Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Careers in Genealogy - My Choices Work For Me

Continuing the series of  Genea-Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) on the Geneabloggers blog, Thomas MacEntee has written Careers in Genealogy – “Off the Chart” Thinking today.  He identifies ten potential careers doing genealogy work - Researcher, Author, Educator, Curator, Archivist, Librarian, Analyst, Marketer, Retailer and Technologist.  Read the comments on his post for opinions of several readers.

My opinions and experiences:

1)  Can any of those career labels support a family full-time?  Yes, if you're really good at it (i.e., have a degree and/or relevant experience in the specific field) and work full-time for a profitable company in the genealogy field.  A top-of-the-line independent Researcher, perhaps with one or more specialties, can make a living wage, but unless they have one or two long-term clients, they will always be looking regularly for more clients. 

2)  My major interests in that career list include Researcher, Author, Educator and Analyst.  I pursue all four regularly with:

a)  Researcher:  My own ancestral family research, plus research for selected persons, usually friends from the "real world" who might be interested in family history.  Sort of a "priming the ancestral pump" sort of operation.  I love doing research both online and in repositories, but I don't really like spending weeks on end in repositories.  Of course, my Research efforts inform my author and educator efforts.

I realized several years ago that, at my age, I didn't really want to become a "Certified Genealogist" or take a series of short-term or long-term clients that would require many hours of slogging through FHL microfilms or musty archives records looking for somebody else's long lost ancestors.  I really didn't want my own small business, with the accompanying accounting and marketing problems.  Becomng a CG requires several years of dedicated work, and I chose to not dedicate those years to that (maybe I should rename this blog the Slacker Genealogist?).

b)  Author:  Other than my four genealogy blogs, which take 1-3 hours each day to feed, I am editor for the monthly Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter, write the "Genealogy 2.0" column for the quarterly FGS FORUM Magazine, write regular articles for the San Diego Genealogical Society newsletter, and a yearly Seaver-Richmond Family Journal newsletter.  None of those pay anything, but they are excellent experience and useful to the genealogical community (I hope!).

I've had inquiries from several of the print/digital genealogy magazines to write articles for publication, but have decided not to pursue it because of the time required to write them well.  I greatly admire the authors that do submit and have their articles published in the magazines - my material always seems to pale in comparison (at least to me!) as far as grammar, brevity and breadth.

c)  Educator:  I teach two series of classes to genealogists, concentrating on the start of the education cycle; this includes a four session (8 hour total) class on Beginning Computer Genealogy (online education, online research, genealogy software) three times a year for the San Diego OASIS adult education program.  I am paid for these efforts.  I also teach a once-a-year class on Genealogy 101 (Beginner level) at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, for which I volunteer my services.

My speaking schedule has evolved from doing one or two presentations each year to CVGS for free to providing 8 to 12 presentations (or seminars) to Southern California genealogical societies for a nominal honorarium and expenses.  I also speak occasionally to library, civic and church groups about genealogy and family history topics, concentrating on what, when, why and how to get started.

d)  Analyst:  I do this mainly in my Genea-musings blog, where my experience as a research specialist in aerospace engineering comes in handy.  I'm good with numbers, figuring things out, and being able to write coherently about them.

I make enough money from the teaching and speaking to cover my expenses for research books, genealogy society memberships, genealogy software, record database subscriptions and conference registrations.  We usually go to two conferences each year as part of our vacation schedule.

The above, plus my volunteer work for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, fill my genealogy plate to overflowing.  I spend 8 to 10 hours each day doing genealogy work of some sort, and it keeps me entertained and intellectually challenged.  There's no boss to tell me how to do something, and no hassles with co-workers.  I'm very much into the no stress, no deadline, let's see what happens lifestyle now (unfortunately, the only muscles exercised seem to be in my fingers and between my ears).  I own it, I love it, I'm having lots of Genealogy Fun doing what I do.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog!
Don't ever stop!

Cindy said...

Genealogy Slacker - I don't think so, not after reading all that you are doing! Please keep it up - I enjoy reading your posts!

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Randy, you are anything but a slacker genealogist. You provide so much to the community. I especially appreciate your analysis skills. Whenever a new "shiny object" comes out, I know you'll review it and let me know the scoop. Thanks for all you do in your busy, accomplished genealogy career.

Jasia said...

Slacker Genealogist? I love the name but that is sooo not you, lol! You are the genealogist and retiree most of us aspire to be. I wish I had half your energy and a quarter of your blog writing speed!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

I admire most your focus and internal drive to do what works best for you. You are able to say 'NO' at the right times, for you. Yet, you are filling such an 'IMPORTANT' role is the genealogy community. THANK YOU very much! Keep up the good work! ;-)

PDQ Research said...

I'm a full time genealogist and support a family of six. It's hard sometimes, and there is a lot hustle involved in locating clients and employers. I get asked to volunteer for many things that I would like to do, but I have to make sure there are checks coming in. My blogs and website are mainly marketing tools. I'd like to write and teach more, but I can make more per hour with research. Your article was a good addition to the discussion.

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