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Genealogy is the study of family lineage and history. Genealogists research family histories by compiling legal documents, interviews, census records, medical histories, and other sources of information. They use these resources to piece together a family line, filling in each part with supplementary information like career paths, hometowns, and so on. Many communities compile family histories, while professional writers, filmmakers, and historians rely on the work of genealogists to inform their efforts.

Genealogy has recently taken on a new dimension as DNA testing has started providing a greater, more scientifically oriented description of research subjects. Genetic genealogy looks deeper into an individual's makeup by speculating what genetic conditions could have shaped their lives.

Career Outlook

Genealogy is a popular topic, but growth as a professional field is minimal. There is demand for qualified genealogists from law offices that work to establish rights to legacy and from organizations whose membership requires birthrights, but most genealogists currently tend to practice their trade on an informal, local basis.

Working Conditions & Context

Genealogists spend the majority of their time researching. They review records and conduct interviews, most often in person, though sometimes online or over the phone. A good deal of legwork is required, as records can be found in places as varied as libraries, courthouses, archives, churches, cemeteries, and even sometimes people's basements and attics.

Genealogy requires talent at interpreting data and speculating on the nature of lives long past.

Salary Information

A typical Salary Range for this career is $25,670 - $96,530 annually.

The Median Income for this career is about $54,530 annually.

Education Information


A few colleges offer courses in genealogy, and even fewer offer a major in the field. Students interested in pursuing genealogy as a possible career should familiarize themselves with it and simply work on projects informally to build a more professional body of knowledge.

Many organizations offer courses and guidance within the field of genealogy. Individuals should take advantage of this training to improve their own success at professional genealogy.

Certification & Licensing:

The Board for Certification of Genealogists offers certification to qualified applicants in five different areas: Certified Genealogical Records Specialist, Certified Linage Specialist, Certified Genealogist, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, and Certified Genealogical Instructor.

Other Resources

Related Careers

Cultural/Physical Anthropologist

More Information

The Association of Professional Genealogists

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy

* Information regarding income is cited from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
** More than a minimum degree may be required for some careers.