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Become a Historian
Historians research, analyze and interpret the past using data from various sources, including newspapers, archives, film, photos and letters. Some historians perform research and interpretation in colleges or universities as history professors, while others work in museums, government agencies or other settings. Travel, weekend, and evening work may be required, depending upon the career path chosen.
In order to become a historian, one is required to earn at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions and then attend graduate school for a master's or PhD, because the majority of positions for historians require an advanced degree.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree in History
Although many historians have at least a master's degree or even a PhD, one must hold a bachelor's degree in order to enter a graduate degree program in history. Individuals who choose to end their education after earning a bachelor's degree could find that many careers for historians require an advanced degree. Those with only a bachelor's degree in history usually end up working in entry-level positions, or other fields.
One career possibility involves pursuing certification as a high school history teacher. All individuals who plan to become K-12 teachers in public schools are required to participate in their state's required preparation and coursework for certification. Additionally, some states require exams for individuals desiring certification. If a student decides to become a history teacher prior to or during undergraduate studies, he or she can complete certification requirements while earning the bachelor's degree.
Earn a Master's Degree or PhD
The majority of positions for fields such as public history, historical preservation, archival management or museum studies require a master's degree. An individual who wants to work as a history professor or perform research at the college level needs to earn a graduate degree. One can teach at a community college with a master's degree, but a PhD is required to be eligible for a tenure-track position at a university.
Individuals who opt to attend graduate school, especially at the doctoral level, often narrow their focus to a particular geographical, cultural or time frame in history. Areas in which one can specialize are almost endless. In addition to history staples, such as American and European history, one may find diverse areas of specialty, including Jewish history, world history and diplomatic history, to mention just a few.
After finishing graduate school, potential historians may be able to find work through the university they attended. If no positions are available, career services can help interested candidates locate opportunities at another university, museums, or government institutions. New graduates may also find careers through searching online job listings.
Learning, for a historian, does not end with the acquisition of a graduate degree. Many occupations within this field require their historians to publish documents in their area of expertise, so attending lectures, visiting museums, and personal research are paramount for distinguishing oneself in their field. Doing so may allows a historian to contribute their personal perspective to the historical annals of time.