Many genealogists consider their research a hobby, but there are many opportunities for employment in genealogy and related fields. Self-employed genealogists work with individual families, with geneticists and physicians to research health data on a patient's ancestors, and with church groups and other organizations that research adoption records. Genealogists may also be able to find full-time work with professional family researchers, historical societies, libraries, and other research-oriented organizations.
New genealogists have to work hard to drum up business. This may require advertising in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers, on the Internet, with genealogical and historical societies, and in genealogical magazines. They might also leave business cards with the local public or university library and historical society. As with any self-employed profession, steady work is never guaranteed, and genealogists may have to supplement their income. Many choose to do family history work only part time, while holding other jobs, such as librarian, writer, teacher, and college professor.
Self-employed genealogists advance their careers through their dedication to quality work, cleverness, and efforts to find new clients. Certification can help; professional societies publish lists of accredited members and distribute them to the public upon request. Genealogists can also diversify their skills, either by gaining more accreditation or by expanding services into related work, such as writing family histories and designing family crests and coats of arms. Other ways of expanding services might include conducting seminars or writing articles and how-to books to help amateurs.
Tips for Entry
Read the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (https://www.apgen.org/publications) and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (https://www.ngsgenealogy.org/ngsq) to learn more about the field.
Join the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) to access publications, receive member discounts, and gain access to a members-only mailing list. The National Genealogical Society also provides membership and useful resources.
Talk to genealogists about their careers. The APG has a member database (http://www.apgen.org/directory) that you can use to find potential interview candidates.