Although most genealogists are not involved in genealogy as a profession, there are some professional genealogists.
Fifty years ago, I went to law school to become a lawyer or an attorney (in the United States, the terms are mostly interchangeable). I spent about two and half years in law school. I took an exam and began practicing as an attorney and representing clients in court actions. There is no all-encompassing definition of lawyers or attorneys because they are involved in a lot of different activities. During my time as a lawyer, I did not feel compelled to try to get people to become lawyers. I did not think about having "fun" activities for my children so they would become interested in becoming a lawyer. None of my children are lawyers. I did not and do not worry about my children not becoming lawyers. People usually become lawyers to make money. Some do make money. Some don't make money.
About the time I began law school, I became interested in growing a garden. Eventually, I spent a great deal of time studying and reading about gardening in Maricopa County, where I lived. I wrote about gardening and taught many classes about gardening. I did not think I needed to be employed as a gardener nor did I ever make any money as a gardener, although we ate a lot of fruit and vegetables from our garden. I did not teach my children to become gardeners and felt no compulsion to do so. However, some of my children have huge productive gardens and some of them do not garden at all.
In its complexity and the amount of training needed, genealogy is more like studying law than becoming a master gardener, although both require a great deal of time and effort.
Because of the nature of genealogy and its focus on historical records, it is a subject that requires certain specific skills such as the ability to read and do intensive research. I might ask a question. De we consider someone who watches court TV to be a lawyer? Do we consider someone who purchases flowers from the local supermarket a gardener? So why do we consider people who dabble in learning about their family to be genealogists?
Genealogy is a complex pursuit. It can take years of study and practice to acquire even a basic competency. I have spent the last forty years learning about and studying genealogy and I have barely scratched the surface of the information I could still learn. It is common among genealogists to agonize and stress over the fact that their children and other family members are not "interested" in genealogy. Do we have a shortage of genealogists? Do we need to recruit more people to the profession? As of the date of this post, The State Bar of Arizona lists about 18,000 active lawyers in the state. The number of professional level genealogists in any one state is not recorded but the national Association of Professional Genealogists or APG (apg.gen
) lists 31 genealogists who specialize in Arizona genealogy. Only six of them are listed as living in Arizona out of 1669 total genealogists in the entire United States.
Can anyone be a genealogist? Is anyone who is interested in their family automatically become a genealogist? It is commonly stated that genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the United States. Here are some short quotes from Paul Allen, FUGA Founder, Ancestry.com, FamilyLink.com Director of Funium, LLC, in an article from 2011 entitled, "The Gamification of Genealogy: Potential Impact on Participation in Family History
The myth that genealogy is the #1 or #2 hobby on the internet should be dispelled. No data has ever been presented that confirms this often-heard claim. Based on industry traffic data to various types of websites, genealogy is probably a top 50 activity. It is primarily engaged in by a modest percentage of the older population. Young people rarely get involved in online genealogy research...
The first definitive published study of interest in family history was by American Demographics magazine in December 1995 . Based on nationwide surveys conducted by Maritz Marketing, it was discovered that approximately 7% of the adult population in the U.S. was involved at least somewhat in family history research. However, a much larger audience, close to half of U.S. adults is interested (but not involved) in family history.
 “Climbing the Family Tree,” in American Demographics magazine, December 1995.
The expectation that a huge number of people from any part of the world would be interested enough in genealogy to acquire the skills necessary to pursue valid genealogical research is unfounded and unwarranted. Why then do we wring our hands and worry about the younger generation becoming genealogists when there is no demand for their services?