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What is a Historian?

Occupation Description Research, analyze, record, and interpret the past as recorded in sources, such as government and institutional records, newspapers and other periodicals, photographs, interviews, films, electronic media, and unpublished manuscripts, such as personal diaries and letters.

Life As a Historian

  • Conduct historical research, and publish or present findings and theories.
  • Interview people to gather information about historical events and to record oral histories.
  • Determine which topics to research, or pursue research topics specified by clients or employers.
  • Present historical accounts in terms of individuals or social, ethnic, political, economic, or geographic groupings.
  • Gather historical data from sources such as archives, court records, diaries, news files, and photographs, as well as collect data sources such as books, pamphlets, and periodicals.
  • Speak to various groups, organizations, and clubs to promote the aims and activities of historical societies.

Things a Historian Should Know How to Do

Historians state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Historic Interpreter
  • Historiographer
  • Programs Director
  • Genealogist Researcher
  • County Historian

What Kind of Historian Job Opportunities Are There?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 3,300 jobs in the United States for Historian. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 6.1% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 200 new jobs for Historian by 2026. The BLS estimates 300 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Historian are South Carolina, Utah, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in New Jersey, Wisconsin, or Washington. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Historians Make A Lot Of Money?

The typical yearly salary for Historians is somewhere between $29,270 and $110,670.

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Historians who work in District of Columbia, Colorado, or California, make the highest salaries.

How much do Historians make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $67,870
California $88,770
Colorado $79,100
District of Columbia $107,440
Florida $60,510
Georgia $67,000
Illinois $64,050
Kentucky $50,270
Maryland $76,300
Massachusetts $69,300
Michigan $63,170
Mississippi $41,090
Missouri $49,740
Nebraska $63,690
New Jersey $76,320
New Mexico $71,800
New York $32,640
North Carolina $68,840
Ohio $74,090
Oklahoma $58,900
Pennsylvania $63,590
Texas $66,170
Utah $70,310
Virginia $80,480
Washington $74,530

What Tools do Historians Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Historians:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
  • Structured query language SQL
  • Extensible markup language XML
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • QuarkXPress
  • Statistical analysis software
  • Scanning software
  • Text mining software
  • Audio editing software
  • Digital mapping software

Becoming a Historian

What kind of Historian requirements are there?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Who Employs Historians?

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Below are examples of industries where Historians work:

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References:

Image Credit: Abraham Ortelius via public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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