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How Much Does a Historian Get Paid?

Career historians rarely go into the field to make a fortune; for many, the job is a labour of love. However, some historians make serious salaries.


History teachers work in primary through secondary school levels, and also at the community college and college levels. Typically, stand-alone history class instruction begins at the middle school level where teachers earned an annual salary between £22,334 and £51,480 in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries for teachers at the high-school level ranged from £22,490 to £53,300 for the same year. College history professors earned a median salary of £41,268 in 2009. Post-secondary teacher salary schedules use a wage table, but also allow highly trained historians to negotiate higher salaries, particularly in endowed teaching assignments.

Park, Forest & Monument Historians

National and state parks, forests and monuments employ historians as researchers and professional guides. Historians with education coursework and training also work as curriculum designers and classroom teachers for students on field trips or students attending summer training programs or workshops. Historians at parks and forests also conduct training courses for classroom teachers during the summer. Government historians earn a project fee, depending on the scope and length of the assignment, or an hourly fee for training. Full-time government historians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009, earned a starting salary of £19,500. The JOBSUSA federal employment portal indicates that historians working as hourly paid rangers averaged between £6 and £19 an hour in 2011.

Curators & Museum Staff

Historians working as curators and museum staff at federal assignments with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Smithsonian Institution have advanced post-secondary degrees, including a master's or doctorate. Pay for these assignments in 2011, according to USAJOBS, an official career portal for the federal government, begins in the low £39,000s and increases over years of service to the £58,500 range. Some positions, such as historians working for the Army Training and Doctrine Command, require travel in the United States and overseas. Local, regional and state museums also hire historians to assist in developing public museum installations. The 2009 pay for assignments at local and regional museums began at £17,550, with intense competition for the limited openings.

Research Historians & History Analysts

Research historians also work at federal agencies, including the Library of Congress, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Department of State and the armed forces, including the Army Training and Doctrine Command, also hire historians. The USAJOBS website posts careers for historians working for the Department of State from an entry-level hire at £40,603 to the top of the salary scale at £52,782 in April 2011. Historians applying for these high-level jobs must have education and experience equivalent to a master's degree or doctorate, and usually have foreign-language mastery. Historians employed at state and local levels as researchers and government analysts earned an average salary of £23,900 in 2009, according to careers posted in 2011 on the American Historical Association career webpage.

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