Historian: Employment Info & Requirements

Historians study the events, ideas, institutions, and individuals of the past to unearth information, answer questions, and uncover patterns that provide a historical context for understanding modern issues. Learn about the education requirements, salary and job outlook to see if you want to pursue this career.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American History
  • Ancient Studies
  • Asian History
  • Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • European History
  • Historic Preservation
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Museum Studies
  • Public History and Archival Administration

Career Definition of an Historian

Historians research, analyze, and interpret the past using all information available to them. Because the field of history is so vast, most specialize in particular time periods, countries, or regions, with many choosing to concentrate on sub-specialties such as the history of women, the history of science, or the history of farming. Historians are most commonly associated with the teaching profession. Seventy percent of all historians are employed by colleges and universities according to the American Historical Association, The balance work in elementary and high school education and serve as museum curators or archivists. A small minority work in government, nonprofit, or private sector positions.

Field of Education History as well as studies in the culture and language of your chosen specialty
Job Skills Enjoy sharing history with passion and objectivity, along with an aptitude for logical and methodical thinking
Median Salary (2015) $55,800 per year for all historians
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 2% job growth for all historians

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Although 'historian' can be used to describe both amateur and professional historians, it is reserved more recently for those who have acquired graduate degrees according to the American Historical Association, A bachelor's degree or lower may get you a job in historical research, although advancement opportunities will be severely limited. In addition to history, it's also important to take courses in the language and literature of your chosen specialty in order to immerse yourself in the subject. Classes in statistics are also very helpful since historians deal with large data sets, from both the past and present.

Skills Required

A love of history and the desire to share it with others are the most important characteristics an historian can possess. Perseverance and passion are necessary to excel as an historian. Additionally, an ability to think logically and methodically along with objectivity and an open mind are essential to arriving at new ways of seeing old happenings.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, projected opportunities for historians to grow slower than average, at 2%, between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, historians had median annual earnings of about $55,800 a year, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

More career choices for historians include:


These professionals research, edit, appraise and maintain historical documents and records. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is usually required, in fields such as library science or history. Average employment expansion of 7% was projected for these jobs by the BLS, from 2014-2024. In 2015, archivists earned an annual median salary of $50,250 according to the BLS.

Anthropologist and Archaeologist

At least a master's degree is required for most positions. These professionals study the development of humans through examining languages, remains and cultures. Slower than average job expansion of 4% was predicted by the BLS, during the 2014-2024 decade. In 2015, a median annual wage of $61,220 was reported by the BLS.

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Liberal Studies

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • BA: Liberal Studies
    • AA: Liberal Arts

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Bachelor of Arts in History for Secondary Education (ITL)

    What is your highest level of education?

    • General Studies, A.A.

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Social Studies

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your age?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?