Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Professional Paths and Income in Genealogy

Review of the "Professional Paths and Income in Genealogy" course from the 2011 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).
Guest author: Ron Cannon

Note from Angela: I will be featuring reviews from several guest authors as they have experience taking genealogy education courses that I have not had the opportunity to take yet. I appreciate their willingness share their reviews.

The Coordinator for this SLIG course was Kory Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA. He was an excellent choice to coordinate and teach this course as he has been earning a living one way or another in this field for over thirty years. While many may have been drawn to the course by the "income" part in the title (myself included), the professional paths aspect was at least equally, and probably more, beneficial.

While all genealogists consider themselves primarily researchers (and generally thrive in that activity), the business aspects of the industry are often our greatest weaknesses. That is certainly the case with me. Having completed the ProGen on line study course this last year, Kory's course served to reinforce many of the principles learned there. Indeed, this SLIG course and ProGen are quite complementary in that regard. Sections on marketing, setting rates, billable time management, report writing (all taught by Kory), task management (Elissa Scalise Powell), vendor and client relations (George Ott), and, not least, making a profit (Craig Scott), were thorough and, for some us, eye-opening.

Other sections dealt with different career paths to be found in genealogy. For me this was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the course. Paula Start-Warren explored on-site research: earning a living as you travel to various repositories. Rosemary Cundiff of the Utah State Archives gave us an insiders look at working in archives or historical societies. Leland Meitzler discussed the ups and downs of book selling as a career path and Craig Scott gave us a candid view of the publishing business. Finally, Jim Ericson of FamilySearch explained what corporations are looking for in
genealogists as employees.

The rest of the course was rounded out with sections on teaching and writing for pay (Kory) and lecturing (Elissa). Kory also offered a couple of unscheduled round table discussions to help answer questions we might have concerning specific issues or topics. These were very enlightening.

The class experienced an epiphany when Kory announced that "genealogists are cats: they do what they want to do, when they want to do it." This course gave us much to think about exactly what we do want to do in this great field of genealogy.

While I have not taken the Professional Genealogy course at Samford (offered this year and coordinated by Elissa Scalise Powell), this SLIG offering seems to compare quite favorably. As with each course I have taken at SLIG, Kory Meyerink's "Professional Paths and Income in Genealogy" was for me the right course at the right time.

Ron Cannon
BlueGray Research

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