How to Become a historian: All you need to know

The first step in choosing historian career is to make sure you really want it and that no one wants to waste time on something they don't like. If so, get to know the job, including its content, pros and cons, salary, etc.

Historians study the past in order to analyze patterns and provide new and useful data to businesses, governments, historical associations, non-profit organizations and other organizations. In this article we will provide some useful tips for becoming a historian.

Step1: Understand historian description and responsibilities

Historians are scholars and researchers who study past events. Their main responsibilities include obtaining historical data from libraries, archives and cultural relics, determining the authenticity of historical data, and conducting teaching or research in universities. Historians are responsible for determining the authenticity of historical data, preserving cultural relics and important documents in museums or libraries, studying the history of social, cultural and economic intersection, and other responsibilities.

In addition, historians need to participate in public exhibitions or conferences, which requires them to have good communication skills.

1) Organize the data, analyze and explain the authenticity and relative significance of the data.

2) Collect historical data from archives, court records, diaries, news archives, photos and other sources, and collect data from books, brochures, periodicals and other sources.

3) Trace the historical development of a particular field, such as social, cultural, political, or diplomatic history.

4) Historical research is carried out to provide basis for identification, protection and reconstruction of historical sites and materials.

5) Teaching and research in colleges, universities, museums and other research institutions and schools.

Step 2: Think before you do: whether is it worth to be a historian?

Before you step into the field, think whether is it worth to be a historian.


-The job market is healthy. Graduates with a recent PhD in history will be on the fast track to high-end positions.

-Time investment is high, but tuition is low. Although it may take six to seven years to complete such a degree, majority of students will pay most of their fees through university grants and tuition support. This may depend on their successful completion of the project, and there may be time constraints, but it allows them to earn a respectable degree in research and academia at a relatively low cost.


- Time is precious. If students do not complete the corresponding degree program, the time they spend on any doctoral program will be wasted. This will not only cost you valuable work experience and income, but also the degree itself.

-There is a fierce competition for jobs in academia. Even if you get the job, you have to get tenure like everyone else.

Step 3: Research Best colleges and universities for historian

1. Southern New Hampshire University

2. University of Chicago

3. Harvard University

4. Yale University

5. Duke University

6. University of California

7. University of British Columbia

8. New York University

9. University of Toronto

10. University of Amsterdam

11. Cornell University

12. Northwestern University

13. University of Washington

14. Columbia University

15. University of Minnesota

16. University of North Carolina

17. Ohio State University (Main campus)

18. University of California, Davis

19. University of Melbourne

20. University of Groningen

Step 4: Getting a historian education

A university degree in history or related subjects is indispensable. If you majored in history at the undergraduate level is the best, but a degree in English, legal research or other fields of humanities or social sciences will also be useful. You need a bachelor's degree at least. Entering a good university and getting high marks will also make the transition to graduate school or real-world work easier for you.

If you choose a major other than history, be sure to schedule some history courses on your schedule anyway. It is particularly important to sign up for some courses and you will have the opportunity to use materials from other times for research. Plan your course to make sure you will be with the same professor many times before your senior year. This makes it easier for them to write convincing references to you.

Step 5: Complete an Internship

  1. Trainee historians can provide valuable skills and experience for anyone wishing to start a career as a historian. Internships can take place at any level, including high school, college and professional. Whatever your internship level, you won't regret the opportunity. The following steps will show you how to get your dream historian internship: Decide whether you want to be a historian.
  2. Determine if you want to start an internship during college, during the summer, or upon graduation. Graduate internships are available, usually in university graduate assistant programs or professional programs.
  3. If you want to complete an internship in high school or college, please meet with them. Explain your career goals, why you chose them, and what school or college you're attending.
  4. Make your internship your job.
  5. Recognize the wealth of knowledge you're gaining. Most high school and college internships pay little or nothing, unless they are considered scholarship work. Graduate and professional internships are usually paid, but not full-time. The purpose of an internship is to gain experience, not to get paid.
  6. Make the most of your experience as much as you can. The experience you gain from your internship can be used for many years to come.

Step 6: Prepare relevant skills for historian

-Analytical skills: Historians must be able to study various types of historical resources and draw clear and logical conclusions based on their findings.

-Communication skills: Historians must communicate effectively when collecting information, working with colleagues, and presenting their research results to the public through written documents and briefs.

-Foreign language skills: Historians may need to review non English sources. This makes knowledge of other languages useful in research.

-Ability to solve problems: Historians try to answer questions about the past. They may investigate unknown things about past thoughts, events or people; interpret historical information; or confirm how the past affects the present.

-Research skills: Historians must be able to examine and process information from a wide range of historical resources, including documents, images, and material artifacts.

-Reliability skills: Clients must be able to count on you to show up on time for walks.

-Physical strength and stamina: You must be able to handle larger dogs if needed, and keep control of a leash if a dog pulls. You must also be able to be on your feet and walk for at least 30 minutes at a time.

Step 7: Find relevant historian jobs, and apply for it.

Read some requirements on historian jobs that can help you understand the skills and demands needed. In this way, you can compensate for your shortcomings and improve your advantages. If you are ready to become a historian, you may want to know where to find a relevant job. Now we provide you with a website where you can search for the job you want, you can click on it:

Important Tools for a successful historian

- Personal interview. Historians use old interviews as their main source of information, but they also create their own new interviews. New interviews are a valuable tool for insight into controversial or documented adverse events.

-Books. Books are an important research tool for historians because they extract a large amount of information into manageable parts. A good historian may be able to compress thousands of sources into a readable book. For example, a good book on ecology can help historians understand how agricultural pollution led to the decline of a civilization's history.

-Main sources. The main source is to help clarify the original documents or artifacts of an era. Raw materials include diaries, brochures, eyewitness descriptions, photographs, fabrics and manuscripts. Whenever possible, historians use first-hand information to describe history as accurately as possible. The original data may reveal some aspects of previously neglected events or provide new explanations for the data.

-Academic journals. Scholars publish their findings in academic journals, and their peers can read and analyze their findings, which helps to prevent the inclusion of inaccurate or inappropriate research.

Develop your career path

A bachelor's degree in history may be sufficient to earn entry-level historian positions in museums and historical societies, especially if the candidate has practical experience working, interning or volunteering in historical societies, museums, non-profit organizations or government agencies. However, according to BLS, most job seekers with only a bachelor's degree devote their historical knowledge to education, law, journalism and business.

After completing graduate studies, potential historians may find jobs through the universities they attend. If there are no vacancies, career services can help interested candidates find opportunities at another university, museum or government agency. Fresh graduates can also find jobs by searching online job lists.