image logo

Certified, Accredited, Professional: What's the Difference?

Some in the genealogical community are confused about the differences between genealogical credentials and those who offer professional services. This presentation covers the credentialing and professional organizations in the U.S. The discussion is aimed at those interested in becoming credentialed genealogists, those considering hiring a professional, and genealogical event planners who need to understand the plethora of initials following a name.
Note: The information on this page is a brief overview that was valid at the time this page was created, in the opinion of the author. For current, full, and complete information on each of the organizations named, please click on the links provided.

U.S. credentialing organizations:
  • Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG)
    • Licenses CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer credentials to those who successfully complete the requirements defined in the BCG Application Guide. The guide, many sample documents, self-tests, and a video of a two-hour certification seminar are available on the website to help potential applicants prepare. The initial application portfolio consists of:
      1. The Code of Ethics
      2. Applicant's Resume.
      3. BCG-supplied document from the applicant's area of expertise - applicant provides transcript, abstract, research focus, analysis as related to the research focus, research plan to solve the problem described in the research focus.
      4. Applicant-supplied document - applicant provides document copy, transcript, abstract, research focus, analysis as related to the research focus, research plan to solve the problem described in the research focus.
      5. Client report - pro-bono or paid, but cannot be research on your own or your spouse's family.
      6. Case study - using indirect evidence or conflicting evidence. (Includes a discussion of the problem, the supporting and contradictory evidence with full source citations, a conclusion and a reason for accepting this proof.)
      7. Kinship determination project covering at least three generations with the fourth generation of children named. (Focuses on the story of the family not the research process. Must contain proof discussions justifying the kinship conclusions for at least two parent-child relationships in different generations.)
    • The portfolio is judged by three Board-certified genealogists based on whether the applicant followed the instructions in the BCG Application Guide and meets the standards defined in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. The BCG evaluation rubrics are used in the judging process.

      If all three judges agree that the portfolio meets or does not meet the requirements the portfolio is so judged. If any of the judges disagree, the portfolio is sent to a fourth judge who will make a final determination. If the applicant disagrees with the decision there is an appeal process.
    • Requires renewal every five years with different requirements for the documents provided.
    • BCG's Educational Preparation page lists some educational opportunities that teach the skills needed to meet the requirements.
  • International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists (ICAPGen)
    • Licenses Accredited Genealogist and AG credentials to those who successfully complete the requirements defined in the Overview of the Accreditation Process and additional links from the page. Many sample documents are available on the website to help potential applicants prepare. The application process consists of:
      1. The ICAPGen Code of Ethics agreement.
      2. A contact information form and an application form.
      3. A quality four-generation research report.
      4. An eight-hour written exam covering ability to read handwriting, document recognition, knowledge of electronic databases, general knowledge of facts pertaining to the history and records of the region of specialty. If an applicant does not achieve a score of 90% or better the test must be retaken within three years.
      5. An oral review (two to three hours in length) - evaluating the four-generation project and the written exam.
    • Exams are given in Salt Lake City and a limited number of alternate locations.
    • Requires renewal every five years (must be accredited to see the requirements).
    • ICAPGen's Preparing page lists some educational opportunities that teach the skills needed to meet the requirements.



Professional membership organizations (most offer periodicals with articles to help practitioners improve their skills, the organizations do not evaluate a member's skills in order to allow joining the group):


Honorary societies:
  • American Society of Genealogists (ASG) - Formed to advance genealogical research standards and to encourage publication of the results; and to secure recognition of genealogy as a serious subject of research in the historical and social fields of learning. Election to the ASG is based on a candidate's published genealogical scholarship. Elected fellows are identified by the initials FASG.



Educational organizations:


Recommended reading:
  • Every issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, includes articles demonstrating use of the GPS.
  • BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. Washington, DC: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2000.
  • Eakle, Arlene and Johni Cerny, eds. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1984. Now online at (http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Source:_A_Guidebook_to_American_Genealogy).
  • Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 3rd ed. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publ. Co., 2000.
  • Leary, Helen F. M., ed. North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. 2nd ed. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996.
  • Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians. 3d edition. Toronto, Canada: Dundurn Press, 2010.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007. Evidence Explained expands on and updates concepts presented by Ms. Mills in Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publ. Co., 1997.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown, ed. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publ. Co., 2001.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. [Quick reference guide.] Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map. Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2006.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Sources. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publ. Co., 2005.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet: Genealogical Problem Analysis: A Startegic Plan. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publ. Co., 2010.
  • Rose, Christine. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. 3d edition. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009.



Genealogical Credentials: CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). Accredited Genealogist and AG are certification marks of the International Commission for Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen). Individuals are licensed to use the credential designations after meeting the competency standards of those organizations.




BCG seal
CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.



http://debbiewayne.com/
Wayne Research — PO Box 397 — Cushing, TX 75760-0397
© 2005–2016, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved