Although I’m slowly forming what my professional goals are, this lesson made me reevaluate if genealogical degrees really are better than certificate programs.
Overall, most organizations do not require degrees when hiring genealogists, but after researching ProGenealogists.com (Ancestry.com’s research division) it appeared that they did. At first I felt pretty discouraged. Ancestry.com and their various departments have great employee benefits, so the idea that I couldn’t work there (even if I wanted to) was disheartening.
I kept wondering why it seemed that Ancestry preferred degrees over credentials, since that is the opposite position of the rest of the genealogical world. As ProGenealogists.com words it (on their webpage) a degree is a “Qualification,” and certification (or accreditation) is “a plus.”
Suddenly I began to wonder if I should have gotten a degree instead of a certificate. Ancestry.com is a big corporation. Did they really value degrees over credentials? [To read more, click on the "Read More" words to the bottom right hand side of this post.]
After much research, I still believe earning a certificate is the best solution before accreditation or certification (then again, your path might be different).
Ancestry.com words their job criteria as “Qualifications,” instead of job requirements. Qualifications suggest recommended experience while requirements suggest prerequisites. Perhaps I misunderstood their stance.
To make sure I was thinking correctly, I emailed ProGenealogists.com and asked if degrees were required for genealogical positions. Their response was that degrees are not mandatory. They are mostly requiring employees with backgrounds in family history and professional standards.
Since Ancestry.com is a leading industry in their field they would know better than anyone that credentials rank higher than degrees. So then why do they word their qualifications so vaguely? It’s my belief that they do so because clients may not be aware of that fact.
Think about it… in most of the careers today degrees are the highest form of training. For the uninformed client, they may perceive Ancestry.com incompetent if they obviously praise credentials higher than degrees (once again, this is only my opinion. They have not clarified if they value credentials over degrees, but maybe I should send them another email and ask).
In short, this business class at SLCC continues to help me understand not only where I’m going, but how to get there. No matter which way I look at it, genealogical degrees aren’t right for me, and I would not recommend them for others.
However, you may see things differently, but don’t just take my word for it! You need to do your own research and take the path that makes the most sense for you (whether you receive a certificate, a degree, or study on your own before becoming credentialed).
For more information about this topic, please view my posts:
Why I Chose Genealogy and Why I Chose Salt Lake Community College.