Share and Preserve History to Make a Difference for the Future

History tells us how we got where we are, provides a sense of identity and helps us intentionally shape the kind of future we want for ourselves, our community and our society. If you are the kind of person who gets lost in a good story and thrives on research, a bit of mystery and putting facts together, a career as a historian could be fulfilling and exciting. Many historians work in private or government settings that offer regular benefits, making it an effective career to pursue while raising a family.

Job Description

Historians gather and interpret historical data for historical associations, museums, businesses, nonprofits, community groups and more. They share their findings with individuals and communities in order to raise awareness about history. Many historians publish their findings in books or articles or on websites. Some historians are responsible for tending to archives and preserving historical artifacts. Other historians work as teachers or professors of history in order to continue the tradition and teach others to appreciate historical study.

Education Requirements

Earning a bachelor's degree in history could qualify you to work in entry level positions in the field, but most people need to earn a master's or doctoral degree to secure stable employment. Some people earn graduate degrees in general history, while others focus on specialized areas such as historical preservation, archival management, cultural history, social history or history of a certain time period.

Historians earn a median annual salary of $55,110, which breaks down to $26.49 per hour. This means that half of all historians earn more than this, while the other half earns less. The lowest 10 percent of historians earn less than $28,050, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $102,830.

History professors earn more than others in the field, with a median salary of $94,607, and a salary range of $73,332 to $196,125 per year. To become a history professor, you need to hold a doctoral degree, gain several years of experience in the field, establish yourself as an authority and be committed to regularly publishing academic pieces in books and journals.

About the Industry

One quarter of all historians work for local government, while just under a quarter work for federal government. The other half work for state government, in professional services, in private universities or are self-employed. Most historians work in an office during regular business hours, but some are self-employed and set their own hours, or they work for universities with flexible schedules and regular times off. Positions with flexible hours and benefits are especially good for those raising young families. Historians are sometimes required to travel in order to gather artifacts, attend conferences or conduct research.

Years of Experience

Historian salaries vary widely by place of employment and years of experience, but income does grow over time with experience. Entry level historians can expect to earn $28,496 - $68,466, while those with more experience earn $29,782 - $81,826 per year.

Should you decide to pursue a career as a historian in a professor position, income takes a leap, and you can expect a growing salary similar to this:

  • 1-4 Years: $79,048-$91,432
  • 5-6 Years: $80,001-$92,385
  • 7-9 Years: $80,636-$93,020
  • 10-14 Years: $82,541-$94,607
  • 15-19 Years: $86,034-$102,538
  • 20+ Years: $88,257-$108,090

Job Growth Trend

Demand for historians is expected to increase by five percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as for other occupations. With many more graduates than jobs, competition for positions is steep, so get a master's or doctoral-level degree and pursue internships to give you an edge over others competing for the same job. Make connections in the field in order to get your foot in the door when new positions become available.

Related Articles