How much does it cost to hire a professional genealogist to help with your application?

This is the question no one ever wants to ask, but one that’s crucially important.

I’ll be speaking here in general terms, so if you have questions about a specific case, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

When you’re working on a lineage society application, you generally are deal with four sets of costs:

  1. The cost of the professional’s time
  2. The cost of any documents the professional needs to be purchase.
  3. The cost of preparing the application.
  4. The cost of submitting the application.

Let’s delve into them one at a time, starting from the last:

4. The cost of submitting the application generally includes the cost the society charges to review the application as well as any membership dues. These fees are set by the society and are something over which the professional has no control. If you have any concerns about the fees, talk to the society’s registrar.

3. Not every professional genealogist will prepare an application for you! If you’d like a professional to do so, make sure you discuss it during the initial interview. The cost of preparing the application will generally include the time preparing the application (which will depend on the professional, plan for 2-3 hours), costs for any special paper, etc., and mailing fees.

2. Many societies require that vital records (birth, death, and marriage certificates) be submitted for at least the first three generations and often for whatever generations for which they might exist. While some records have been digitized and are available online, others will need to be ordered. Plan to allocate $20-$30 per certificate and 5 certificates (2 births, 2 death, 1 marriage) per generation as a rough budget.

  1. The cost of the professional’s time will vary based on the professional’s experience and place of residence. (Yes, there is a regional difference in professional fees.) Remember, professional genealogy is a skilled profession. Plan with what you’d normally pay a skilled professional, and you’ll be fine.

Does this feel overwhelming? You’re not alone! Keep in mind, most genealogists can and will work with a budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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