How to Become a Historian

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


History carries great significance, whether it is history on a global or an individual scale. Many people have an interest in learning about events of the past, which may be significant to a large group of people, or so esoteric as to be important to a very few. The preservation and study of artifacts and details of people, places or things in specific time periods so that present and future generations gain understanding is the focus of the historian.

What does a historian do?

Historians study the recent as well as the distant past and specialize in researching and drawing conclusions about certain elements of past human existence. They generally direct their focus toward a specific subject, time period, region, or nation. Historians conduct their research by using preserved information sources that include photographs, films, newspaper articles, letters, and institutional or government records. They may focus on a variety of aspects in historical life such as political, cultural, social, or intellectual events. Historians can also aid in the preservation of buildings, materials, and artifacts that represent noteworthy moments of the past.

Historians are usually employed by historical societies, universities, government agencies or museums, and can work alone or as part of a larger research team. Most of their work is conducted in an office setting, though they occasionally will travel to a specific destination for the purpose of study and analysis. Click here to find out how to become a historian.

What kind of training does a historian need?

A degree in history at the master or doctorate level is usually required for historian careers. A career as a historian requires a firm knowledge of statistics and mathematics that is applied to various research techniques. Computers and other modern tools are also frequently used by historians.

Field experience and internships are valuable to those who are preparing for employment as a historian. Students can learn to how interpret and record events at historical sites by participating in programs that are offered by archaeological field schools. Click here for a list of online programs to get an online history degree.

What are the prospects for a career as a historian?

Employment prospects for historian jobs are projected to grow at an average rate for all industries. In 2012, 3,400 people were employed as historians, and in 2016, that number should reach 3,700. Some of the specialized opportunities for historians involve consulting at historically significant sites, studying records at educational institutions and government agencies, as well as preservation societies. 

How much do historians make?

Historian salary on average is $50,790. Entry-level positions for recent history degree graduates begin around $24,650 per year, while those with more experience and supervisory responsibilities earn up to $93,930 annually.

A historian career is ideal for a person who has passion for and an intellectual curiosity of historical milestones in the past and the ways in which they have affected modern society and culture. Click here for a list of online history degree programs.

Becoming a Historian Requires Skills & Training Start Today

Want to know what the 10 top liberal arts schools are?

Are you serious about becoming a Historian? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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