“Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian – ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art.“
Lytton Strachey, Critic
Pros and Cons of Working as a Historian
You think about becoming a historian? Make sure to check out the pros and cons of being a historian in this article first to avoid any issues that might come along with this career choice!
Historian Job Profile
|Job Description||Historians write and study about the past. They spend lots of time acquiring information about past events and try to conserve this information for future generations.|
|Salary||$74,000 per year on average, most historians make between $38,000 and $84,000 per year.|
|Job Security||Poor since historians will often not be employable in the corporate world.|
|Job Satisfaction||Good if you love history and want to spend many hours on research every day.|
|Work-Life Balance||Decent since you will have free evenings, weekends and holidays and also don’t have to work long hours as a historian.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Neither physically nor mentally demanding most of the time.|
|Future Outlook||Questionable since many jobs will vanish in this field sooner or later.|
|Requirements||You need a college degree for becoming a historian.|
Advantages of Working as a Historian
- Historians don’t have to work on weekends
- You have free evenings
- Historians enjoy pretty decent work-life balance
- Historians can work indoors
- Working as a historian is relatively relaxed
- You don’t have to work in a physical manner
- Historians can make decent money
- Teleworking may be possible
- You can turn your hobby into a profession
- You can start your own digital channels
Historians don’t have to work on weekends
One advantage of being a historian is that you don’t have to work on weekends. In fact, you will have a rather standard workweek and will often come home relatively early.
Consequently, while many other people have to work almost every day of the week and will have lots of work that needs to be finished in a rather short period of time, you can rather enjoy your leisure as a historian and can reload your batteries so that you are ready for the many challenges that still lie ahead of you.
You have free evenings
Not only will you be able to enjoy free weekends as a historian that you can use for making nice weekend trips with your family or friends, but you will also have many free evenings.
As a historian, you will simply not have to work during evenings or at nighttime.
Instead, you can rather use those times to meet up with your favorite people after work.
You could also just spend it on your hobbies or other things that you just enjoy more than working.
Historians enjoy pretty decent work-life balance
In general, most historians also report a pretty good work-life balance.
In fact, the majority of historians is pretty happy with the amount of leisure they have and some of them wish to work even more.
Consequently, becoming a historian can make quite a lot of sense for you in case you want to have sufficient time for your hobbies and your family and friends while you can still make decent money at the same time.
Historians can work indoors
As a historian, you will also have the privilege of working indoors.
While you might think that this is the norm right now, many people still have to work outdoors under extreme conditions.
For instance, roofers or construction workers still have to work, even though it might be quite cold or hot outside to finish projects for their clients.
Hence, while many other people out there have to freeze or sweat during work, you will have a rather easy time in this regard as a historian since you can just stay indoors and enjoy a nice coffee or tea at the same time.
You can also use our modern technological things like air conditioning or heating to make your working conditions even more convenient.
Working as a historian is relatively relaxed
Another upside to working as a historian is that you will just have quite a relaxed life. Sure, you may get annoyed by your colleagues from time to time.
Yet, compared to many other jobs out there, you will just not have the same stress level since you will often have lots of time to do your work.
Moreover, you will also not have a boss who will be looking over your shoulder all day long.
Instead, you can work rather independently and will have a high level of freedom regarding when and how you want to do your work as a historian.
You don’t have to work in a physical manner
As a historian, you will also not have to work in a physical manner.
While some people like hands-on work and really want to be physically challenged during their workday, many other people are just too lazy and rather want to work with their brains instead of their arms.
In such a case, a historian career can be great for you since you will just not have to lift heavy things all day long in contrast to construction workers or other people out there who really have to stress their bodies.
Not only will you have more energy left after work, but also your body will likely thank you for it in the long run and while many other people who have to work in a physically demanding manner will suffer from serious health issues, you will have a much lower risk as a historian in this regard.
Historians can make decent money
Another benefit of becoming a historian is that you can also make decent money from what you are doing.
Sure, not all historians will be able to get a high salary.
However, the average salary is pretty good compared to the low stress levels and the relatively short workweek historians often have.
Consequently, working as a historian can also be great for you if you want to earn sufficient money to cover your bills and to be able to afford some luxury while you still don’t want to work in leading corporate positions where you would have to deal with much more stress at work.
Teleworking may be possible
As a historian, you will also have to spend lots of time on research.
Thanks to our modern technologies, this research can often be carried out with a computer and you often just don’t have to go to the library in person anymore.
This also gives you the opportunity to work from home and to better manage your personal and your professional life at the same time.
You will also not have to spend significant amounts of money and time on commuting and can rather use this time to sleep longer or to do things for your private life instead.
You can turn your hobby into a profession
Many historians haven’t chosen their jobs due to the financial prospects that come along with it.
They became historians since they truly love what they are doing and have a real interest in this field.
Hence, if you are really passionate about history and want to spend many hours per day on it, becoming a historian can be a great career choice for you since your work will just not feel like work to you but rather like a hobby for which you even get paid for.
You can start your own digital channels
As a historian, you will also have the opportunity to start your own digital channels.
For instance, if you are really passionate about history, you could start an educational YouTube channel where you talk about history on a regular basis. You can also create a great resource for history students and teach history in a modern way.
Not only will you be able to provide information about ancient history, but you can also use your insights to discuss recent topics in a historical context and make conclusions about how our future will look like based on those historical facts.
As you can see, a career as a historian can have many important advantages.
Yet, there are also many issues related to this career path that I want to discuss for you in the following chapter so that you get a more realistic picture of what working as a historian really looks like.
Disadvantages of a Historian Career
- You need a degree for becoming a historian
- You may have to take on student loans
- Historians have a rather low social status
- You may get bored of what you are doing in the long run
- Problems in the dating market for historians
- Historians have rather poor job prospects
- Questionable outlook for the future
- Historians don’t learn many important skills
- Hard to switch to other fields
- Lack of social interaction can be frustrating
- Hard to start your own business in this field
- Funding may become an issue
- Historians don’t produce anything tangible
- People will often belittle what you are doing for a living
- You will not get rich as a historian
- Employability greatly depends on the region you live in
- Historians can’t be creative at work
- Overweight may become an issue for historians
You need a degree for becoming a historian
One downside to becoming a historian is that you often need a college degree for working in this field.
Quite often, you will even need to get a doctor’s degree and this implies that you will have to spend lots of time and money on college education.
Hence, while many of your friends will leave college after getting their bachelor’s degree and will make decent money, it will take you much longer to succeed as a historian and this can be really frustrating, especially if you see all the nice things your friends will be able to afford while you will often not be able to afford any luxury at all during your long time in college.
You may have to take on student loans
Since you will have to spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses for your college education, you will likely also have to take on significant amounts of student loans for becoming a historian.
While these student loans can make your time in college easier, they also lead to great financial issues in the future since you will have to repay those loans sooner or later and repaying those loans can take quite a lot of time and will financially constrain you.
In turn, you may have to wait for quite a long time until you are able to afford to buy your own home and to live the American dream.
Historians have a rather low social status
You will also not have the highest social status as a historian.
In fact, you will just not do something really important for society compared to other people who work as doctors and can really save many lives during their careers.
In turn, you may get really frustrated with what you are doing for a living in the long run and will often also have to deal with snarky comments in this regard.
You may get bored of what you are doing in the long run
Another downside of a historian career is that you may also get bored with your job in the long run.
Working as a historian is just not that exciting and if you don’t have a deep interest in these historical topics, you will be far better of by just going for an alternative career since you would just get bored with what you are doing pretty soon and will likely not become happy as a historian in the long run.
Problems in the dating market for historians
Due to your rather low social status and the lack of excitement that comes along with this job, many people out there will also consider you boring and not suitable when it comes to choosing a partner in the dating market.
Sure, this is not true for all historians and you might just be a great guy who can easily compensate for the downsides mentioned before.
However, many historians are just not able to convince potential mates that they are a good choice to start a family with and you may therefore have a hard time finding someone for a long-term relationship.
Historians have rather poor job prospects
There are also not that many open positions in the job market for historians.
In fact, many historians will never get the opportunity to work in the corporate world.
Instead, most of them will work in research institutes and there is just a rather confined number of jobs available for historians when we look at it from an overall perspective.
Consequently, you may also have a pretty hard time finding an appropriate job and in case you lose your job, you may also have a hard time finding a new job as a historian.
Questionable outlook for the future
Not only is the job market for historians difficult right now, but this trend will likely continue in the future.
Due to artificial intelligence and machine learning, many jobs in this field will be carried out by machines sooner or later and this means that many historians will just become obsolete.
Hence, if you are one of those unlucky people, you may get into serious long-term unemployment and may have a hard time getting out of it since you will simply not have learned how to compete in a fierce corporate environment.
Historians don’t learn many important skills
Another problem with being a historian is that you will often not learn many hard skills that are valuable in the job market right now.
For instance, historians often lack important digital skills and will rather work as people did decades ago.
Many historians also have problems adapting to our latest technologies and some of them are just not willing to leave the status quo at all.
Those people will have quite a hard time in the future since they will simply be left behind.
Hard to switch to other fields
Due to the lack of hard skills, historians will also have a pretty hard time when it comes to switching fields since they will often not be able to find a different job.
For instance, say that you get bored with what you are doing after a few years and you want to do something different.
In such a case, many historians will just still have to work in their field since they often don’t find a company that wants to employ them.
Lack of social interaction can be frustrating
As a historian, you will also not have contact with many people.
Instead, you will often have to work on your own and while some people love working in this manner, others will just need more company and social interaction to stay mentally healthy in the long run.
Hence, if you are a rather outgoing type of person who wants to talk to people at work on a regular basis, you may want to go for a different career path instead of becoming a historian.
Hard to start your own business in this field
Another issue with becoming a historian is that you will also barely have any opportunity to start your own business in this field.
There will just not be high demand for products of any sort in this field and this means that you will likely have to work as an employed historian for quite a long time and can never start your own company in this field.
Sure, this may not be a problem if you plan to work as an employee forever.
However, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and really want to build things, you should go for different fields to work in since you will most likely not be able to achieve your dreams as a historian in this regard.
Funding may become an issue
If you work for a research institute, you may also be responsible for assuring the funding for your research projects as a historian.
This means that you will often have to advertise what you are doing to the general public and if fundraising is just not a thing, a career as a historian may also be problematic in this regard.
Historians don’t produce anything tangible
As a historian, you will also not be able to produce anything tangible. Instead, you will spend many hours of your workday just researching stuff.
This can be quite frustrating, especially if you talk to your friends who may invent important new things on a regular basis.
In fact, the lack of an end goal from your projects can be really frustrating and many historians get really frustrated or even desperate in this regard in the long run.
People will often belittle what you are doing for a living
While you may really like working as a historian, other people may just belittle you and may try to bring you down.
Quite often, you will have to deal with snarky comments regarding your career choice and even your family and your circle of friends may not understand why you want to become a historian.
Consequently, also make sure that you are really passionate about a historian career and that you don’t care about what other people are saying about you.
You will not get rich as a historian
While you can make decent money from your job as a historian, you will just not have the chance to get rich.
Instead, while you will be able to afford some luxury, you will often not be able to afford a fancy home in expensive regions.
Moreover, while doctors and lawyers will be able to drive fancy cars and to send their kids to the best colleges out there, you will just not be able to compete in this regard as a historian.
Employability greatly depends on the region you live in
While historians may be in high demand in urban areas where there are many research institutes and colleges, you may have a hard time finding a job if you live in a rather rural area and you may therefore also have to move to a different region if you want to become successful as a historian.
Historians can’t be creative at work
You should also not become a historian if you are a rather creative person since you will often just repeat stuff and don’t have the opportunity to display those facts in a completely different manner.
In fact, creative people will most likely become quite bored with historian work and you should therefore go for a different career path if you have those character traits.
Overweight may become an issue for historians
Since you will barely exercise at all during work, you may also suffer from overweight or even obesity in the long run.
Hence, as a historian, you may also have to spend some time in the gym while other people enjoy their leisure in a more convenient manner.
Top 10 Being a Historian Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Historian Pros||Being a Historian Cons|
|Historians don’t have to work long hours||Historians don’t get rich|
|You don’t have to work at nighttime||Rather low social status of historians|
|Historians enjoy decent work-life balance||Working as a historian can be boring|
|Being a historian is not that stressful||Rather poor promotion options|
|You can conserve important information||Low level of job security|
|Historians can work indoors||Unclear future job prospects|
|You can avoid physical work||Historians don’t learn many hard skills|
|Historians can work from home||Problems in the job market|
|You can start a digital channel||Hard to get out of this field|
|You can work rather independently||Lack of social interaction|
Should You Become A Historian?
Now that you got all the upsides and downsides to being a historian, you should take your time and evaluate all the advantages and disadvantages of a historian career yourself before you make a career choice that will greatly determine how your future life will look like.
Also make sure to check out the following articles to get more information on different job options:
Own research and interviews.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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