How to Become a Historian
Historian Job Duties
Skills and Qualities To Become a Historian
Historian Salaries
Influential Historians
Leading Historian Organizations
Top Cities for Historian Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Historian

Historians generally have a high level of education, with many jobs requiring a PhD. For some entry-level jobs, such as a research assistant to a historian, a bachelor's degree may be sufficient, but an advanced degree is required for most historian jobs. A historian's degree is usually in history, or a specific area or era of history.

Many historians are required to publish a certain amount or quality of material before advancing in their field. This can be in the form of books, reports, or articles in historical journals. Some historians publish works while they are going to school and performing research for their degrees, while others wait until they have attained their degrees to perform the bulk of their research and writing.

What does a Historian do?

Historians not only study history, but also how the accomplishments and events in the past affect human societies and civilizations nowadays. Historians interpret and analyze historical events, often specializing in a certain time period, country, or area. Alternatively, a historian might specialize in a certain field such as political history, social history, cultural history, or diplomatic history. Some historians work directly with a particular historical site or building, to learn and teach about or work to preserve it.

There are many different sources of information that a historian may use, including diaries, letters, newspapers, government records, photographs, magazines, and films. Most historians tend to work at a desk and keep fairly regular hours, with common exceptions being near publishing deadlines. Travel may be necessary for historians, for meetings or research.

Many historians teach at various levels. Historians who hold teaching credentials may teach at a secondary school level - usually either United States history or world history in middle school or high school. Historians with a master's degree are able to teach at community colleges, where they can have more of a choice about what areas to focus on, and those holding a doctorate are able to teach at universities, often in the field or emphasis of their choice.

Other historians are able to work as applied historians; serving as consultants for preservation societies or various historical sites, or for various non-profit organizations.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Historian?

Historians need dedication and curiosity as they try to determine exactly what happened - and why - in a previous time. The ability to be logical and methodological as well as objective can be very helpful to a historian. Perseverance is another important quality in a historian, as historians sometimes work on specific projects for an extended period of time, with much of the research and other work being self-imposed and self-directed.

How much do Historians make?

The job outlook for historians is about average; with the field expected to grow by about 10 percent in the next decade. This is higher than many other subfields of the social sciences, which are expected to grow more slowly than average. Historians with advanced degrees tend to make much more money than those without advanced degrees, and those working as instructors may make a markedly different amount of money than those who are not in academia.

In 2006, the median yearly salary of historians in the United States was $48,520. Historians working for the Federal government made less than other historians. Experience makes a difference in pay, as does an advanced degree.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, is a professor of physiology and geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Diamond wanted to explore the reason for Eurasian dominance, and has been criticized by James Blaut, among others, for being too Eurocentric, and reviving the theory of Environmental Determinism, which states that the physical environment defines culture, not social conditions.

An ancient, but extremely influential, historian by the name of Flavius Josephus wrote about Judaism and the rise of Christianity in the first century. He recorded the life of Jesus, what Jesus' followers did, along with the activities of other first century Jews, and recorded the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Historical Association, or AHA, is a society of teachers of history and historians. It is the oldest society of its kind in the United States, founded in 1884. The AHA exists to promote the teaching of history, historical studies, and the access to and preservation of historical materials and sites. This American Historical Society publishes The American Historical Review, which includes book reviews and scholarly articles, five times a year. This is the main organization for historians working in the United States, while another organization, the Organization of American Historians, was created for historians around the world who study American History.

In addition to the AHA, most American states have their own historical societies which focus on the history and preservation of historical sites of the specific state.

What are the top cities for Historian jobs?

Because historians can be employed in such a wide variety of settings, it is hard to determine the top cities for historian jobs. However, when looked at as a whole, the best city for historians in the United States who are looking for a job is New York, New York, probably because New York has so much to offer in terms of museums, research institutions, and institutes of higher education. Houston, Texas is the second best city for historian jobs in the United States, with Chicago, Illinois coming in at third place. Los Angeles, California is the fourth best city for American historians looking for jobs. The fifth and sixth best cities for historian jobs in the United States are New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas, respectively. Areas that have a large population of older historians who are expected to retire will open up prospects for entering historians.

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