Careers in History


Looking for an entry level job or internship in history? This is an overview of how to approach the search and a list of companies that might have relevant entry level and internship opportunities.

Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson, is a national historic landmark just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Like any home, its interior design reflects the personal ideals of its owner; for example, Jefferson considered furniture to be a waste of space, so the dining room table was only put up during mealtimes and the beds were built into alcoves cut into thick walls that contained storage space. Since 1923 the estate has been owned and operated as a museum and educational institution by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. The preservation of this home was only possible with the work of Historians. Historians piece information together into a picture of what places were like during an era of the past.

History Careers

Photo Credit: Flickr user Southern Foodways Alliance

History Career Guide Overview

  1. What a Historian Does
  2. A Typical Day for a Historian
  3. Salary and Career Progression for a Historian
  4. Best Locations for Historians
  5. Pros and Cons of Being a Historian
  6. What You Need to Know for a Career in History
  7. History Resources
  8. Careers Related to History
  9. Companies with Jobs and Internships in History

What a Historian Does

A Historian studies and writes about the past. They are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. To accomplish this they are trained to analyze tons of information in sources such as government and institutional records, newspapers, photographs, interviews, and films, and make use of statistical methods and computerized data. Some historians, commonly called Archivists, collect historical documents and objects for museums, special libraries, historical societies, and other organizations to prepare exhibits and organize materials. Other historians are involved in the preservation of historic buildings and working for government agencies or historical societies. Historians also edit history textbooks and magazines for publishing firms. In the world of media, they can serve as consultants for radio, television, and film producers.

A Typical Day for a Historian

Historians spend most of their time in offices, classrooms, and libraries. While their hours are flexible, they often work more than forty hours per week. Some typical tasks include:

  • Reading court records, books, photographs, diaries, letters, government documents, census data and news files
  • Interviewing people
  • Listening to tape-recorded interviews of visitors and city residents
  • Studying the history of a particular city
  • Hunting down old maps, pictures and photographs, election returns, tax lists, census records, and city directories
  • Reading many issues of old newspapers
  • Viewing films of city events
  • Reading letters or diaries of individuals who wrote in or about the city
  • Looking at the records of the cities churches and temples
  • Compiling their findings in books or articles
  • Presenting findings to students, groups of historians, or other people
  • Teaching

Salary and Career Progression for a Historian

A Historian’s salary is around $44,490 per year, but can range between $25,108-$107,134. Most historians advance by increasing their skills and publishing books and articles to win the recognition of other scholars.

Best Locations for Historians

Here are some great locations for historians to work:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Austin, Texas
  • Annapolis, Maryland
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Washington, District of Columbia
  • New York, New York
  • Richmond, Virginia

Pros and Cons of Being a Copywriter

  • Hunting for answers to historical questions can be fun and challenging
  • Exploring a particular area in depth is interesting
  • Relaxed environment
  • Low pay
  • The job market is growing worse

What You Need to Know for a Career in History

To be a Historian you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in History and typically a Masters or Ph.D. as well (as universities now generally require a Ph.D. for new full-time hires and a Masters degree for part-timers). In addition you should take courses in the language and literature of the area and period you plan to specialize in. You may also want to take courses in statistics. Regardless of your education, you’ll need to be detail-oriented, patient, organized, and have excellent communication skills to work well with other historians, students, and the public. Historians must also be able to focus for long hours while reading and studying.

History Resources

If history still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.

Required Reading

Key Folks to Follow on Twitter

Blogs and Websites

Networking Opportunities

Job Search Resources

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Companies with Entry Level Jobs and Internships in History

Detour Logo

Detour - Detour is a San Francisco, CA based company that set out to offer “immersive, location-aware audio walks” and completely knocked it out of the park.

See the complete Detour profile

The Bostonian Society Logo

The Bostonian Society - The Bostonian Society is a Boston, MA based non-profit that “is dedicated to studying, and preserving Boston’s uniquely important history.

See the complete The Bostonian Society profile

Textile Society of America Logo

Textile Society of America - Textile Society of America is a Berkeley, CA non-profit that “provides an international forum for the exchange and dissemination of information about textiles worldwide."

See the complete Textile Society of America profile

Old Sturbridge Village Logo

Old Sturbridge Village - Old Sturbridge Village is the “largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast” and it “depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s.”

See the complete Old Sturbridge Village profile

Museum Hack Logo

Museum Hack - Museum Hack is a New York, NY based upstart that developed a “tour to turn one of New York’s most spectacular cultural institutions into a totally unique experience.”

See the complete Museum Hack profile

Handel and Haydn Society Logo

Handel and Haydn Society - Handel and Haydn Society is a Boston, MA based non-profit that is coming up on 200 years of excellence “in the field of Historically Informed Performance.”

See the complete Handel and Haydn Society profile

Chicago Architecture Foundation Logo

Chicago Architecture Foundation - Chicago Architecture Foundation is a non-profit organization that is “devoted to celebrating and promoting Chicago as a center of architectural innovation.”

See the complete Chicago Architecture Foundation profile

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Logo

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum - The NYC based Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum promotes “the awareness and understanding of history, science and service" through collections and exhibitions.

See the complete Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum profile

Museum of the City of New York Logo

Museum of the City of New York - The Museum of the City of New York is a private, not-for-profit, educational institution founded in 1923 for the purpose of presenting the history of New York City.

See the complete Museum of the City of New York profile

United States Capitol Historical Society Logo

United States Capitol Historical Society - The United States Capitol Historical Society was “chartered by Congress to educate the public on the history and heritage of the U.S. Capitol building."

See the complete United States Capitol Historical Society profile

Historic New England Logo

Historic New England - Historic New England is a non-profit that works to preserve and promote the appreciation of New England's history.

See the complete Historic New England profile

Gooru Logo

Gooru - Gooru is a Palo Alto, CA based non-profit that is “organizing free, online education resources into searchable collections" available online.

See the complete Gooru profile

Ancestry Logo - is a Provo, UT based company that helps people trace their genealogy and family history, and they have some great job opportunities.

See the complete profile

Martha's Vineyard Museum Logo

Martha’s Vineyard Museum - The Martha's Vineyard Museum "is "dedicated to furthering an interest in the history and culture of the Island" and they're hiring.

See the complete Martha’s Vineyard Museum profile Logo - is a company that has built an art recommendation engine, and they're hiring for a number of really cool positions.

See the complete profile

Chemical Heritage Foundation Logo

Chemical Heritage Foundation - The Chemical Heritage Foundation is all about fostering "an understanding of chemistry’s impact on society," and they offer some exciting job opportunities.

See the complete Chemical Heritage Foundation profile

Chicago History Museum Logo

Chicago History Museum - If you find that Chicago history speaks to you, then you’ll want to take a look at the Chicago History Museum’s Jobs page.

See the complete Chicago History Museum profile

Internet Archive Logo

Internet Archive - If you think that preserving the history of the Internet is a noble cause, then a job with the Internet Archive might be a great fit for you.

See the complete Internet Archive profile

VOICES of September 11th Logo

VOICES of September 11th - VOICES of September 11th seems to continually adapt as the needs of people affected by September 11th change.

See the complete VOICES of September 11th profile

Nantucket Historical Association Logo

Nantucket Historical Association - If you love Nantucket's history, then a career with the Nantucket Historical Association might be exactly what you're looking for.

See the complete Nantucket Historical Association profile

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Logo

Lower East Side Tenement Museum - If you want to be part of sharing the history of the immigrants who built this country, then take a look at Jobs at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

See the complete Lower East Side Tenement Museum profile

Sapphos Environmental Logo

Sapphos Environmental - Sapphos Environmental is a Pasadena, CA based environmental consulting company that specializes in planning, resource management, and environmental compliance.

See the complete Sapphos Environmental profile

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Logo

Thomas Jefferson Foundation - If you don’t get lost in the excitement of reading up on Thomas Jefferson’s place in history, then a job at Monticello probably isn’t for you.

See the complete Thomas Jefferson Foundation profile

The Island School Logo

The Island School - If you’d like to spend some time in The Bahamas, you should check out The Island School’s Teaching positions along with their Teaching Fellowship Program.

See the complete The Island School profile

International Coalition of Sites of Conscience Logo

International Coalition of Sites of Conscience - If you're interested in the history of human rights and social justice, then you should check out Jobs at International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

See the complete International Coalition of Sites of Conscience profile

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

National September 11 Memorial & Museum - If you were greatly affected by 9/11, then you should browse through the open positions at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

See the complete National September 11 Memorial & Museum profile

Daughters of the American Revolution Logo

Daughters of the American Revolution - If you’re impressed by the DAR and want to be a part, you might have to check your bloodlines (and presumably your gender); or you could get a job with them.

See the complete Daughters of the American Revolution profile

National Archives - You can start learning about what it’s like to work at the National Archives by visiting their Careers page, and then you can check out their job listings.

See the complete National Archives profile

National Park Service - If you love Memorial Day as much as I do, then a job with the National Park Service might be something worth thinking about.

See the complete National Park Service profile

Shmoop - Shmoop\'s job listings aren’t typical of Silicon Valley startups. Beyond software developers they\'re also looking for English, Literature, and History majors.

See the complete Shmoop profile

The Museum of Modern Art - Quite a few of MoMA's job opportunities are well suited for new college grads - find one that you're a perfect fit for and blow them away with your cover letter

See the complete The Museum of Modern Art profile

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