Careers for Historians

Welcome to Careers for Historians. This is a resource for history students to explore career options. It’s for those who are considering pursuing studies in history, for those who already have a history degree (undergraduate or graduate) and are wondering about what career paths exist, and for faculty members to refine how they advise their students.

While this is not a complete guide to every career possibility, it offers some insight into the different kinds of jobs available in Canada and the United States that utilize historical knowledge and its tools of analysis, including academic careers, careers in education, public history positions, and jobs in the media and arts. An education in history brings with it general skills that can be applied to many types of work. Historians also work in government, non-profit, and corporate jobs in addition to the many jobs described here, and in doing so make good use of the analytical, research, technological, and organizational skills gained through an education in history.

We also recognize that those working in these various careers with training in history may have some further insights or refinements to offer. We welcome such input to improve this resource, so please contact us should you have some to offer.

The goals of the History Career Website are the following:

  1. To provide information on a variety of career paths available to historians and students of history (prospective and current).
  2. To help enable historians and students of history to create or find a pathway that suits them best, and to encourage them to do so.
  3. To reflect on the nature of each job. What does it entail? What difficulties may be encountered?
  4. To offer career resources in each category (most of them online resources).
  5. To suggest any additional education or experience that would give a historian or student of history an edge in pursuing any of these positions.

Contents

Introduction: Why Are You A Historian? | The Study of History: Undergraduate & Graduate Students | Expanding Career Possibilities | Gaining Practical Experience | Moving Forward | Other Career Resources | Acknowledgements | References for Statistical Figures | Contact Us

Academic Careers: Tenure-Track & Tenured Faculty | Non-Tenured Sessional Instructors & Lecturers | Independent Scholars

Education: University & College Staff | School Teachers

Public History: Libraries, Archives, Museums & Historical Societies | Historical Interpreters | Exhibition Curating | Historical Researchers & Consultants

Media & The Arts: Non-Fiction Writers | Journalists | Documentary Filmmakers | New Media | Creative History

About the Author

Christopher Laursen is a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Department of History. He has a background working in journalism and the media and was drawn to history as a means to deepen the stories he tells about the past and present. After a decade of scholarly studies and hearing concerns about the state of the academic job market, he began to explore the diverse ways in which historians could practice their craft. In 2011, he organized a four-part speakers’ series at UBC, Multimedia Histories, in which interdisciplinary humanities scholars shared how they were using film, online media, sound, installation, and theatre as innovative ways to share their research. Careers for Historians offers prospective and current students of history as well as career counsellors, historians, and faculty members a variety of career pathways to consider. From there, he hopes that those who practice history can find a place of employment that suits them.