The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) is a certifying body for genealogists with two categories of certification: Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical Lecturer®. The BCG Application Guide outlines the certification process, which includes a preliminary application and a final application that includes submission of a portfolio demonstrating one’s genealogical skills. The certification process examines the following skills:

  • understanding research sources and methods

  • planning, executing, and reporting the results of research

  • citing sources

  • evaluating evidence

  • proving kinship

  • resolving genealogical problems

The final application portfolio is due within a year of the date one signs the preliminary application form.

The BCG has several publications and a learning center that helps prepare aspiring certificate holders for the certification process.


The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is a non-profit organization that fosters the genealogical community through education, training, publications, and conferences. Membership is $70.00 per year for an individual membership with discounts for multiple-year membership subscriptions. Families can subscribe for $90.00. I joined this organization several years ago and find it invaluable. Membership includes free skills courses, magazines that come out periodically, and discounts on conferences that are packed full of more information than one can possibly take in. A bonus - the folks you interface with are just about the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever encountered.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) just announced that they are merging with NGS. I never belonged to FGS, but fellow genealogists just raved about their conferences, so I’m sure this will make for one dynamic organization (the merger will operate as NGS).


The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) is an international membership organization of promoting professional genealogists. They offer two types of memberships: Professional Member ($120/year) and Subscriber ($60.00/year). Membership benefits include publications, conferences, professional development, and webinars. I am not a member of this organization, but hope to be so soon.

American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society

American Ancestors by New England Historic Genealogical Society is absolutely amazing! It is billed as America’s founding genealogical organization (founded in 1845!) and the most respected name in family history. It is a membership organization with free guest membership, full membership ($94.95/year individual - $119.95/year family), and life membership ($5,000 one time). They have databases, special collections, consultant services, a learning center, a library, a bookstore, lectures - you name it, they have it. I’ve attended several of their free webinars and always find them fascinating and extremely helpful. I follow their American Ancestors account and Chief Genealogist, David Allen Lambert (I’m starstruck!) on Twitter.

Boston University Genealogy Studies Program

I can’t say enough good things about the Boston University Genealogy Studies Program. It’s intense and fast-paced, but through this certification program, you are trained by the best in their field, and the learning doesn’t stop there. Being a graduate of this program means you’re part of a family that continues to interact and support each other through Google groups and other social media. And when you run into someone at a conference who went through this program, you have no idea how you’re greeted! There is an introductory 7-week course called Genealogical Principles. It’s very elementary, but I’m glad I took it, as it sets you up perfectly for the full course - Certificate in Genealogical Research. I’m as proud of this certificate as I am of my high school, college, master’s, and post graduate degrees.

University of Strathclyde Glasgow Certificate - Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

I had so much fun in the Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree course offered through FutureLearn by the University of Strathclyde Glasgow! It’s a free online course, or, if you want the certificate, you pay $94 and satisfy the certificate criteria. Tahitia McCabe was the instructor in the course I took and it’s now my dream to study under her in the full MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies program. And you get a certificate you can share on social media - here’s mine: Certificate of Achievement.