professional genealogistHow to ask the right questions that lead you to the right professional genealogist for you.

Have you hit the proverbial brick wall in your family tree research? Has your local library or genealogy society run out of clues for you to try? Have all the films you ordered at your Family History Center from the Family History Library been searched, and you still have no answer to your genealogy puzzle?

Time and time again people reach this roadblock in their research and decide to hire a Professional Genealogist or a professional genealogy research services company. How do you choose the right one for your project? Most people look to the world-wide-web for the solution. A quick search on the Internet shows that there are thousands of people who want you to choose them to trace your ancestry and dig for your roots. How can you know which one is the best one for you? To be successful and a smart consumer, you must first answer these questions:

Who is qualified? What makes someone a qualified professional? Should I choose a professional who has “earned” the designation of professional genealogist or someone who has “self- appointed” themselves as a professional researcher? Do I want a full-service professional genealogy research services firm or a sole practitioner? Is my accurate, authentic, true family tree found on the Internet or in a book, or listed in a database? How much can be discovered about my family tree? Is the work guaranteed? How long will it take to do? How much does it cost? Is the research completed in incremental blocks of time of separately reported research projects or on a retainer basis? Will I receive a report of the professional genealogy research findings at the end of each job with an easy to understand narrative, abstracts, summary, and recommendations for future research along with applicable family group sheets, pedigree charts and gedcom? Is the research documented and are copies provided of all the evidence with citations and sourcing? Can I have a “Certified Family Tree©”? What do you do to ensure my Consumer Rights to safety, to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, and the right to service? What do I do if there is a problem?

Professional Genealogy Research Services is a very new industry and is unregulated. You can and should get answers to all of your questions. To help you choose the qualified practitioner, when you are ready to hire someone off the Internet to climb your family tree professionally, use these “12 Hallmarks of a Real Professional Genealogist:

1. Bachelor’s Degree in Genealogy – check out school’s accreditation
2. Professional Genealogy Training – Internship prior to graduation
3. Full-time years of Experience in Client Research – how many years.
4. Career is Professional Genealogy Research – how many years in commercial business research services for client family tree discovery and documentation
5. Professional Genealogy Credentials – CG (Certified Genealogist – ), AG (Accredited Genealogist – ) – for Standards of Performance, Ethical Codes of Conduct, continuing education. requirements for re-certification and re-accreditation, and arbitration of problems.
6. Business License as per state and local requirements
7. Business owner or sub-contractor
8. Continuing Education – how do they keep abreast in this industry?
9. Member of APG (Association of Professional Genealogists – ) – Ethical Codes of Conduct and for arbitration of problems.
10. Better Business Bureau – Accredited Business ( ) – Consumer Rights issues and arbitration of consumer problems.
11. Chamber of Commerce Member
12. Contact Information and Access – Website, e-mail, toll free phone, mail address, professional membership – accountability and responsibility for project.

James W. Petty, AG, CG, is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally, since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (, the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

For Heirlines-Quality professional genealogy services, resources, and products including expert family tree research, LDS family history assistance, and answers to genealogy questions, please see Heirlines website, and blog For more genealogy and family history help and advice, please follow James W Petty, AG, CG and Heirlines Family History & Genealogy on Social Media: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.

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