Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives Announces Changes to Membership and Associateship Criteria

The following announcement was written by the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA):

AGRA, the body representing professional genealogists in England and Wales, has recently announced radical changes to both its Membership and Associateship criteria.

All applicants wishing to join the association will now have to attend an interview and in most cases will also be asked to undergo practical tests. The new rules also attach greater importance to formal qualifications and ongoing learning.

Under the new procedure, prospective Members and Associates will have a “face to face” discussion with AGRA’s Board of Assessors to determine their genealogical knowledge and business approach. Membership candidates may be set a research assignment, while Associates will be asked to demonstrate basic genealogical skills.

The Board has been deliberating for some time how the application process could be improved to keep pace with the changing nature of the field. Rising interest in family history has resulted in many more people entering the profession, drawn from a wider range of backgrounds. Potential Members will still be required to submit a portfolio of completed client work, as before, but the Board has come to the conclusion that this alone is no longer a sufficient basis on which to select Members.

Said Geoff Swinfield (member of the Board of Assessors): “AGRA plays a key role in setting standards within the profession. If AGRA is to be relevant in the future it must give its Members the opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the exacting standards which fit them to offer their services to the fee-paying public.”

The new criteria also take into account the growing availability and importance of formal qualifications within the genealogy profession. The Board feels that anyone setting out to become a professional genealogist with genuine commitment should already have, or be actively studying towards, a qualification in genealogy; this has therefore been made part of the minimum requirement for acceptance into the Associate scheme. Membership candidates who hold certain higher level qualifications, currently from IHGS (the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies) and Strathclyde University, will have the added advantage of being exempt from some of the entrance criteria.

In recognition of the importance of ongoing learning within this fast-changing profession, all candidates will be expected to provide evidence that they are engaging in continuing professional development.

These changes will ensure that AGRA Membership remains a hallmark of quality for professional genealogists practising in England & Wales, and that the Associate scheme attracts committed and able candidates with the potential to progress to Membership.

The new criteria take effect from 1st September 2014. Documents describing the new criteria in detail can be found by following the “membership application” link on the Join AGRA page of the website: www.AGRA.org.uk.

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