During Fort Wayne Ancestry Day's Ask the Experts Panel, we received so many questions that we were unable to answer them all during the event. The following are questions asked and The Genealogy Center staff's responses.

How much does an expert genealogist charge? And how do they charge? By hour, by tasks? By number of documents found?

What professional genealogists charge will vary from one person to the next and one locale to the next. Some may charge by “project,” if taking on a large project like compiling a family history, or by “look-up,” in the case of an easy document retrieval when an exact citation for a record is known. However, most will charge by hour since the “product” they are providing is not just copies of documents, but the search for the information, analysis of the evidence, and a report explaining all resources checked, a summary of the positive and negative findings, and suggestions for future research.

How do you become a Certified GenealogistSM*? Recommended courses (online or on campus) for preparing to take the CGSM*  exam?

There is no such thing as a “CGSM exam.” The Board for Certification of Genealogists awards the CGSM credential to successful applicants who submit a portfolio of work that is judged by three independent judges to meet the high Research Standards established over time by the Board. Portfolios are judged according to rubrics that are viewable online at BCG’s website. The portfolio consists of several parts, some of which include document work (transcribing, abstracting, explaining the significance of and creating a first-steps research plan from a Board-supplied document and an applicant-supplied document), a case study that includes conflicting or indirect evidence in which the applicant “proves” a hypothesis through building a case using indirect evidence and correlating any conflicting evidence, a kinship-determination project through which an applicant establishes kinship between generations by using a variety of sources and analyzing evidence, and a client report. To prepare to submit an application, thoroughly explore the BCG website, which includes a number of helpful areas, such as a quiz to help you determine whether you are ready to submit an application, the rubrics that are used for judging, a pdf file of the Application Guide  and the BCG Standards Manual, work samples, and more. BCG Certification Seminars are held regularly at the two national conferences hosted by the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. BCG has a booth in the exhibit halls of those conferences where you can meet and speak to BCG associates about the application process. In addition, there are college programs through Brigham Young University and Boston University, week-long institutes and many other opportunities for gaining experience and expertise in genealogical research. None of these is required for, or an official step toward, becoming a Certified GenealogistSM, however.

*“CG” & “Certified Genealogist” are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and are used by authorized associates following periodic, peer-reviewed competency evaluations.