Genealogical Credentialing and Education

There are two credentialing bodies for genealogy, ICAPGen (International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists) and BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists). ICAPGen awards the AG (accredited genealogist) credential, and BCG awards the CG (certified genealogist) credential.

I don’t have either credential, but am working on submitting a portfolio to BCG in hopes of being awarded the CG.

The AG credential is examination-based (that is, you have to take a set of exams). Your AG is specific to a geographical area such as New England, Ireland, etc. ICAPGen has annual educational conferences and lists educational opportunities on its website, but has no specific educational requirements for accreditation candidates. ICAPGen recommends 1,000 hours of experience in the region where you are seeking accreditation.

The CG credential is portfolio-based (that is, you have to submit a portfolio consisting of genealogical work products). BCG offers an education workshop at each year’s National Genealogical Society conference but, like ICAPGen, does not require specific educational courses or programs for credentialing.

Both ICAPGen’s and BCG’s websites list lots of education resources. The BCG one also has a Skillbuilding section with work samples. Another excellent site with work examples is Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Historic Pathways. You can have no better model for your work than Elizabeth!

Genealogical education is decentralized, with thousands of resources out there. You can choose from short, face-to-face classes; multi-day conferences or institutes; or online resources. For example:

    • Offerings from local and state genealogical societies,  local libraries, and community education programs. My own society, the Minnesota Genealogical Society, offers a variety of courses in fall and spring and holds several multi-day conferences each year. Offerings are aimed at all levels of genealogists, from beginners to advanced practitioners. In my area, Hennepin County Library offers classes and has put on a day-long Family History Fair for the past three years.
    • NGS has an annual conference (Las Vegas coming up next year) and offers a variety of short and long courses. I completed the NGS Home Study Course, which I recommend. I’ve also taken their Transcription and Abstracting course, and my husband just completed the new DNA one.
    • FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) also has an annual conference (coming up at the end of this month in Birmingham, Alabama, next year in Fort Wayne, Indiana)
    • Then there are the institutes, week-long programs including:
    • A really great opportunity is the ProGen study groups. All of the above resources cost money, but ProGen is free! It is an eighteen-month peer study program. You become part of a group, and your group studies the chapters in Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book Professional Genealogy together with a certified genealogist who serves as a group mentor. I completed the ProGen program with peer group 5. The program was started by Angela Packer McGhie, who writes an excellent education blog.
    • And then there are tons of webinars, free and fee-based. Go to for a listing.
    • Both Ancestry and FamilySearch offer free recorded classes.
    • Last but not least there are Internet groups  meeting monthly to study articles published in the NGS Quarterly (NGSQ). Blogger Sheri Fenley (The Educated Genealogist) coordinates. Click here to get connected.

If you’re looking for genealogical education, you can find offerings that suit your budget and timetable. The problem is choosing!


3 comments on “Genealogical Credentialing and Education

  1. Jim

    Two books I found which have been very valuable on this subject are “The BCG Genealogy Standards Manual” and “Evidence Explained”. They will help you understand what is required for certification.

    I just found your blog through Geneabloggers. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  2. Kathryn

    This is great information. Thanks for posting!


  3. Sheri Fenley

    Thank you Lois for the shout out about the discussion groups. There are currently 5 online groups with a 6th that is now forming. Love to have you and all your readers join us!