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Interested in Becoming a Certified Genealogist?

Interested in Becoming a Certified Genealogist?

Many researchers ask the question, "How can I get certified?" Here is my short list of what you need to do to prepare yourself for certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You will be submitting a portfolio of work which will be evaluated by three (or four) judges. 

  • Read The BCG Application Guide
    Everything you need to know about the process as well as what is required for the portfolio is in this free publication. You need to understand exactly what is required for each component. If you don’t follow the directions you will get seriously dinged, possibly to the point of instant failure.
  • Compare each section of your portfolio to the BCG Rubrics
    The Judges use the BCG rubrics to evaluate your portfolio so you need to make sure your portfolio passes each rubric before you submit it.  You are lucky to have the rubrics up front.
  • Pay attention to the Standards listed in each Rubric
    The BCG has listed each standard that applies to that rubric which you can look up in the Genealogy Standards manual.  This book is essential. When you look up the standard you will see expanded information. You should be familiar with ALL of the standards in this book but pay special attention to the ones listed in the rubrics.
  • Take advantage of the helps the BCG offers
    Visit BCG's Preparing for Certification page and Learning Center. You can follow the BCG News blog to keep up to date with the latest happenings. All applicants are automatically subscribed to OnBoard when they submit their preliminary application

    The BCG now contracts with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host the BCG Webinars Series. You can register for these ahead of time and they are free to watch live and for 7 days after they have been archived. After that you will need a webinar subscription to view them. A benefit of having a webinar subscription is that you can go back and watch any of the webinars whenever you want and you will have access to the syllabuses. 
  • Read Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG
    The first two chapters are crucial to understand the why and how of citing your sources.
  • Be aware that no one can give you specific help/advice on your projects nor can anyone proofread your work 
    There is a special mailing list for those that are “on the clock” and you can get answers to procedural type questions there. As far as the portfolio work itself, you are on your own. No one can proofread your work before you submit it. You also can’t use any material that has been previously peer-reviewed such as a ProGen assignment. 
  • Proofreading is still important though
    When you are ready to submit your portfolio, set it aside for at least 24 hours (a week would be better) and then proofread it for the last time. I recommend reading it out loud. You are apt to catch something that you didn’t see before because when you read something over and over again you tend to skim. Grammar and punctuation are important as are good editing skills. More words doesn’t mean it’s a better report. Once you have done your final read through don’t start second guessing yourself and try to go back and “fix” things. There comes a point when you just need to let it go.

The BCG allows up to a year to complete your portfolio but they do allow you to extend if need be and many people do (I did). The certification process itself is a wonderful learning experience. 


Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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Proofreading required...
"You will be submitting a portfolio of work which will be evaluated three (or four) judges."

A person can't have too many editors. I have fixed my boo boo :) I will say that my error wouldn't have been enough to fail my portfolio ;)

Are these study groups open to non-CG candidates? I would not want to go through a 19 month ProGen group but the 8 week GenProof group sounds like it would be valuable to serious amateur genealogists also.

They most certainly are :)

I started this 6 years ago, due to a death, just before I was to send in my work, it did not get done. 3 moves later, with storage, may I still be able to send in a years work, or do I have to repay and start over again?
Thank you,
Barbara Chesley Maloney
1204 East Caroline St.
Tavares, FL

If you didn't ask for an extension when your year was up then you will have to go through the entire process again including the application fee (which is the same amount as the extension fee so no difference there). You will need to fill out another preliminary application. You can use the research that you already did BUT it will be judged based on the current Application Guide and standards and not by what was in use when you first applied so bear that in mind. You will need to review everything to make sure it meets the current guide and rubrics.

Michele Their is many questions I have Reguarding genealogy Certifactions, My main question what is the difference between each one of them.

The AG and the CG are equally respected though their processes are very different. You can read what is expected in the CG application guide (link in the article) and the AG application guide which you can see here One process might be better suited to your personal style than the other so it is good to investigate both.

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