Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why Should You Hire a Professional Genealogist?

Sometimes in our family history research we reach a point where we can't go any further. This is often referred to as a brick wall. How family historians deal with their brick walls varies. Some choose to set it aside. Others keep working at it on their own. Some choose to hire a professional genealogist.

Why should you hire a professional genealogist?

1) Not everything can be found on the Internet.
No doubt there is a lot of information that can be found about your ancestors on the Internet. However, if you have reached the point where you can't find anything else, or you know there is information about your ancestor in a specific location you aren't able to access yourself, then it may be time to hire a professional. Hiring a professional genealogist in a certain location will ultimately save you time and money. Genealogists specializing in certain geographic areas, and/or specific ethnic groups know the in's and out's of researching that particular area or group.

2) Education and Experience.
It has been my experience with discussing and networking with other professional genealogists, that professional genealogists take their education seriously. Whether that education is in the form of formal family history courses, or attending conferences, most professional genealogists I know are continually learning. What you gain from hiring a professional genealogist is that knowledge.

3) Professional standards.
When hiring a professional genealogist ask about credentials and standards. If the genealogist is a Certified Genealogist, then he or she has had their work reviewed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). Many genealogists are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). They agree to uphold themselves to the standards of professional conduct set by the BCG or the APG. Not all professional genealogists are certified, however, this doesn't mean they don't do quality work.

4) Research Rates.
Would you pay your plumber or mechanic $15.00 per hour?
Why do you expect to pay a professional genealogist the same? The rate a professional genealogist charges depends on a number of things such as experience, education, certification, and location.
Are you looking for someone to research your family history, or someone just to do a look-up for you? The reality is hiring a professional genealogist isn't cheap. The rate researchers charge varies from place to place. In a large city such as Toronto, you can expect to pay $50.00 per hour. In smaller cities, you can expect to pay $25.00 - $35.00 per hour. Don't be afraid to ask what you are getting for the research fee.
Hiring a professional genealogist is a lot like buying other things in life; you get what you pay for. If someone offers to do your whole family history for $20.00, I would question the quality and reliability of that genealogist.

5) Know Your Limits.
Ask yourself how much time and money do you have to do the research yourself. You might be able to turn a vacation into a research trip, but then again, you might not. Do you have the time to learn how to do the research in that particular state, province or country? Do you know what you're looking for and where to find it? This where hiring a professional genealogist might save you time, money and frustration.

5) Have a Budget.
Plan a family history budget. Knowing how much you can spend on your family history project will help you determine whether or not you can afford to hire a professional genealogist. Most professional genealogists are willing to work within your budget. They will let you know what amount of research can be done within those financial limits.

6) Ask Questions.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about education, experience, qualifications. Ask how much research can be done within your budget. Ask.

For more information about hiring a professional genealogist, I suggest you visit the APG website.

Pair of Shoes by Kathryn Hogan, Windsor, ON, 2012.
Remember, hiring a professional genealogist should be like buying a new pair of shoes. If they don't feel comfortable, then it's probably not a good fit.

Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2012.