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Become A Historian

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Working As A Historian

  • Getting Information
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Historian Do

Historians research, analyze, interpret, and present the past by studying historical documents and sources.

Duties

Historians typically do the following:

  • Gather historical data from various sources, including archives, books, and artifacts
  • Analyze and interpret historical information to determine its authenticity and significance
  • Trace historical developments in a particular field
  • Engage with the public through educational programs and presentations
  • Archive or preserve materials and artifacts in museums, visitor centers, and historic sites
  • Provide advice or guidance on historical topics and preservation issues
  • Write reports, articles, and books on findings and theories

Historians conduct research and analysis for governments, businesses, nonprofits, historical associations, and other organizations. They use a variety of sources in their work, including government and institutional records, newspapers, photographs, interviews, films, and unpublished manuscripts, such as personal diaries, letters, and other primary documents. They also may process, catalog, and archive these documents and artifacts.

Many historians present and interpret history in order to inform or build upon public knowledge of past events. They often trace and build a historical profile of a particular person, area, idea, organization, or event. Once their research is complete, they present their findings through articles, books, reports, exhibits, websites, and educational programs.

In government, some historians conduct research to provide historical context for current policy issues. For example, they may research the history of Social Security as background for a new bill or upcoming funding debate. Many write about the history of a particular government agency, activity, or program, such as a military operation or the space program.

In historical associations, historians preserve artifacts and explain the historical significance of a wide variety of subjects, such as historic buildings, religious groups, and battlegrounds.

Historians who work for businesses may examine historical evidence for legal cases and regulatory matters.

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

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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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Do you work as a Historian?

Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$170,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
GEI Consultants
Highest Paying City
Norman, OK
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
1.7 years
How much does a Historian make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Historian in the United States is $81,287 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $170,000.

Real Historian Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Historians Middle East Forum Philadelphia, PA Sep 11, 2012 $100,000
OLD Restoration and Design Historian Sanford Kendall, Old House Restoration Nantucket, MA Oct 01, 2011 $80,000
OLD Restoration and Design Historian Sanford Kendall Nantucket, MA Oct 01, 2011 $80,000
Historians The Foundation for A Christian Civilization McLean, VA Aug 25, 2010 $64,501
Textile Historian The Detroit Institute of Arts Detroit, MI May 10, 2011 $60,625
Historians Columbia University New York, NY Jan 25, 2010 $55,000
Historian National Institute for Newman Studies Pittsburgh, PA Sep 24, 2015 $50,088
Historian/Archivist Disciples of Christ Historical Society Bethany, WV Jul 15, 2016 $47,200
Historian The Foundation for A Christian Civilization McLean, VA Jan 15, 2010 $44,158
Historian Historic House Trust of New York City New York, NY Nov 15, 2016 $39,549
Oral Historian Storyville Center for The Spoken Word DBA The Moth New York, NY Jan 20, 2009 $35,000

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How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Historian?

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Top Skills for A Historian

  1. Oral History Interviews
  2. Fraternity Events
  3. Alumni
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Contributed to the historical record by conducting and publishing oral history interviews with distinguished members and aerospace pioneers.
  • Raised awareness of fraternity events and connected alumni to current members of the organization.
  • Updated current fraternity newsletter and managed social media accounts with information pertaining to upcoming events and information for our alumni.
  • Developed and updated the first official chapter website and linked to university Greek life.
  • Take pictures of dancers at various swing dance events, edit them and post them on their group Facebook page.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Historians

  1. Colorado
  2. District of Columbia
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Kansas
  5. Indiana
  6. Vermont
  7. Hawaii
  8. Ohio
  9. Connecticut
  10. Rhode Island
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Historian Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 3,822 Historian resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Historian Resume

View Resume Examples

Historian Demographics

Gender

Female

52.6%

Male

35.4%

Unknown

12.0%
Ethnicity

White

56.6%

Hispanic or Latino

17.6%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

10.6%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.1%

French

12.5%

Chinese

7.0%

Mandarin

5.4%

German

4.6%

Italian

4.3%

Korean

3.8%

Cantonese

3.5%

Japanese

3.0%

Vietnamese

2.2%

Hindi

1.6%

Russian

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

Arabic

1.4%

Bengali

1.1%

Urdu

1.1%

Greek

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Gujarati

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%
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Historian Education

Schools

University of Florida

11.1%

University of Texas at Austin

8.8%

Florida State University

8.8%

Texas A&M University

5.8%

Texas State University

5.5%

University of South Florida

5.1%

University of North Texas

4.7%

University of Connecticut

4.5%

University of Houston

4.5%

University of California - Riverside

4.1%

George Mason University

4.1%

University of Georgia

4.1%

West Virginia University

3.9%

Purdue University

3.9%

Oklahoma State University

3.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.5%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.5%

Pennsylvania State University

3.5%

University of Central Florida

3.5%

Florida International University

3.5%
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Majors

History

13.8%

Business

12.8%

Psychology

10.4%

Communication

8.1%

Biology

7.7%

Political Science

5.2%

Marketing

4.8%

English

3.9%

Public Relations

3.6%

Nursing

3.4%

Sociology

3.4%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Fine Arts

2.8%

Management

2.8%

Accounting

2.7%

Economics

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Pharmacy

2.3%

Kinesiology

2.2%

Finance

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

63.6%

Other

13.6%

Masters

13.5%

Doctorate

4.0%

Associate

3.3%

Certificate

1.5%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.1%
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Top Historian Employers

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