Historian Career Information
What a Historian does
Are you one of the very few who actually read History regularly and not just before the exam? Are you fascinated by the way people of Mahen-Jo-Daro and Harappa lived or the development of civilisation at the banks of the river Nile?
Historians trace our past. They are involved in collecting evidence of the past, studying and describing past civilizations, societies, culture, life style, customs, values, warfare, technology, and economy. They find out about how human beings lived through the ages since the beginning of its origin. Historians also study political systems, wars, administrative systems, and civil systems of different dynasties and empires.
Historians identify and study various evidences like artifacts, architectural relics, remnants of monuments, remnants of buildings, old coins, fossils, ancient books, inscription on stones, rocks, temples, idols of God, metal plates, cave drawings by ancient men, remnants of past civilisations, and records of historical events. They analyze the evidence and draw a conclusion about the events that had occurred in the past.
As a historian, you can specialise in various areas like Ancient History (deals with pre-historic age and the early civilization generally from 5000 BC to 1000 AD), Medieval History (deals with history of the middle age generally from 1000 AD to 1600 AD), and Modern History (deals with history of post 16th Century AD). There are other options available like American history, Islamic history, European history, and History of India's freedom movement.
As a Historian, you can also specialise in various occupational areas like Archeology, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Archival science, etc.
Archaeologists identify historical site, excavate, study, analyze, interpret, and preserve historical remains of the ancient civilizations and remnants of the past and develop detailed profiles of past civilisations. Historians tell us how people lived in the past, technology used by them, their culture, their food habits, the utensils used by the people, the clothes and accessories used by them, their societies, and other relevant facts. Historians draw a clear picture of the past, which help us to understand it better.
Numismatists analyze the coins recovered from archeological ruins. Rulers of the past used to produce coins bearing inscription. Inscription of many types are found. For example, the visage of the king, a picture depicting an important incident, the period of one's dynasty, visage of one's beloved queen or child, visage of God, etc. Numismatists analyze the inscription to find out about the history behind the coins.
For example, an inscription of Shiva found on the coins of Maurya period suggests that God Shiva used to be worshipped during the rules of the Maurya. Existence of a country's coin in another country suggests that those two countries had some trade or cultural links.
Epigraphists are also involved in study of inscriptions but they specialise in inscription on various materials like stone, metal plaques, walls of cave, walls of ancient temples, and monuments other than coin. The epigraphists study inscriptions and analyse to find out the history.
Archivists are concerned with manuscripts and other types of historical records. They study books and other documents of the past, which are excellent sources for finding out the history.
Museologists are involved with forms and nature of museum collection, restoration of the collection whenever necessary, conservation of the collection, exhibition, and maintenance of museums.
As a historian, you will mainly work in academic environment as researcher. Jobs in museums and historical survey organisations are very few. As a researcher, you will be involved in study and research. There are scopes for field trips also if you are an archeologist, numismatist, or epigraphist.
If you are an archeologist, you may have to live in unfriendly and foreign environment for some time in excavation work or field trips. Often archeological excavation or related work is carried out in places far away from city or even villages. You will have opportunities to travel to foreign lands for archeological work or for studies.
As a Historian you can get a job in:
• University departments and colleges
• Archeological Survey of India as Epigraphic Assistant, Curator, Technical Assistant, Archeologist depending on your specialization
• Historical research organizations like Indian Council for Historical Research as Technical Assistant, Research Associate, Research Fellow, Archivists, etc.
• Nationally important libraries and documents centre like National Archives as an Assistant Archivist.
• Museums as Technical Assistants, Assistant curator, etc. .
As a Historian you could work in:
There is not much to say about future prospects but academic and research jobs are gradually becoming very lucrative in India in line with the trends in developed countries like USA. If you venture abroad to USA or UK, then your career can become very exciting as the work as a historian there has become technology and tool oriented. Fields like Archaeology, Archival Science offer good opportunities. Getting a good job in India is very competitive as the number of opportunities is very limited.
Abilities & Traits Required
History is mainly an academic career and as in other such careers, you will be involved in studies throughout your life. So you must have a keen interest in studies and of course in History. You should have an academic orientation and be prepared to acquire higher qualifications.
History also needs you write a lot. So you got to have good written communication skills. You should have an excellent memory to remember facts and dates. Moreover, historical research need long hours and days. So you must have patience and perseverance.
Academic qualification wise, you will need at least an MA History or MA Archaeology or related area or a post graduate diploma in Archaeology to get an entry-level job in History related fields. You can also get an entry-level job in teaching with your MA degree.
But if you want a really successful and rewarding career, then you must obtain a PhD History or PhD Archaeology. If you are a lecturer in a university department or a college, you will need a PhD for promotion to higher posts. You will also do well if you go for post-doctoral fellowships at universities in UK or USA.
Expected earnings of a Historian: After your MA, if you join teaching, you will be paid about Rs 25000 - 35000 a month to begin with.
If you join a university department as a research fellow, then you will get about Rs 20000-40000 a month.
In other jobs, you are paid in the range of Rs 18000 - 35000 per month in the beginning.
If you join in research positions after your PhD, then you will be paid in the range of Rs 25000 - 45000 a month.
As of the present scale of salary, the maximum you can earn in all these jobs is Rs 28000-45000 a month as a Director of an organisation. However, the salary scale is likely to be revised very soon.