Why pursue certification? For me it is simply this: I want to be the best that I can be. And for me, that means pursuing the credential of Certified Genealogist.
There are two credentialing bodies in the USA – The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) which bestows the Certified Genealogist (CG) credential and the International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists (ICAPGen) which confers the Accredited Genealogist (AG) on those who meet their standards. After doing a lot of research on both I decided to work on becoming a Certified Genealogist.
The first step in the journey to certification is to gain more education and improve genealogical skills. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Join genealogical societies – from the local level to international.
- Read the journals published by those genealogical societies.
- Use social media and follow genealogists and others whom you can learn from
- Set up Feedly or some other way to track the genealogy blogs you want to read
- Watch webinars.
- Index or volunteer in some way so that you are giving back as well as learning
- Attend institutes or conferences, if you are able to. I have been able to attend the last three RootsTech conferences and thoroughly enjoyed them. Attend your local genealogy society conferences too.
- Improve writing skills by …. writing! Even if you are researching your own family lines, write the research report as if it were going to a client.
There are also many free independent study courses that can help in improving the skills needed. I have completed the Family History Skills course which is a free self-paced, online course offered by the National Genealogical Society. It is part of the benefit of being a member. It was a good, basic refresher course for me. I also took the 6 week University of Strathclyde online genealogy course in July 2016. This was a worthwhile course to take especially if you have British Isles ancestry.
There is no academic course of study that can qualify you as a professional genealogist but there are university degree programs or certificate programs. BYU offers a B.A in Family History and Boston University offers a Certificate in Genealogical Studies which I completed in the summer of 2017. Read more about the BU Certificate in Genealogical Studies here. I completed the ProGen 37 study program in June 2019 and plan to be certified through the Board for Certification of Genealogists within 2 years.