How To Become A Historian

A historian collects historical data from books, artifacts and other sources and analyze them. You will get the chance to find out if the historical information you obtain is authentic. You will be giving advice to governments, businesses and other organizations on matters regarding preservation and historical issues. You will also get the chance to archive or preserve precious historical artifacts.

If you want to become a historian, you will need to be highly analytical since you will be deriving logical conclusions from the historical artifacts and documents you examine. You should also enjoy solving a good mystery now and then since the job can entail looking for answers to questions about the past. Outstanding research, writing and communication skills are also needed in this profession.

Why Become A Historian

There are a number of good reasons to become a historian but they don’t have anything to do with very lucrative pay or a rosy employment outlook. Rather, becoming a historian is a vocation. It’s a job that will give you the chance to do what you love and educate people at the same time. It provides you with that precious opportunity to preserve relics of the past so that future generations can still get to see them. As a historian, you become a guardian of the past and serve as a teacher to present generations.

Historian Work Environment

The government is the highest employer of historians. They work in museums, historical societies, archives, research organizations and nonprofit organizations. Salaried historians follow regular office hours, although those who are assigned in museums and other public places may be required to report on weekends or evenings. Travel may be required if they need to collect artifacts or documents or interview people in other states or countries.

Historian Salary

The mean annual wage of historians in May 2013 was $60,010 or a median wage of $26.53 per hour, according to the Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency reported in May 2012 that historians working for the federal government received the highest pay at $85,640. Those working for professional, scientific and technical services industries were paid $54,200 while those working for state and local governments only got $37,540.

Average Historian Annual Salary


The average annual salary for historians is $64,220 a year. Salaries start at $28,540 a year and go up to $107,330 a year.

Average Historian Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a historian is $30.88. Hourly wages are between $13.72 and $51.60 an hour.

Stats were based out of 3,060 employed historians in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Historians

Top Paying Cities For Historians

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Historian Career Outlook

From 2012 to 2022, the employment of historians is set to rise 6 percent which is slower than the average for all job types. What’s worse is that the federal government does not expect to hire historians in the coming decade. Employment of historians with the federal government will go down 12 percent in the coming decade. Historians will still be able to find work with research firms, historical societies and historical consulting companies.

Because of the strong competition for jobs, those that possess hands-on work experience and practical skills in exhibit design, fundraising and collections will have an edge. The work of historians may entail a lot of reading and scrutinizing of antiquated documents but it’s definitely not a boring profession for those who have an inherent love for history. The good thing about this profession is that the federal government is the highest employer of historians.

This means that historians who happen to get into the federal government can expect a stable job.

Historian Degree

A master’s degree in history or public history is often needed to become a historian. However, a doctoral degree is often required for historian positions requiring a good deal of research, especially those positions in the federal government. Those who only possess a bachelor’s degree in history may only work in entry-level posts but this will not strictly be historian positions. They may teach history in high school or hold other posts in the field of business, law or journalism.

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