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Professional Genealogists Education Plan
I am frequently asked by people how they too can become a successful professional genealogist. I will tell you the same thing your high school counselor told you. Education.

Education. Education. Education.

Invest in yourself and your education. There is no short cut. There is no free ride. You must build a strong foundation of knowledge before you even think of figuring out what your niche is. There is a wealth of information available to us online. Your first job is to learn the resources available to you. As you learn about the many niches in genealogy you’re going to discover those that really interest you. Maybe your interest is piqued by doing lineage research, forensic, house histories, DNA and more!

Learning Genealogy Basics from Home

There is a lot you can do to enhance your personal education from home. Start with joining your local society! Google, genealogy society [your city, state]. You can go and meet your tribe there! No one rolls their eyes at you when you talk about your love of genealogy.

NGS Home Study Course now called American Genealogical Studies. The National Genealogical Society has a number of great lessons you can work on from home.


Legacy Family Tree Webinars. You can watch videos free for seven days then they go behind the subscriber wall. No handouts are available to people who are not subscribers. They offer great speakers with a variety of subjects.

Southern California Genealogical Society. Just like Legacy above. Top notch speakers teaching on a variety of subjects. Free to watch live.

FamilySearch.org. There is a lot of information available on their Wiki page. They have past videos as well as new classes being offered.

Ancestry Academy. There are some free videos here as well.

Books You Should Own

Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, Third Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2000.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Third Edition, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015. O

Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2013.

There are many other books you could own but these are the building blocks to start with.

Conferences to Enhance Your Education

NGS – National Genealogical Society. Held in a different city every year.

RootsTech. Biggest draw for many of us is the Family History Library the next block over from the Salt Palace. We can attend classes and use the library in the same day.

Step Up Your Education

The list of educational opportunities below run for 3-5 days depending on the organization. This is in depth learning at its best.

SLIG – Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Many courses available from beginner to advanced. Build your education here. The other bonus when attending this institute is the ability to use the Family History Library as well.

GRIP – Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Just like SLIG only closer to the east coast!

APG PMC – Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference (now you’ve hit the big league!) This is the Events by APG members.

IGHR – Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. New hosting facility at the University of Georgia, Athens. [Used to be at Samford, Alabama. 2016 was last year there.] At this writing I only find the facebook page for IGHR.

Gen-Fed – Genealogical Institute on Federal Records. They also have a facebook page.

Do You Still Want to be a Professional Genealogist?

If you’re ready to take that next step as a professional you will need this book:
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Professional Genealogy: A MANUAL FOR RESEARCHERS, WRITERS, EDITORS, LECTURERS AND LIBRARIANS, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001.

You will use this manual in conjunction with the lessons taught in the 19 month program, ProGen Study Groups


CG(SM) – Certified Genealogist (sm)– Board for Certification of Credentialed Genealogists

AG(SM) – Accredited Genealogist (sm) – ICAPGen – International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists

Societies to Join

Each of these societies can help to enhance your learning as well as help you to be a better genealogist.

APG – Association of Professional Genealogists

UGA – Utah Genealogical Association

NGS – National Genealogical Society

Your local genealogical society. Then volunteer to help people there. You will learn as much as they do, trust me on this one!


If you have any questions I hope you’ll ask. If you have suggestions to continue this discussion please send me a note at: leslie@LawsonResearch.net