, the BCG’s, or the ICAPGEN’s.

Taking the following quote and facts from the LDS church’s own standards:

 “Years of education, research experience, and satisfactory service to clients may be just as important as credentials.”


Professional genealogists include those who are experienced researchers having:

  • some unique research specialty
  • credentials that show advanced skills
  • years of education and professional development
  • access to facilities with many records

Where is it necessary to have a specific degree here? Nowhere. Where is it necessary to have a specific postnomial here? Nowhere. Where do “professionally designated” genealogists fit in this picture? It does not matter. Period. If you do the job well, the client is happy, and all parties involved are satisfied, great. That’s the point of doing business, satisfying the customer.

Put simply, the customer’s satisfaction is all that matters in business. Will you chose the appropriate genealogist to work with? A genealogist, self-designated as professional or not, who has years of experience and satisfactory service?

I am not a member of any of the groups mentioned, yet I adhere to the ethics and sound business practices advocated by the APG and BCG. They are worthwhile organizations to recognize and follow because they have strong ethical standards for all genealogists to adhere to.

Thank you for reading.

© 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Is it a Look-up or a Research Request?

Look-up: a procedure involving a specific obituary, book page or chapter, or other document that can be handled in a short time

Research Request: asking that someone analyze, survey, organize, or otherwise work with genealogical materials

The difference is the amount of time and skill involved. An obituary doesn’t need to be analyzed to compare the deceased to his or her great-grandmother. A land record, however, doesn’t necessarily involve family relations, but does need analysis with other documents to establish relationships.

Look-ups can be, and usually are, handled by volunteers or library and archives employees who work with the records as part of the jobs. Research requests, because of the time involved are generally best handled by skilled or professional genealogists who make the time for such work.

Some genealogists like to post look-up requests on boards like Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness or FindaGrave. A few of these requests are asking for more information than what the volunteers are willing to find or capable of providing. Sites where genealogy researchers can find others more willing and able to do the in-depth research are eXpertGenealogy, GenealogyFreelancers, and GenLighten.

The level of skills presented by the researchers who list their services on these sites varies, as does their areas of expertise. Many professional genealogists give satisfactory service and their skills match those of certified genealogy researchers. A middle-ground of professionals who may or may not be certified, but are a group, can be found at the Association of Professional Genealogists’ site. Certified researchers who maintain listings can be found on Board for Certification of Genealogists’ site and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists’ site.

Disclaimer: I maintain professional listings on eXpertGenealogy, GenealogyFreelancers, and GenLighten.