By Kimberly Brown, Family Historian
Do you want to hire a professional genealogist to help you research your family tree? Are you a budding researcher who is considering becoming a professional genealogist yourself? Either way, you'll need to know about the two organizations that offer professional credentials in genealogy: the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen).
The BCG was established in 1964. Becoming a professional genealogist through the BCG means becoming a CG, or Certified Genealogist. To apply for this credential, you must submit an application outlining your genealogical experience, a research report you've written for a client, a case study, and a three-generation kinship determination project. Your entire application will be evaluated by three or four judges, and everything in your application must hold up to the genealogical proof standard. The genealogical proof standard means that:
. You have conducted a reasonably exhaustive search
. You have complete and accurate source citations
. You have analyzed and correlated all your findings
. You have resolved any conflicting evidence
. You have a well-written, coherent conclusion (whether in the form of a research report or compiled lineage)
Once you have passed the application process and been awarded the credential of CG, you will appear on the BCG's roster of professional genealogists. Potential clients can search for a genealogist by name, area of specialty, or area of residence. Your profile will appear there, along with what language skills you have, so that clients can hire the genealogist best-suited to their research needs.
Becoming an Accredited Genealogist, or AG, means that you are credentialed by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). To become an AG, you must first choose the geographic area that you want to accredit in (New England, the Gulf South, Norway, Mexico, etc.). There are currently thirty areas of accreditation and testing offered, and more are being developed. Once you know what geographic area you want to work in, you must select a family in that area to research; you must trace that family back four generations prior to 1900.
Once you have solidly researched four generations of your selected family, and once you have at least 1,000 hours of research experience in your selected geographic area, you're ready to apply. You'll turn in your research and a log of your hours. If this part of your application passes, you'll take an eight-hour written exam. If you pass the written exam, you'll have a one- to three-hour oral exam. If you pass that, you're an Accredited Genealogist! ICAPGen maintains a list of all the professionals that are credentialed through their organization. Potential clients can search this list by accreditation region, name, or place of residence (that way if they need research done in a particular archive, they can choose a researcher who lives in that area). Like the BCG, ICAPGen requires their professionals to renew their credentials every five years to ensure that their genealogists are keeping current with digital resources and new technologies.