For the integrity of our profession, Professional Genealogy Research Services, and the protection of the consumer, I believe only professionally qualified practitioners should be called “Professional Genealogist”. All professional genealogy titles should be earned and honorary post-nominal should not be listed as qualifiers, even if they are from a genealogy or family history society because they denote service rendered, not a “distinguisher” of professional commercial work ability. The professional should be allowed to list their earned qualifiers including professional genealogy college degrees and professional genealogy certifications such as CG and AG. In order to not confuse the public, no other credential or designation should be used in precedence of the professional post-nominal when the practitioner is providing professional services either for hire or for free.

I believe professionals who have paid the price through education, study, time, effort and experience to earn these professional credentials have the right to use them to distinguish themselves from those self-appointed practitioners who have not gone the professional career route.

The professional genealogy industry is short- changing itself by its lack of exclusive alignment with credentialed professional genealogists. Currently, there are 3 semi-professional organizations in professional genealogy, none exclusive for the professional practitioner. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG), and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). APG is a membership organization with minimal ethical codes of behavior and standards of performance with no internal professional determiners – all members just self designate and pay their dues. ICAPGen and BCG are accrediting and certifying bodies respectively and have no members. They allow anyone to apply for accreditation and certification and have developed their own unique ways to determine whether the applicant is worthy of earning the credential. They are a step in the right direction. I encourage the practicing professionals affiliated with these organizations to move to strict professionals-only associations based on the traditional professional career path that includes professional genealogy formal college degree education, training, experience, credentials, continuing education, ethical codes of behavior, standards of performance, business licensing in the community where they practice, and membership in a professional membership organization nationally and locally where available.

I believe the stature of professional organizations would be enhanced by aligning themselves with professional genealogists who have earned the professional designation. This is fair to the client (accurate disclosure), enhances the stature of the organization and of course helps set the qualified professionally designated apart from the crowd of the self designated. And it sets the standard, the goal if you will, to encourage others to so become so legitimately qualified. It raises the bar in the profession.

If you are interested in this level of professional genealogy research services, contact me at to help with this important professional and consumer issue.

James W. Petty, AG, CGRS
BS (Genealogy), BA (History)
HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy
PO Box 893
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
call toll-free 1 (800) 570-4049
ANCESTORS are the people of history.
Do you know who your ancestors are?
Visit our website today to learn more about
having your family history researched.