How Much Does a Genealogist Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Genealogists can be considered history detectives. They use various resources and research methods to trace a person’s ancestry. Most genealogists started out researching their own family history, and after developing an interest in the process, decided to turn it into a business. Using what information the client has about his family, a genealogist will then use clues in the dates, places and names of that information to research more information.

Part Time

Most genealogists work at it part time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57 percent of genealogists are part time while only 34 percent worked full time, as of 1997. The remaining 9 percent only consider it a hobby. Just about all of them are self-employed as well.


Paid genealogists charge by the hour as well as billing for out-of-pocket expenses incurred to research. A well-known genealogy research company, Legacy Tree, charges $50 an hour. Independent researchers could be expected to charge less, though the project might take longer. Projects are billed on an hourly basis and can vary from a simple marriage record search that might take an hour to a multigenerational project that could take hundreds of hours of research.

Number of Genealogists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted that it was difficult to try and count the number of genealogists in the country because of the overlap between hobbyists and part-time genealogists. In 1997, 320 genealogists were certified, but genealogy associations listed thousands of members. The Federation of Genealogical Societies is a group of roughly 550 member genealogy societies that represented more than 500,000 people, and this did not include all genealogy societies. “A still greater number of genealogists are not members of any such societies. How many are full or part time or hobbyists also is unknown, as is the number who collect fees for their services,” notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additional Revenue Streams

Genealogists can also increase their income by branching out. Besides doing family research for others, genealogists can also research asset recovery or heirs for estates. They can write articles and books about their work to help other genealogists in their search as well as teach genealogy classes or lecture on the subject.