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 enthusiasts 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.
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.
- 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 Ancestry.com (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)
This entry was posted by dwilliams on May 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm, and is filed under Articles, Ask The Expert, Consumer Education, General Information, Professionalizing Professional Genealogy, Resources, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.