What does a historian do?

Depending on a historian’s particular area of expertise and who they are employed by, the nature of historical research and the means by which it is conducted will differ. However, some duties are commonplace amongst  historians; daily duties may include: attending or presenting seminars, assessing the legitimacy and accuracy of historical sources, working in an educational capacity and examining historical evidence. 

Tasks:

  • Examine historical artefacts and sources
  • Liaise with other professionals in the field
  • Conduct thorough research
  • Examine the legitimacy of evidence
  • Prepare educational coursework

What skills do I need to be a historian?

Historians must possess a strong passion for the past and be intrigued by historical matters. Whether on a professional or personal basis, a love for history will add to the quality of the research conducted. Historians must also enjoy interpreting data to retrieve historically significant information. A determining factor in becoming a successful historian is the ability to conduct research, analyse potentially conflicting historical accounts and write academically on your findings. 

Skills/attributes
  • Strong love of history
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent academic writing skills
  • Enjoys meticulous research
  • Able to think abstractly

Specialisations

As a historian you can decide on your particular specialisation based on your personal interests and what capacity you would like to work in.

University lecturer

University lecturers are responsible for the quality of education provided to tertiary students. Historians working in a university context will often create units of study based on their specific expertise, creating a suite of lectures, designing assessment modules and engaging with student enquiries.

High school teacher

Secondary school or high school teachers design their lesson plans and assessments in line with the state’s mandatory high school curriculum. They educate students on historical events, familiarise them with research methods and teach them to approach sources with historical detachment.

Anthropologist

Anthropologists research and examine the history of human behaviour, society and culture through various forms of fieldwork. Anthropologists aim to compile research data and create comprehensive academic findings that develop a more thorough understanding of how societies work, how they change and the links or similarities between different cultural groups.

Study pathways for historians

There are a number of different pathways available to budding historians. Your study pathway will be dictated by your interests and your career goals.

Getting Started

Choose a course relevant to your interests in history

Skill Building

With specialised study options, work towards your ultimate career goals

Professional Development

Learn research and analysis skills essential to a historian

Industry Recognition

Depending on your qualifications, you can seek membership with Professional Historians Australia.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your humanities career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

The capacity you choose to work in as a historian will largely dictate your salary and employment prospects.