How to Become a History Professor

History Professor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $75,020
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 11%

History Professors are professionals who have a vast knowledge of previous accounts that have occurred around the world.

These professionals are responsible for taking this vast knowledge and reciting it to undergraduate students in a postsecondary setting.

Individuals who want to become a History Professor will have a passion for learning about history across the world and lecturing undergraduates on the most important occurrences that have occurred across the globe.

Education Requirements to Become a History Professor

Individuals who want to become a History Professor will need to pursue a postsecondary degree and a minimum of a Master’s degree in order to enter this profession.

In addition, some employers seek candidates who have a PhD.

During their undergraduate degree, individuals will need to focus their educational degree in history or a closely related field.

An undergraduate degree in history will prepare an individual with an in depth knowledge of history and with a very general understanding of the different areas of history.

During an undergraduate in history, individuals will focus on a variety of topics in history including: world history, American history, European history or Social history.

During their graduate careers, individuals who want to become a History Professor will need to choose a specialization in history.

Some history tracks include medieval history, twentieth century history, military history, or a history focusing on a geographical area such as European or Latin American history.

In addition, completing a PhD in history requires an individual to perform original research in the area of specialization and to complete a dissertation, an in depth paper documenting a student’s research.

Some graduate history students also become teaching assistants which enables them to gain skills in teaching at the college level.

History Professor Job Description

History Professors are responsible for reciting history lessons and plans to their undergraduate students.

The exact work load for a History Professor will depend on whether an individual is an adjunct professor (a professor who works part time on a contractual basis), is a professor who is tenured and holds a permanent position, or is involved in running research projects.

A History Professor needs a lot of preparation in order to hold lectures for history lessons.

History Professors will spend plenty of time organizing curriculums in anticipation for an upcoming class.

In addition to preparing lessons for their students, History Professors will create assignments, quizzes, research paper themes and exams.

History Professors will be responsible for testing their students on the material lectured in class.

They will create exams to test their knowledge and proctor the exam to assure individual students complete their own examinations.

Typically, Professors are required to assign midterm and final exams, but some may also assign other measure to test their students such as pop quizzes, research papers and other projects.

History Professors will then spend time to grade all tests, papers and assignments to ensure students have fully understood lessons and reading assignments.

History Professor Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for all postsecondary instructors, including History Professors, was approximately $68,970 per year.

Exact wages will depend on the industry and specialization an individual chooses to work in.

For example, history teachers at the postsecondary level will earn a median annual wage of approximately $65,870.

The job outlook for postsecondary teachers, including History Professors, is expected to increase by 19 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is considered faster than average when compared to other professions and is attributed to the fast growth in enrollments at postsecondary schools.

However, some positions at public colleges and universities will ultimately depend on funding.

Individuals will have more opportunities at privately funded universities or colleges.

Individuals who have a passion for teaching as well as history will find that a career as a History Professor is a good fit.

Benefits that this profession can provide include flexible schedules, summers off as optional, research opportunities as well as the opportunity to engage younger students with the wealth of information that history provides.

Individuals pursuing a career as a History Professor can also be assured of a strong job outlook due to an expected increase in job creation.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$103,620
Idaho- NA -
New Hampshire$97,380
New Jersey$97,860
New Mexico$78,120
New York$101,230
North Carolina$79,490
North Dakota$80,740
Rhode Island$117,020
South Carolina$72,790
South Dakota$69,260
West Virginia$46,460
Puerto Rico$68,650

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $134,260.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $134,260
Rhode Island - $117,020
Massachusetts - $110,460
District of Columbia - $103,620
New York - $101,230
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for History Teachers, Postsecondary, OCC Code 25-1125, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a history professor do?

In a nutshell, a history professor is a specialist who studies and interprets the past and teaches students in colleges and universities.

Some professionals might specialize in a specific era, while others study a certain region, and so on.

History professors can also specialize in history type (history of science, women, etc.) or even a specific decade and event.

Of course, even though the majority of professors specialize in a certain topic, they should still all have a general knowledge of the history of mankind.

The typical responsibilities of a history professor usually include studying all sorts of historic sources and piecing together the information that they have accumulated; teaching in colleges and universities; creating lesson plans; lecturing students; proctoring exams; conducting research; writing and publishing scholarly papers, books and articles, and so on.

How much do history professors make?

On average, a history professor can make a little more than $61.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $45.000 and $104.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the college you work for, the location and so on.

An entry-level history professor can earn around $37 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $74 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a history professor?

You would certainly need to earn a bachelor’s degree in history, in order to become a history professor.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You would also need a Master’s (over $30.000, in most cases) or Doctoral degree (around $30.000-$40.000) in History to be able to teach in colleges.

You must be certified to become a teacher; the cost of teacher certification can vary from state to state, so be prepared to pay anywhere between $40 and $200.

What is the demand for history professors?

Between 2018 and 2028, the postsecondary teacher job market (including history professors) is expected to grow by 11%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a lot faster than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Those who possess a master’s or a doctorate degree will have better job prospects.

Bear in mind that there is a shortage of professors in some locations.

How long does it take to become a history professor?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree; 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree; on average, you would need to spend 5 to 9 years to earn a Ph.D. in history.

To get the teacher certification, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, complete an approved teacher education program, pass a background check and knowledge and skills tests.

The initial certificate is valid for 5 years; you would have to complete a certain number of professional development hours every five years to maintain the certification.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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