Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Eight Tips for Those Considering Certification

(If you think becoming a CG or AG isn't worth the trouble, check out yesterday's post.)

Since I chose to go the certification route rather than accreditation, these tips apply to the Board for the Certification of Genealogists' portfolio and requirements. These are my notions and have no official sanction of any sort -- and are no substitute for BCG's own suggestions and work examples. But having been through the process twice (not succeeding the first time), I suggest the following.

(1) Use your research skills to learn BCG's standards and procedures. Rely on the published Standards Manual, Application Guide, and the rubrics used by judges. If hearsay tells you something dubious, check it out.

(2) Recognize that the five key portfolio items – two pieces of document work, a client report, a case study (AKA proof argument), and a three-generation kinship determination project – are each equally important demonstrations of your skills.

(3) Be detail-oriented and remember the big picture. The judges will note mistakes, but (as the judging rubrics make clear) a single misplaced comma or an omitted footnote will not ruin your chances. Nor will letter-perfect citations save your illogical and unconvincing case study!

(4) Don't hurry. Never submit your first attempt at anything. You're probably not ready if you can't fathom NGSQ articles, or if you can't bear to reread your draft submissions with a cold eye.

(5) Don't procrastinate. Meeting standards is the goal; perfection is not.

(6) Recognize the value of the research/writing/finishing experience itself, and enjoy it. And yes, I did intentionally put "finishing" in there. Certification requires us to finish several pieces of work, an opportunity we don't get as often as we need.

(7) Take advantage of educational opportunities, including BCG's free skillbuilding articles; BCG's on-line list for those on the clock; APG's webinars, discussions, and members-only mailing list; the Transitional Genealogists Forum; week-long institutes like IGHR, NIGR, Salt Lake, and GRIP; Elizabeth Shown Mills's web sites HistoricPathways and Evidence Explained; Angela McGhie's blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education; and of course the five top-line genealogy periodicals.

(8) Remember that becoming certified is not the end of the process, it's just one more step on a ladder of learning with no visible end. More on that here.

Image from Rick Payette's photostream  per Creative Commons, at


1 comment:

Martin said...

Congratulations on your CG. I obviously hold a different opinion of the process.