As a professional, I have yearly mandated CLE, Continuing Legal Education. The Arizona State Bar Association and the Arizona Supreme Court mandate 15 hours of classes every year including three hours of ethics. Since most genealogists are not registered professionals, there is no general education requirement. However Certified Genealogists by the Board for Certification of Genealogists require a renewal portfolio every five years. The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists also has a five year renewal process. There is a rather healthy debate over the effectiveness of a mandatory education requirement among attorneys, since they are argumentative by nature.
Despite some of my own misgivings as to the effectiveness of continuing education, the idea that there is a need to update skills is absolutely defensible. If you read one out of ten of my posts, you know how rapidly technology and record availability are changing for genealogists. A document that could only be found in a courthouse or rented on a microfilm may be free online or perhaps available in a subscription site. It is just as important for genealogists to have their own continuing education as it is for any other avocation or profession. So where is this continuing education? The answer is simple, at your friendly genealogy convention.
Throughout the year there are frequent conventions, big and small in all parts of the country. From a day-long local conventions sponsored by a local genealogical society to major national conventions held on a national basis. Two conventions I will be attending in the not too distant future are the Mesa Family History Expo and RootsTech. A Google search on "genealogy convention 2011" will give you a lot to choose from.
The Mesa Family History Expo is a two conference in sunny Mesa, Arizona on January 21st and 22nd, 2010. The RootsTech event will be at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 10th to the 12th, 2010. Both have more classes and exhibitors than any could possibly have time to see or visit. Now what about the cost? As I mentioned above, an attorney like me here in Arizona, has to pay for 15 hours of continuing education at about $100 to $200 an hour. Not a day, just one hour. I can search around for "free" classes, but then I have to find something I can stand to listen to for more than an hour or so. So going to a three day conference like RootsTech for about $100 or so is a bargain. OK, what about travel and expenses? Many of the conferences are now publishing classes online. In addition, there are literally hundreds of online sources for classes from beginners to professional level. For example, FamilySearch.org has Research Courses for free. You can also get a huge amount of information and even full classes from Genealogy Gems Podcasts. There are a lot of other ways to get information. You can also find a full schedule of classes of some of the larger Family History Centers.
The opportunities for learning more are really only limited by your own time and interest. If I need to learn about something, like programming wikis, one of my current projects, I purchase a book on the subject or find one in the library and go to work teaching myself what is needed.