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How to become a historian in Australia: careers in humanities

Historians use their research expertise to discover new facts about the past and offer theories about events, attitudes and other elements of history. They tend to focus on specific periods in time, regions societies or elements of human culture. Historians generally study and research factors such as geographic locations, artefacts, architectural landmarks and cultural and racial groups. They are mostly employed in academia, working for educational organisations, religious groups, private organisations or commercial groups.
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Pathways

Being a historian: daily duties

A historian’s daily duties will vary depending on their particular area of expertise, who they are employed by, the nature of their historical research and the way it is conducted. However, common duties they perform include attending or presenting seminars, assessing the legitimacy and accuracy of historical sources, working in an educational capacity and examination of historic evidence.

Tasks:

  • Examining historical artefacts and sources
  • Liaising with professionals in the field
  • Undertaking thorough research
  • Examining the legitimacy of evidence
  • Preparing educational coursework
Skills

Being a historian: skills for success

A strong passion for the passed and an intrigue for historical matters are necessary to be successful as a historian. Strong research skills and the ability t interpret data are also important, as well as good analytical skills and the ability to assess potentially conflicting historical accounts and write academically about your findings.
Skills/attributes
  • Strong love of history
  • Attention to detail
  • Academic writing skills
  • Strong research skills
  • Ability to think abstractly
Specs

Specialised roles within humanities

There are a range of specialisations you can pursue if you would like to be a historian, depending on your personal interests and the capacity you would like to work in.
  • University lecturer
    Historians who work in a university setting often create units of study based on their specific expertise, including suites of lectures, assessment modules and engaging with student enquiries.
  • High school teacher
    Specialising in teaching history to secondary school students, these teaching roles involve designing lesson plans and assessments in line with each state’s mandatory high school teaching curriculum. Students are educated on historical events, familiarised with research methods, and taught to approach sources with historical detachment.
  • Anthropologist
    An anthropologist researches and examines the history of human behaviour, society and culture. They compile research data and create academic findings to develop a thorough understanding of how various societies work, how they evolve and change and the links or similarities between differing cultural groups.
Pathways

Educational pathways for historians

Budding historians can choose from a number of different pathways to kick start their careers, depending on their interests and long term goals
  • Start your career
    Find a course that’s relevant to your historical interests.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Work towards your ultimate career goals with specialised study options.
  • Build your resume
    Build and develop the essential research and analysis skills that you’ll need to be a historian.
  • Industry requirements
    You can seek membership with Professional Historians Australia, depending on your qualifications.
  • Finding Work
    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.
  • Employment Prospects
    Your salary and employment prospects will largely be dictated by the capacity you choose to work in as a historian.

Resources for historians

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