Hiring a Genealogist

People hire professional genealogists for a number of reasons. Perhaps they want to know about their family history, but donít have the time to do the research themselves. Or they may be genealogists themselves who have hit a brick wall, and are hoping a professional may be able to help them to break through it. Whatever your reason is for hiring a professional genealogist, there are some things you should look for in doing so.

Genealogical Services

Professional genealogists perform different types of services, so be sure to hire one who is willing and knowledgeable to do the type of research you need. Do you need a record search, extensive genealogy research, missing persons search, family website, written biography, etc. You should be able to locate a genealogist able to perform virtually any genealogical service you need.


Professional genealogist fees vary greatly, but you can almost always expect to pay an hourly rate. Some genealogists work for as little as about $20 per hour, while others charge as much as $75 (or even more) per hour. Also expect to pay either a deposit or the full amount up-front. This guarantees that the genealogist will be paid for the work they perform. Miscellaneous costs, such as travel, postage, and rental fees, are often charged in addition to the hourly rate. Professional genealogists will work within specific budgets.


A professional genealogist should ask you to read and sign a contract. Contracts may outline the scope of the work to be performed, cost, time frame, and anything else you and the genealogist have agreed on. The contract should also state who retains the copyright of the genealogy research report. In most cases, the genealogist will hold this copyright so the client cannot publish the report without permission.

Client Expectations

While an honest professional genealogist will do their very best to uncover any and all information about a clientís ancestry, sometimes the information is simply not there. No genealogist can guarantee how much information they will find, and any who make these guarantees are not being honest. Professional genealogists are paid for the time they spend performing your research, and not by the amount of information they come up with. It is important that anyone who is considering hiring a professional genealogist knows and understands this.

Where to Locate a Professional Genealogist

Professional genealogists can be found online, in the yellow pages, and in the classified sections of genealogical magazines. Many are members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and can be searched for on the associationís website at www.APGEN.org.