Military History Career Options: Information and Requirements

Military history is generally offered as a graduate degree. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Military historians receive extensive education in a specific time and/or place in history. They may find employment as college professors, professional historians, military analysts, or they may also consult on creative projects that involve military history in some way.

Essential Information

Military history careers are vast and varied. The most common places one finds them are in academia and government, but there are other possibilities. Individuals versed in military history might write books or serve as advisors for war movies. Some military historians are active or reserve members of the U.S. Army and serve in military history detachments (MHDs). Other careers for those with an education in military history can range from museum work (as a curator or guide) to archival work to the management of historic sites such as battlegrounds. Teaching positions, historian jobs in the Army and analyst positions with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are three additional options.

Career Professor MHD Unit Member Military Analyst
Required Education Ph.D. Bachelor's Bachelor's
Other Requirements None Qualification course Medical, polygraph test
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 13%* (professors) 2%* (historians) None (military personnel)
Average Annual Salary (2014) $76,670* (history professors) $61,120* (historians) $18,802** (military personnel, private E1)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **U.S. Army

Military History Professor: Job Duties and Requirements

Professors employed at colleges or universities typically need a Ph.D., and some doctoral programs in history offer a military history specialization. In their dissertations, doctoral students might focus on one particular conflict, such as World War II, or they might study topics such as military preparedness, the history of the armed services in the U.S., national security or wartime presidential actions.

Once hired, professors will generally teach a broad sampling of history courses rather than courses strictly in military history, but military-related faculty specializations are not uncommon. The American Historical Society surveyed data on specializations from the more than 600 college or university history departments listed in its directory in 2005. It found that 35.2% of those history departments reported having at least one military history specialist among the faculty (www.historians.org).

Military History Unit Member: Job Duties and Requirements

The U.S. Army also employs military historians among its servicemen and servicewomen; these historians serve in units known as military history detachments (MHDs). Members of MHDs serve with larger divisions, such as infantry, and record data about military actions as they happen. In the field, these historians conduct interviews with personnel of all ranks, from privates to officers, to preserve first-hand accounts of combat and other maneuvers. They also collect data and hard documents (such as maps and photos) and track the lineage of Army units, including any honors and decorations they receive. The U.S. Army Center of Military History compiles the information gathered by MHDs.

MHD units might be active-duty, reserve or part of the National Guard. The requirements for members serving with tactical units include a special training course known as the Basic Combat Historian Qualification Course, according to Army Regulation 870-5 (www.apd.army.mil).

Military Analyst: Job Duties and Requirements

The CIA has made public job postings for the position of military analyst that list military history as a possible major for applicants. This position involves doing research and briefing policymakers on the findings. Candidates are required to pass medical and polygraph testing. Analysts examine the weapon systems and resources of other governments or organizations with the potential to wage war against the United States. They also consider sociopolitical issues related to war prevention, military-civilian relations, regional military issues and treaties (www.cia.gov).

Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't collect data for military historians specifically, it does provide information on historians in general. According to the BLS, the three industries that employed the most historians in 2015 were, in descending order, local, federal and state governments. In a governmental role, a military historian might conduct research about military actions; he or she might also advise officials on policy decisions. Similar to this, the industry that employed the fourth-most historians in 2015 was scientific research and development, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov). A military historian might be hired to consult on a book or film project about war, for example.

The BLS also reports that the employment of historians in general is expected to increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024, and that the employment of postsecondary professors in general will increase by 13% during the same time period. Historians can expect to earn an average salary of $61,120 per year, while postsecondary history professors can expect to earn an average of $76,670 per year, according to the BLS.

Military historians usually specialize in a particular part of military history. They usually possess a Ph.D. in history and can find employment as historians or professors. Some military historians may work for the government in the form of military analysts, though most work in an academic setting.

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