Historian Career

historian-500If you’re interested in history, then a career as a historian may be a good match for you. Historians study documents and other historical sources like diaries, videos and photographs. They then analyze and interpret what they’ve found. They share these findings through lectures, articles, museum exhibits and other means of presentation.

Historians are employed by a variety of public and private companies and institutions. Some historians work for nonprofits and others work for government agencies. The job usually requires an advanced education. Historians should be good observers and researchers. Good oral and written communication skills are also helpful in this career.

Historian Career Snapshot

Historians are generally employed by historical societies, universities, historical museums and sometimes even consulting firms. While a lot of work is done in an office or museum setting, some historians may be required to travel to historical sites to research and conduct interviews.

Further details on a career as a historian are listed below (statistics from the May 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average yearly salary for historians.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a Master’s degree while 20% have a Bachelor’s degree.

Historian Job Duties

Historians collect archival information, conduct surveys of historical documents, conduct research and prepare reports and other presentations. A large portion of the historian’s job usually involves written communication, so it would be helpful to enjoy writing if you decide to become a historian. Often, historians are asked to make presentations to the public about their findings, so being comfortable with public speaking would also be a helpful skill to be successful in this career.

Historian Job Outlook

In 2014, about 3,500 people in the United States held jobs as historians. That number is expected to grow by 2%, or 100 jobs, by the year 2024.

Historian Salaries

Salaries for historians vary according to where the historian is employed. On the low salary end, historians can expect to make about $27,920 a year, while those in higher positions can make up to $101,880 annually as shown by BLS.gov reports in 2015. If you were to decide to become a historian, you could expect an average salary of about $55,800 per year.

Historian Education

The majority of historian positions require a master’s degree. Some positions may even require you to have a doctorate. While you can work in the field of history with a bachelor’s degree, most of those positions are entry level and outside the scope of a historian’s duties.

Historian Skills & Traits

Historian Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Historians:Typical Work Activities:
• Reading Comprehension
• Critical Thinking
• Active Listening
• Writing
• Speaking
• Written Comprehension
• Written Expression
• Oral Comprehension
• Oral Expression
• Inductive Reasoning
• Assistive listening devices
• Microfiche or microfilm viewers
• Laptop computers
• Photocopying equipment
• Data input scanners
• Getting Information
• Interpreting the Meaning of Information
• Creative Thinking
• Documenting Information
• Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events

Related Careers

If a career as a historian doesn’t sound quite right to you, here are a few other similar careers you may want to review:

What Do Related Careers Pay?

Of the related careers, postsecondary teachers and geographers pay substantially more than historians. Curators earn slightly less than historians. Take a look at median salaries for the related occupations in the chart below: