How to Become a Freelance Historian
History inspires future in many ways. We learn a lot of lessons from history, which, in turn, helps in the construction and re-construction of the present and the preparation for the future. Despite the inconsistencies in history, we generally try to bridge the gaps and create a coherent and believable story, which may have varying levels of accuracy.
However, this job of connecting the dots is itself a tough task, and only a few who have read and analyzed numerous historical records and other evidence can perform it. Yes, the discussion is about none other than historians.
Historians are highly informed and respected individuals in the society, and this very fact makes the job of a historian exciting. Many historians are well-off because of their constant romance with history. So, if you are such a romantic, then you can very well make a career out of it.
If you wish to become a freelance historian, then you will have to do some homework before actually becoming one. So, what and all do we need to go through? Well, this article will point out the four key considerations involved in the making of a wonderful freelance historian:
1. Educational requirements of a freelance historian
Historians are professionals dealing with the study and assessment of history in multiple ways—this makes it all the more necessary for them to be adequately qualified to do the job. Under this head, we shall explore what it takes to become a freelance historian:
- The minimum educational qualification is the completion of 10+2 from a recognized institution, with at least 50 percent marks.
- Following the completion of 10+2, the candidate must obtain a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, with History being the primary subject of study. There are a number of degree courses in History such as B.A. in History or in Ancient History. You may also enroll in certificate courses in various branches of History such as an advanced certificate in the field of ancient or Medieval Indian History.
- While a bachelor’s degree will suffice for job purposes, many prefer to undertake post-graduation, and subsequently a Ph.D. in History, to increment job opportunities. These courses are advanced and cover in detail particular areas in History.
- To become a knowledgeable and venerated historian, you should seek admissions in well-recognized institutions offering related courses in the country such as the University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Ramjas College, etc.
- If your ambitions transgress national borders, then you may want to join elite institutions such as Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Oxford, Tokyo University, National University of Singapore, etc. These are among the top-notch institutions in the world but may cost you a fortune. Nevertheless, the institutes are reputed and offer high-quality educational services to students.
- Apart from educational qualifications, experience matters a great deal. You should seek internship under the guidance of experienced historians or institutional bodies such as the Archaeological Survey of India, museums, etc to hone knowledge and practical skills.
2. Skills needed to become a freelance historian
To become a well-informed and reputed historian in the freelance community, you will have to grow and develop the following mentioned skills:
- Curiosity: Historians are curious beings; they are interested in the past but do not readily accept the easily available explanations. They are facts digger and possess an uncanny relationship with theories and conspiracies. As a historian, you must not let curiosity die down with time. To keep the fire alive, read as much as possible, and do not get easily swayed away by what already exists.
- Neutrality: when you are perusing history, you cannot let your personal prejudices come in between. The conclusions you make must be logical and based on facts and evidence; prejudice and innate biases must be kept at bay. For example, if you unconditionally accept the supremacy of any particular culture, you will not be able to critically examine it.
- Extensive knowledge: One must keep close books and other forms of informative documents so as to facilitate the expansion of outlook and knowledge. The more you read on a particular historical event, the more diverse understanding you will achieve.
- Communication skills: Historians are often asked to make accounts of their observations along with the supporting facts and evidence. For this purpose, communication skills are important, without which you will not able to communicate your understanding legibly.
- Investigative and research skills: A historian, as mentioned before, is a curious being, and this curiosity is satisfied through rigorous investigation and research. You must be well acquainted with latest tools of research, and incorporate the same in your investigative studies.
- Traveling: If a historical event can be better understood through an on-the-spot investigation of a monument, you should be willing to do that. You must not feel overburdened by the idea of regular visits!
3. Where to work as a freelance historian?
Work opportunities are plentiful for historians, and many of them are highly lucrative. Some of the work opportunities have been mentioned below:
- Many historians are employed at schools and institutions of higher education. The pay rate will differ level by level. For example, a secondary school History teacher will earn less than a college level history teacher.
- Historians are recruited by government bodies for assistance in matters concerning management and preservation of historical heritages. These are highly paid officials and enjoy considerable reputation.
- You can offer freelance services to museums.
- If you wish to know more about the work opportunities, you should visit popular freelance websites which offer a common platform for both freelance historians and employers to work together. Most of these websites require a subscription fee, but the cost is not too high. Examples of such websites include freelance.com, worknhire.com, upwork.com, guru.com and linkedin.com.
All you need to do is create an account, upload a portfolio of relevant skills and submit an application. When you submit the application, make sure you send a proposal stating why you are fit for the job.
4. What is the pay rate?
On an average scale, the pay rate is usually between Rs. 30,000 and 50,000 per month; however, the pay scale may considerably vary with skills, qualifications, and experience. If you have started afresh, you might start with a relatively low pay rate, but if you have educational qualifications from a highly reputed institution, say Ramjas College, you might start with a handsome pay rate.
To know more about the pay scale and other aspects, you may join various associations and societies in India and beyond such as Museums Association of India, the Indian History and Culture Society, the World History Association, etc.