A career in History

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History job description introduction

People are fascinated by the past. Finding out about our ancestors and how they lived is an absorbing leisure activity for many people. Some research their family trees or collect antiques for their homes. There are many local history groups and lifelong learning classes aimed at encouraging people to find out more about the history of their communities.

For some people, however, history is more than a hobby. Careers in history involve discovering, preserving, recording and interpreting objects and records from the past. Another important aspect of the work is to present this information in ways that everyone can learn from and enjoy. This book will give you an insight into the working lives of some of the people involved in this field.

A range of skills

While working in history involves working with material from the past, new technology is important, too. Almost everyone featured in this book uses information technology skills at work. Computers and hi-tech equipment are used to catalogue and record objects and documents. The internet is an important research tool, and creating a website is a good way of sharing historical information. In addition, heritage and culture organisations usually rely on teams of support staff, with a wide range of skills.

Flexible people

A lot of history-related job opportunities are offered on short-term or fixed-term contracts. This means you need to be adaptable, determined and committed. You may have to move around the UK and change jobs several times before finding permanent employment. You should also be flexible about working hours. Tourist attractions like museums and historic houses, and workplaces which provide a service to the public such as libraries, need to be open outside normal working hours so that people can visit them. This means that in many jobs you may be required to work in the evenings or at weekends.

Work experience

There is keen competition for many history-related jobs and courses, so employers and course selectors usually ask applicants to demonstrate knowledge and practical experience. Many of the people featured here recommend that you look for voluntary work or a work experience placement with a library, museum or other historical organisation. As well as giving you an insight into the work, and helping you to decide whether it appeals to you, it will show prospective employers that you are keen and committed.

If you like the idea of bringing the past to life and sharing your enthusiasm with others, use this book as a starting point to find out more about working in history.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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