Historians: Salary Overview
Historians study historical documents to research, analyze, and write about the past.
Depending on the field of employment, their job responsibilities may include gathering historical data, analyzing and interpreting the information, archiving and preserving materials in museums and historic sites, providing advice on historical topics and writing reports and articles on their findings.
They typically work for governments, businesses, nonprofits, religious organizations, or individuals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for historians employed in the United States was $63,680 as of May 2019.
The hourly wage for historians typically ranges between $14 and $55.
This means that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this amount while half earned more.
The numbers published by BLS show that the lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,760 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $114,810.
The 25th percentile in the historians’ salary distribution is $41,880 a year, which means that most workers in this profession (75%) earned more than this amount.
The 75th percentile is $89,550 which means that only 25% of historians earned more than this amount.
Experience, education, skills, and industry of employment are some of the factors that determine how much a historian makes.
Historian Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, historians earned approximately 3,300 jobs in the United States in 2018.
Most historians worked for the federal government, for local governments, for companies that provide professional, scientific, and technical services or for state governments.
Salaries vary widely depending on the industry of employment.
Their largest employer, the federal executive branch hired approximately 670 historians and offered them a mean annual wage of $98,050 while the average annual wage for historians hired by local governments was $42,670.
The mean annual wage was $56,630 for historians who worked for state governments and $69,830 for those who worked in scientific research.
Companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services employed approximately 230 historians and paid them, on average, with $75,740.
Colleges, universities, and professional schools hired approximately 100 historians in 2019 who were paid, on average, with $63,500 a year.
In conclusion, the field that offers the highest salary for historians is also their largest employer.
However, in order to qualify for a high-paying position in the federal executive branch, you will typically need at least a master’s degree in history, public history, museum studies, archival management, or historical preservation and a few years of experience in the field.
Research positions typically also require a doctoral degree.
Completing an internship during college will teach you the practical skills for this profession and will improve your chances of finding employment after graduation.
Experience is another important factor in determining how much a historian makes per year.
As an entry-level employee, you can earn less than $30,000 a year and earn up to more than $110,000 per year after gaining 15-20 years of experience.
Historian Salary by Compensation Structure
Historians typically are paid a fixed salary but in some cases, they may also receive bonuses.
According to payscale.com, historians received, on average $1,012 a year in bonuses.
Most historians also receive medical and dental insurance and some also receive vision insurance.
Employment growth for historians depends on the funding available because many historical societies and consulting firms depend on donations or public funding.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for historians is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.
However, competition is expected to be strong, especially in the research, the federal executive branch, and other industries that offer higher-than-average salaries.
Holding a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in the field where you’re seeking employment and having completed an internship during college will help you start a career as a historian and give you better career advancement options.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Historians. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.