5 Questions To Ask a Professional Genealogist Before Hiring

When you are ready to hire a professional genealogist for your family history project, the members of the Association of Professional Genealogists offer specialized skills that will complement your unique project. It can be daunting to know what questions you should ask a genealogist to make sure that it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. Here are some questions you may want to consider as you search for the best professional for your project. Click here for a PDF version. 

1. What is your pricing structure?

Genealogists have a range of billing practices. Find out if they offer package pricing, charge by the hour, or if they have a required minimum for projects. Do they require payment in advance or at the end of the project? If you have a budget in mind, share that with the genealogist at the start.

2. What will I receive at the end of the project?

Make sure you understand exactly how you will receive your results. Will it be delivered electronically or by mail? Will it be a formal report or in an online tree or another format?

3. What is the time frame?

Many genealogists have waiting lists or are working on multiple tasks at any given time, so they may not be able to get to your project right away. Ensure you understand how long it may take them to complete this work to manage your expectations. Communicate any deadlines you may have, such as an upcoming family reunion.

4. What skills or experience do you have that align with my project goals?

Since every family is different and records vary widely by time and place, don’t hesitate to ask your potential genealogist for validation that they are the right person for the job. For instance, if you’re trying to find your biological family through DNA, are they experienced in that area? If your family hails from Poland while it was part of Russia, can they read Cyrillic?

5. What information do you need from me to get started?

Ask them exactly what background information they will need from you. If you have a family tree made by an older relative, make sure they’re aware of it. Supplying them with everything up front will ensure they aren’t spending your valuable research time on records and information that are already known.