Difference Between Historian & Geographer

Historians study events that have occurred with a focus on people's beliefs and conduct. Geographers focus on the physical earth and how the actions of people or animals may have affected a specific region. Read on to compare these careers.

Comparing Historian to Geographer

Historians research all past events, including the history of social conduct. They may focus on areas that only involve human interaction, for example. Geographers may also be interested in human behavior in the past, but they are primarily concerned with the physical earth and how it is affected by the people or animals who live there.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Historian Master's Degree $55,110 2%
Geographer Bachelor's Degree $74,260 -2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Historian vs Geographer

Historians and geographers may both spend time traveling to conduct research. They may also review historic documents to inform their work. While historians specifically focus on history, their studies can include studying religious or philosophical changes over time and how those things affected society. Geographers are concerned specifically with the earth and the relationship it has with living organisms. For example, they may study how population growth has affected the environment, and their work may involve referring to censuses to track the growth in that area.


Historians usually need to have a master's degree, although a doctoral degree may increase employment opportunities for those in this field. Historians typically work Monday to Friday during the day, unless they work for a museum that has evening and weekend hours. They may travel when conducting research or to secure artifacts. Their focus is on researching past events.

Job responsibilities of a historian include:

  • Read historic texts
  • Verify that historic materials are genuine
  • Research specific topics, such as the history of a political philosophy
  • Use research to inform conclusions about their research
  • Present their conclusions in writing


Geographers do research concerning the Earth. Their work isn't limited to the geological features of the earth, however. They also consider how human or animal activities affect the earth, and vice versa. They travel frequently to locations relevant to their studies. A bachelor's degree in geography is the standard requirement to start out in this field, but those interested in advancing to senior positions may need a master's degree.

Job responsibilities of a geographer include:

  • Gather data relevant to study
  • Identify and implement relevant research strategies, such as surveys
  • Study maps and other materials, such as census records
  • Determine how specific events may have impacted the earth
  • Assess how a region will be affected by development
  • Produce maps

Related Careers

Aspiring historians who are also interested in politics may opt to focus on a career as a political scientist, since they also research political philosophies and policies. A career with some similarities to a geographer is that of a cartographer, since they also study the earth and make maps.

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