Now don't get me wrong. I AM a professional, having been accredited through ICAPGen for nearly fifteen years.
For several years prior to taking the test for accreditation, I thoroughly researched the difference between becoming certified through BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists), and even going on to pursue that of being a CGL (Certified Genealogical Lecturer).
There wasn't a lot out there to help me at the time I was seeking the credentials that would identify me as a professional. Accredited Genealogists (AG) seemed to be more of a western thing, for the testing was done by the LDS Church at the Family History Library. Certified Genealogists (CG) seemed to be more well known, but I didn't know if I could pass the testing process.
Actually I didn't know if I could pass either of the testing processes.
I decided to become an AG for the Southern States.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I thought I was fairly good, but this process refined me and polished me. I submitted my paperwork and received word that it had been accepted. The next step would be to make an appointment at the Family History Library. This would not be a problem since we travel to Utah frequently to visit family.
At the time I tested, the Southern States included everything from Virginia to Texas. That was a bit of a problem for me, for I didn't really know much about Texas, or Louisiana, or the other states associated with the deep south.
But, I had to learn.
On a Wednesday in October, I dropped my oldest son off at the Missionary Training Center to leave for a two-year mission, drove to Salt Lake City with tears in my eyes, and began my testing that evening.
Little did I know how difficult the next three days would be. At the end of each day, I had to wait to find out if my test results came back at 90% or above. If they did, I would be invited back for the next day for more testing.
This went on until the final day, which included a minimum of four hours of an oral examination in a room with eight individuals from the Family History Library. Oh, my! I was grilled. I sweated bullets. I twisted in my seat.
But, I passed.
During the last thirty minutes, I was asked to leave the room while they discussed me. I gladly left! Soon, I was invited back in. A question was asked of me: If I were to be granted this Accreditation, what would I do with it?
I answered without pausing. I simply stated that I would take what I learn and teach it to others for the rest of my life.
They concurred that I had indeed passed the necessary requirements, and they felt good about the work I had done.
And, it's enough for me.
I have renewed my credentials every five years, as required. I have had to show that I am keeping up with current trends, both as a genealogist and as a speaker. I keep a spreadsheet showing the classes I have taught, as well as the many opportunities I have had for learning. I have almost as much to submit for renewal as I did at the beginning. I was the last person to be tested by the Church before the testing facility evolved into what is now known as ICAPGen (The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists).
Now, why do I even bring this up?
This past weekend was the annual OGS Conference (Ohio Genealogical Society), of which I am a frequent presenter. I love this event, for it's right here in my home state. People come from all over the country to attend.
A few conversations rolled around to my becoming "double credentialed". In other words, to add being a CG and CGL to my postnomial AG might be a good idea to consider. I was encouraged, for having been a professional for most of my life, it would not be hard to complete the process. However, I left the conference feeling this is not to be.
Though the two credentialing parties have different focuses, they are every bit as stringent. Methodology is used in both cases, with the exception that AG's must test in a specific area. (Since my initial testing, the Southern States have been divided. I am now accredited in the Mid-South.)
One of the last people I talked to before leaving informed me that becoming a CG involved such rigorous testing that I would literally be astounded. Apparently, becoming an AG was a piece of cake compared to becoming a CG. I believe I had just been insulted. And, it takes a lot to insult me. All of the respect I had for this individual suddenly diminished, for it was obvious they had no respect for the process of becoming an AG.
So, I will maintain my status as an Accredited Genealogist and will not seek for more. Some people have no postnomials at all, and are every bit the professional that I am - and even more! I will continue to lift up and build the confidence of my colleagues.
And, I will take what I learn and teach it to others - for the rest of my life.