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Historian

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Summary of occupation

Historians research events, people, technologies, ideas and other topics from the past. They collect data from a wide variety of sources, which can be cross-checked with other sources to check accuracy and find discrepancies. Historians interpret this information to suggest theories and draw conclusions about the subject. Their findings can be published through reports, books, journal articles, in the media, presented as lectures or form part of a museum exhibition. Many historians also undertake teaching duties at universities or schools. They may also act as an adviser or consultant to governments and other organisations, such as churches, private businesses or individuals.

ANZSCO description: Researches the history of human activity and prepares accounts of findings.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Art Historian, Cultural Historian, Economic Historian, Geographical Historian
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An historian needs:

  • thorough investigative and research skills
  • the ability to analyse and interpret information
  • good communication skills
  • an interest in human behaviour, culture and society
  • an enquiring mind.
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Working conditions

In Western Australia, the majority of historians work in the Perth metropolitan region, in offices, libraries, museums or from their own homes. Some historians may occasionally travel to universities, libraries and museums around the world to examine rare data sources, study sites of interest first hand or attend conferences. They generally work regular business hours, though this may vary depending on specific projects.

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Salary details

On average, historians, classified under social professionals, can expect to earn between $1 250 and $1 499 per week ($65 000 and $77 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a historian develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Historians collect information from a wide variety of data sources including manuscripts, diaries, letters, artefacts and newspaper, magazine and journal articles. Information sources are often located in archives or libraries, and historians will need to be familiar with referencing systems to locate information related to the subject they are researching. Some historians may also conduct interviews with people, often recording them. They also use computers and word processing software to write-up their findings.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a professional historian you usually need to study history at university, generally to honours level. Most historians also hold additional postgraduate qualifications, usually at Masters or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level.

All universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses in history. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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