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Genealogy Careers

Career Description

Genealogists research and compile data relating to the histories of families.

Common Work Tasks

  • Devise a plan for researching a person or family, study available sources, and reach a conclusion
  • Summarize findings in a report to the client
  • Inquire after home sources, such as personal letters, photographs, and information relatives may have
  • Utilize published sources such as books,  bibliographies, and collections of records
  • Search public and repository libraries, State archives, and city, county, or State offices of public record
  • Make notes and copies of information
  • Sort through photographs, handwritten documents,  and other sources
  • Compile data into a final report for the client

Other Job Titles

Genealogists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Historians
  • Authors
  • Biographers
  • Journalists
  • Archivists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Some employers look for a broad liberal arts background, while others prefer to hire people with experience in genealogy. A handful of genealogy institutes offer courses in genealogy, including the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

In addition to patience, genealogists should be inquisitive, have good organizational skills, and know how to use a library. Math, accounting, and communication ability also are a must for figuring out dates, tallying hours and expenses,  and explaining research results clearly. Knowing the history of a region is often essential to research.

Basic computer knowledge also is important. Some libraries have created databases and digitized their records,  making select searches faster and the information more accessible.


The median hourly rate for a Genealogist is $25. As with any occupation, fees may be higher or lower depending on a number of factors, including experience,  credentials, specialty, and geographic area. 

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  N/A
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: N/A
  • Employment 2006 : 500,000
  • Employment 2016:  N/A
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