What is a Historian

If you love spending the day with your nose in books or go into raptures when you visit historical sites, the career of a his/her torian might be for you. As a his/her torian, you would spend your days researching and interpreting the past. You could study many different fields, from military history to the history of cartoons.

You could also work in a variety of places. Most people know that his/her torians can go on to teach history, but did you know that you could also work as a his/her torian for the government or for a corporation? Some businesses hire his/her torians to research and record the history of the company or find a historical basis for legal matters. You could also do hands-on work at a museum or historical site.

Becoming a his/her torian is not as easy as checking out all the books on your favorite historical topic from the library. You would probably need to get a bachelor's degree, and if your goal is to become a university professor, you would need a master's or Ph.D. But the chances are that the idea of studying history for years sounds like a dream come true.

What Does a Historian Do

Historians research, analyze, interpret, and present the past by studying historical documents and sources.

Learn more about what a Historian does

How To Become a Historian

Although most historian positions require a master’s degree, some research positions require a doctoral degree. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree may qualify for some entry-level positions, but most will not be traditional historian jobs.

Education

Historians need a master’s degree or Ph.D. for most positions. Many historians have a master’s degree in history or public history. Others complete degrees in related fields, such as museum studies, historical preservation, or archival management.

In addition to coursework, most master’s programs in public history and similar fields require an internship as part of the curriculum. Internships offer an opportunity for students to learn practical skills, such as handling and preserving artifacts and creating exhibits. They also give students an opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in a hands-on setting.

Research positions within the federal government and positions in academia typically require a Ph.D. Students in history Ph.D. programs usually concentrate in a specific area of history. Possible specializations include a particular country or region, period, or field, such as social, political, or cultural history.

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in history may qualify for entry-level positions at museums, historical associations, or other small organizations. However, most bachelor’s degree holders usually work outside of traditional historian jobs—for example, jobs in education, communications, law, business, publishing, or journalism.

Many people with an educational background in history become high school teachers or postsecondary teachers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Historians must be able to examine various types of historical resources and draw logical conclusions based on their findings.

Communication skills. Historians must communicate effectively when collaborating with colleagues and when presenting their research to the public.

Problem-solving skills. Historians try to answer questions about the past. They may investigate something unknown about a past idea, event, or person; decipher historical information; or identify how the past has affected the present.

Research skills. Historians must be able to examine and process information from a large number of historical resources, including documents, images, and material artifacts.

Writing skills. Writing skills are essential for historians as they often present their findings in reports, articles, and books.

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Average Salary
$73,477
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
147
Job Openings
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Historian Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Historian

Historians in America make an average salary of $73,477 per year or $35 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $163,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $32,000 per year.
Average Salary
$73,477
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5 Historian Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Historian Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Historian resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Historian Resume Examples And Templates

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Choose From 10+ Customizable Historian Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Historian templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Historian resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Historian Resume
Historian Resume
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Historian Resume
Historian Resume
Historian Resume
Historian Resume
Historian Resume
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Historian Demographics

Historian Gender Statistics

female

59.3 %

male

40.7 %

Historian Ethnicity Statistics

White

68.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.6 %

Asian

8.3 %

Historian Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

43.1 %

French

12.5 %

Chinese

7.0 %
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Historian Education

Historian Majors

16.4 %
10.9 %

Historian Degrees

Bachelors

76.4 %

Masters

8.0 %

Associate

7.7 %

Top Colleges for Historians

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

6. Brown University

Providence, RI • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,466
Enrollment
6,752

7. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

8. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

9. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

10. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329
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Online Courses For Historian That You May Like

Film, Images & Historical Interpretation in the 20th Century: The Camera Never Lies
coursera

This course is a short taster on the topic of the use of Images, Film, and their use in historical interpretation in the 20th century. It is primarily provided for those who have a general interest in history that draws on photojournalism as primary evidence, and films based on historical events. Once you have completed this course we hope you will be equipped to: Appreciate the significance of photographs as historical evidence in the twentieth century. Understand the limitations of the medium,...

Tokyo Hillside, Tokyo Riverside: Exploring the Historical City
edX (Global)

In recent years, Tokyo became a global tourist destination as interest in the city increased in the lead-up to the planned 2020 Olympics. While the Olympic venues are concentrated in the city’s southwest and along the waterfront, Tokyo’s historical center and the roots of its urban culture are located in the northeast of the city, in an area stretching from Nihonbashi north through Kanda and Akihabara toward Ueno and Yanaka, and eastward to Asakusa. This area remains home to a wide range of...

Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction
coursera

A unique and exciting introduction to the genre and craft of historical fiction, for curious students, aspiring authors-anyone with a passion for the past. Read classics of the genre, encounter bestselling writers of historical fiction, and discover your own historical archive while interacting with a global community of interested readers...

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Top Skills For a Historian

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.7% of Historians listed Cultural Resources on their resume, but soft skills such as Foreign language skills and Research skills are important as well.

  • Cultural Resources, 14.7%
  • Historic Resources, 10.6%
  • Historical Research, 10.3%
  • Oral History Interviews, 8.5%
  • Historic Properties, 6.0%
  • Other Skills, 49.9%

Best States For a Historian

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Historian. The best states for people in this position are Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Historians make the most in Oregon with an average salary of $90,773. Whereas in Washington and Massachusetts, they would average $87,945 and $83,854, respectively. While Historians would only make an average of $83,788 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Oregon

Total Historian Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$172,000
Location Quotient:
2.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Washington

Total Historian Jobs:
3
Highest 10% Earn:
$165,000
Location Quotient:
2.02
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Rhode Island

Total Historian Jobs:
0
Highest 10% Earn:
$158,000
Location Quotient:
0
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Historians

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Top Historian Employers

Most Common Employers For Historian

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Historian SalaryAverage Salary
1$71,747
2$71,735
3$71,538
4$69,833
5$68,564
6$68,158