When searching for an astrologer, it can be very hard to weed out the good from the fraud. The reality is that most of the astrologers you find online aren't actual astrologers, but people with pricey astrology software who input your birth data, press a few buttons, and out comes your astrology reading. While astrological software has its merits, it's wrong for someone to purchase a reading believing they're getting something unique to themselves. No matter how good astrology software is, it can't replace the actual astrologer, who can spot subtle nuances a computer can't. And hey, is it really fair to shell out $100 to someone for a reading when it only takes them less than five minutes to do it?
That being said, it's hard to find someone who is a true practitioner, so here are a few things to try:
1) Ask people you know for a personal reference if they've gotten a reading from someone and what their experience was. If it's someone you trust, there's no better place to start.
2) Once you've gotten a few astrologers picked out that you're interested in, contact them and ask if they can give you any references. Be warned though, that they could be giving you the name of a friend or family member who'd vouch for them no matter what, so choose your questions carefully. Two questions to ask that can give you a clue are "What is their turnaround time?" and "How long was the reading?" (For long readings, it should not be very fast, yet many of the astrological programs will be 25-50 pages - if you receive a reading that long that only took a few days, that's a clue. Readings should generally also vary in length from person to person, so if you notice that everyone you talk to had a reading the same length, that can be another clue. Make sure to ask these questions with tip #3 as well).
3) Join an online forum/message board/community focused on astrology or metaphysical pursuits and ask who people recommend and what their experiences were.
4) See if the astrologer has written books or articles on astrology, or if they have a blog where they talk about astrology. This can help show you whether or not they truly know and understand astrology.
5) Check if they're members of astrology associations. The big one in the U.S. is the American Federation of Astrologers (astrologers.com). They give extensive astrological exams in order to qualify as a student, teacher, or professional. It should be noted that there are many good astrologers not with them (in fact, many of the most well-known and successful are not), but it's a good resource.
Nic has been studying astrology for 7 1/2 years and has given nearly 1,000 readings. Find her site at http://www.fullmoonastrology.viviti.com, or follow her blog at http://www.fullmoonastrology.blogspot.com