What Do Historians Do?
In order to make sense of the past, society depends on historians to research, analyze and interpret history through a number of records and sources. They may go through newspapers, photographs or government records in order to discover valuable information. With all this material in hand, historians get a better sense of how the country operated in the past and if it offers any information on how society should behave now. Current trends indicate that there are going to be around 80 job openings for historians every year for the next decade. That correlates to about 6% growth. Historians tend to be employed by the government at either the local, state or federal level, so you should look into information about your specific state to see if it is a good place to be.
Historians Skills and Abilities
Naturally, historians need to possess an in-depth understanding of the past, which includes knowing about numerous civilizations and historical events. A bunch of clerical work is also required in this line of work, so you should be familiar with various administrative principles to ensure everything gets maintained and recorded properly. Analytical skills are crucial in this line of work because it is more than just reading a lot of old papers. You also need to understand what the material means and signifies. Generally speaking, oral and written comprehension skills are vital to do your job successfully.
In addition to the basic tasks already described, there are numerous other responsibilities historians must carry out. They are in charge of analyzing materials to determine authenticity. If substantial findings are discovered, then the historian will need to present these finding in a group setting. A historian may be employed by a historical society, and as a result, he or she will need to speak to various organizations in order to raise funds and promote activities. Writing articles to be published is another big duty of the job. Some of the other tasks you should be ready to handle include:
- Preparing materials to be displayed in a museum.
- Instructing students.
- Translating materials.
- Editing historical publications.
- Serving as a consultant.
Historians Tools and Technology
There are various kinds of software a historian should be proficient in using. You should know how to use information retrieval, data mining and statistical analysis software to help you with your work. Additionally, you should know how to use digital voice recorders, microfilm viewers and analog-to-digital converters.
Education and Training for Historians
Most historians hold either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. There really is no way to get a position in this field without a college education. There are numerous specified fields you can go into, so while you are in college, you should take courses that are related to what you want to do. Some of the fields you can specialize in include:
- Ancient Studies
- Military History
- European History
- American History
- Historic Preservation
- Medieval Studies
There are plenty of other fields you can study, and you should select something that is of great interest for you.
Depending on where exactly a historian is employed, the salary can vary quite a bit. The low end of the scale is $27,600 a year while higher-paid historians can make as much as $101,600 annually. Again, it all depends on your exact situation, but the median annual salary is around $55,900.
Historians Jobs by Geography
The areas of the country with the highest employment levels for historians are New York, California and the District of Columbia. This is because the industries that hire historians the most are local, federal and state governments. It takes a lot of work to become a reputable historian, but it is well worth it in the long run.