A large percentage of historians are employed at colleges and universities, while others teach at the middle- or high-school level. Historians work in archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, nonprofit foundations, research councils, and large corporations. Others work for local, state, and the federal government. Historians employed by the federal government often work at the National Archives and the Departments of Defense, Interior, and State. Some historians work in politics or journalism or serve as consultants to radio, television, or film producers.
Historians interested in becoming teachers enter the field after completing at least a master's degree in history. At this time, they may apply for an instructor's position at a college or university or they may seek employment as a history teacher at a middle school or high school.
Historians who are interested in non-academic positions may learn about job leads through internships, professors, or from the career services office of their college or university. The American Historical Association also offers job listings to its student and professional members at its Web site. Many historians earn a doctorate before applying for nonteaching positions.
Historians advance in proportion to their level of education, experience, and personal skills as writers, researchers, or teachers. University teachers usually begin as instructors. The next step is assistant professor, then associate professor, and finally full rank as a professor.
Historians in noneducational settings advance as they gain experience and contribute to their work. Historians who have earned a doctorate already have a competitive edge over workers with lesser degrees and, therefore, enjoy stronger advancement opportunities.
Tips for Entry
Research or write a history, biography, or historical fiction to explore the roles and responsibilities of a historian.
Talk to your history teacher or a history professor at a nearby college to explore a career in the field of history and education.
Talk to historians at museums, historical sites, and archives to discover if this type of historical work might be for you.
Visit http://careers.historians.org/jobs and http://www.oah.org/career-coach for job listings.
Read the Journal of American History, The American Historian, and Process, the blog of the Organization of American Historians, to learn more about the field. Information on these resources is available at https://www.oah.org/publications.