How to Become a Historian?

How to Become a Historian?

How to Become a Historian?
Indira Kunwar

Do you consider History a significant subject during your school years? Does the story of human history captivate your interest? Do you find joy in visiting places with historical significance? Do ancient civilizations kindle a strong desire to delve deeper into their stories? Are you inclined to carve your path rather than follow conventional career choices? Are Science and Mathematics not your strongest suits? If so, History presents a promising avenue.

In this comprehensive guide, we will journey through the pages of time, exploring the steps, qualifications, and opportunities that lead to becoming a historian.

What is a Historian?

A historian is like a detective of the past. They're people who study and try to understand how things were in the olden days. Just like how we learn about people, events, and places from our parents, grandparents, and books, historians do something similar but on a bigger scale. They read old documents, study ancient artifacts, and even talk to experts about what happened long ago. They then share these stories and findings with others so that everyone can learn about and appreciate our history.

Also, Check Career Options after M.A. History

What is the role and responsibilities of a Historian?

  • Gathering Historical Information: Historians collect diverse historical information from archives, books, and artifacts. This accumulation forms the basis for their investigations.
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Historians meticulously analyze and interpret historical data to ascertain its accuracy and significance. They decipher the past's intricate details to unveil its stories.
  • Exploring Historical Developments: Historians delve into the historical progress of specific fields. They uncover how different aspects of society, culture, and events have evolved.
  • Engaging in Public Education: Historians participate in public education initiatives by delivering presentations and participating in programs. They share their insights to increase awareness and understanding of history.
  • Preservation of Materials: Historians advocate for the conservation of materials and artifacts. They emphasize the importance of archiving these items in museums, visitor centers, and historic locations.
  • Providing Guidance: Historians offer guidance and direction on matters related to history and preservation. Their expertise helps shape decisions that safeguard our heritage.
  • Creating Informative Content: Drawing from their research and theories, historians create various forms of content such as reports, articles, and books. These works contribute to the broader understanding of historical narratives.

Becoming a Historian: The Pathway and Opportunities

Are you fascinated by the stories of the past? Do you have a curiosity for unraveling historical mysteries? Becoming a historian allows you to dive deep into the annals of time, uncovering hidden narratives and sharing them with the world. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to embark on this journey:

Undergraduate Studies after School:

Begin your journey by completing your schooling and enrolling in a Bachelor of Arts in History program.

Post Graduate Studies:

After your undergraduate degree, take a step further and pursue a master's course in a specific field of history that piques your interest. You can specialize in areas like Ancient History, Contemporary History, Archaeology, Social and Cultural History, and many more.

Doctoral Studies:

To become a specialized historian, research becomes a significant part of your path. After completing your postgraduate studies, you can pursue a Ph.D. in your chosen specialization. This advanced research-oriented course allows you to contribute to the body of historical knowledge.

You can also opt for an M.Phil. course in History after your master's degree and then proceed to a Ph.D. This route also provides a strong foundation for advanced research.

Salary of Historian in the Indian Context:

In India, the salary of a historian can vary based on factors such as educational qualifications, experience, specialization, and the type of organization they work for. Entry-level historians, such as those with a master's degree, might start with salaries ranging from ₹25,000 to ₹40,000 per month. However, their earnings can increase significantly as historians gain experience and expertise.

Experienced historians with doctoral degrees and a substantial body of research may earn between ₹ $ 50,000 to ₹ $ 1,00,000 or even more monthly. Teaching positions at universities and colleges often come with higher pay scales, and historians recognized as authorities in their field can command even better compensation. It's important to note that working in research institutions, government organizations, and educational institutions might offer different salary structures.

Training Courses for Historians:

To pursue a career as a historian in India, the following training courses are commonly undertaken:

  • Bachelor's in History: A bachelor's degree in History is the first step. It provides a foundational understanding of historical concepts and methodologies.
  • Master's in History: A master's degree allows you to specialize in a particular area of history, such as Ancient History, Medieval History, Contemporary History, etc.
  • Ph.D. in History: For those aiming for advanced research and academic positions, a Ph.D. offers in-depth knowledge and the opportunity to contribute new insights to the field.
  • M.Phil. in History: An M.Phil. can be pursued after a master's degree and serves as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. It emphasizes research skills.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming a Historian:


  • Intellectual Exploration: Historians explore and unravel the mysteries of the past, contributing to a better understanding of human history and its impact on society.
  • Preservation of Heritage: Historians play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage, artifacts, and historical sites for future generations.
  • Diverse Career Paths: Historians can work in academia, research institutions, museums, government organizations, and more, offering various career options.
  • Contribution to Society: By uncovering hidden stories and sharing historical insights, historians contribute to societal awareness and cultural appreciation.

Personal Fulfillment: For individuals passionate about history, becoming a historian can be incredibly fulfilling, allowing them to pursue their interests as a career.


  • Limited Job Openings: The number of academic and research positions for historians can be limited, leading to competitive job markets.
  • Research Challenges: Historical research often involves working with incomplete or fragmented information, which can be challenging and require critical thinking.
  • Economic Factors: Some history-related positions, particularly in museums or research institutions, offer lower salaries than others.
  • Long Study Period: Becoming a historian involves years of education and research, which might only suit some.

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What education do I need to become a historian?

To become a historian, you typically start with a Bachelor's degree in History or a related field. After that, pursuing a Master's and even a Ph.D. can provide specialized knowledge and research opportunities.

What are some specializations within the field of history?

History offers various specializations, including Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Archaeology, Social, Cultural, and Economic History. You can choose an area that aligns with your interests.

Is it necessary to have a Ph.D. to be a historian?

While a Ph.D. can open up advanced research opportunities and academic positions, it can be optional. Many historians work with a Master's degree in roles such as museum curators, archivists, and educators.

What skills are essential for a career in history?

Strong research and analytical skills are crucial for historians. Attention to detail, critical thinking, effective communication, and working with historical sources are also important.

Can I become a historian without specializing in history during my undergraduate studies?

Yes, it's possible. Some historians start with degrees in related fields such as archaeology, anthropology, or literature and then specialize in history during their postgraduate studies.

What career opportunities are available for historians?

Historians can work as professors, researchers, museum curators, archivists, historical consultants, and more. They contribute to educating, preserving, and interpretation our past in academia and various institutions.

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