I do think that the field of genealogy has shown a desire to draw distinctions within genealogy as to how each individual is practicing it. My offering to this discussion is to define three adjectives used with the term genealogist. They are not mutually exclusive adjectives.
A scholarly genealogist is one to endeavors to be careful in his or her research and writing, following genealogical standards and participating in continuing educational opportunities.
An avocational genealogist is one who follows it as a hobby. An avocational genealogist is unpaid. An avocational genealogist could well be a scholarly genealogist in his or her genealogy work. Newcomers to genealogy have many avenues open to them for learning and expanding their skills sets, from meetings of local societies to online training and educational resources (both free and paid) to college-level formal education.
A professional genealogist is one who is paid for his or her work in genealogy in any one of several roles, such as teaching, writing, blogging, hosting radio programs, doing client research, or lecturing. We all hope that professional genealogists are also scholarly genealogists and that they also continue to learn.
And, let me just say while on this topic, an embarrassment to us all is someone who plugs dates and locations into a form without engaging in a thoughtful process. I hesitate to add an adjective to the word genealogist in this case so that I won’t be quotable on the topic.
My point here is that scholarly genealogy is a goal for all of us, whether or not we are paid for our work. All too often as we begin the discussion about doing better genealogy, we get waylaid by the discussion about whether we can do great work without getting paid for it. We can also go astray when the discussion begins to engage on licensing or on scientific methodology.
Let us all meet each other – hobbyist and professional alike – under the banner of scholarly genealogists.