A geographical history major examines human behavior from two perspectives: that of the influence of geography on historical events and the distribution of human populations and how they have changed over time. These subjects are not simply interesting arcane topics for theoretical debate; they also influence events in the world today.
What Do Geographical Historians Do?
Geographical historians propose and test theories on how geography influences history and human behavior. This field is a mix of geography, anthropology, and sociology in the sense that it usually relates to human beings and the decisions they make as individuals and as a culture. The difference between a geographical historian and a “regular” historian is that geographical historians focus on the specific influence of geography in defining and explaining how people have lived and behaved in the past.
However, geographical historians also operate in the present. By studying the geographical history of an area, these professionals can often make very accurate predictions or recommendations about a given geographic area and how that landscape will affect the people who live there.
Geographical historians may also work with other professionals such as conservationists to make land use recommendations or give advice to government agencies on the influence of geography on a given area.
How Much Can I Make As a Geographical Historian?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that historians in general earned a median annual salary of $53,520 in 2010. Most of these professionals had at least a master’s degree in some field of history and worked in various areas of expertise that impacted their earning potential. For example, historians working with the federal government earned a median salary of $84,860, while those working with professional and technical companies earned $55,410. Those working for state and local governments earned far less, with a median annual salary of $49,990 and $30,950 respectively.
Geographical historians who focus on certain areas of the field and become experts may expect to earn more than their colleagues since their expertise will be sought by others. However, most geographical historians can find work in a variety of places including academic settings and government agencies.
What Is The Job Outlook for a Geographical Historian?
Job opportunities for geographical historians are projected to grow by 18 percent between now and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is slightly higher than the average growth rate for all job fields. Geographical historians may also find work in related fields such as management and planning, economics, and research.
How Do I Become a Geographical Historian?
Most historians have at least a master’s degree and many seek a PhD or Doctor of Philosophy in History, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that historians of all types must put a great deal of time, effort, and money into their educations before beginning to earn any substantial salary.
However, there are many part-time job opportunities for historians while they complete their degrees. University history departments often hire graduate students to teach entry-level history classes, and college libraries seek history majors for their knowledge of facts and their database management skills. History majors can often find jobs on campus while they complete a higher-level degree if they choose, and many schools offer offsets of tuition for graduate students who function as teaching assistants. This helps control the cost of a post-graduate education and also gives the student some job experience to put on a resume once he or she has attained a degree.
PhD candidates in historical geography usually have a career goal of working as a college professor. However, many smaller colleges also hire professors in history and geography who have master’s degrees, although these professors usually do not earn the same amount as those with doctorates.
Geographical history is a fascinating field that, while not offering as many job opportunities as some other areas, is a good choice for someone who enjoys the research and study that goes along with this particular occupation.