Posts tagged Experts in Genealogy


What does it take to become a Professional Genealogist?


We get it. What you’re really asking is, “Why should I hire a professional genealogist when my good friend, or I, can do my own genealogy in my spare time?”

The truth is, it takes a lot more than enthusiasm or even time spent researching your own family history to be able to perform genealogy at the professional level. Here are just a few of the things it takes to become a professional genealogist.

It Takes Formal Training and Years of Experience

The most obvious difference between professional genealogists and amateur enthusiasts is formal training. We don’t mean to discount the efforts of those genealogy genealogistenthusiasts who spend their free time helping themselves and others research their families. But there is a big difference between someone who has taken years of professional classes and someone who (although earnest) hasn’t ever formally studied genealogy.

Our president, James Petty, received degrees in both in Genealogy Technology and History from Brigham Young University. He’s also received recognition or certification from over a dozen different genealogical organizations.

(You can read more about James Petty by clicking here.)

We don’t mention this to brag; we just think it’s a great example of the kind of lifelong, professional dedication it takes to help others with their genealogy in the way Heirlines strives to do.

It Takes a Wide Variety of Skills

genealogistA professional genealogist does a lot more than research his or her own family history. For example, here are some of the genealogical services we offer:

  • Personal family history reviews
  • Professional research analysis
  • Preparing copies of original documents
  • Court certifiable due diligence
  • Expert witness services
  • Evidence of Heir documentation
  • Professional teaching or speaking

That list is by no means comprehensive, but we think you get the point. There’s a lot more to professional genealogy than being really good at family history. It means you’re prepared to meaningfully apply genealogy research and analysis to a very broad set of situations.

It Takes Entrepreneurship

Let’s face it: there aren’t a lot of huge genealogy companies out there. (Heirlines is one of the leaders in the field of professional genealogy, and even our team is far smaller than what one would consider a “large” company.)

That means when you study genealogy, you have two options:
1. Try to find a job with an established genealogy group (or government agency)
2. Create your own genealogy company and help others discover their family histories
As you probably guessed, Heirlines chose the latter.

Managing a business takes a unique set of skills — skills many amateur genealogists simply don’t (and don’t need to) have.

For example, a professional genealogist must have the following business skills:

  • Time management
  • Customer service
  • Financial management
  • Business writing and excellent communication
  • Marketing and sales
  • Project management
  • Contract management

As any successful business owner will tell you, this list is only the start.

It Takes Time

Finally, the one resource the professional genealogists at Heirlines have that enthusiasts often lack is time.

This isn’t just time spent scouring (although, as professionals, we have far more time to dedicate to that than most enthusiasts). It’s also the time we’ve spent helping thousands of our past clients find millions of names from among billions of records. That cumulative experiences means we’ll find more accurate results much faster than enthusiasts.

It’s the time we spend attending professional genealogy conferences, continuing our education, and developing new skills so we can stay up-to-date with the latest in genealogical practices.

It’s the time spent walking our clients through what we’ve discovered in our research and explaining the historical significance of their ancestors’ lives.

It’s the time to make progress, every day, instead of sporadically (as many enthusiasts are forced to do).

As you can see, there’s a big difference between a professional genealogist and a hobbyist/enthusiast. If you’d like to learn more about what professional genealogy services Heirlines offers, visit our Services page or get in touch with us.  (click here to contact us)


The 12 Hallmarks of a Professional Genealogist.


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+.

Give us a call and speak with one of our professional genealogists today.

Call toll free 1-800-570-4049 or visit us at

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