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Sarah Price

Education is of course the big one. In general, professional historians and professional archeologists are supported by research universities, and they spend some time researching and some time teaching. Pursuing a graduate degree is essentially the first step in the career path for a historian or archeologist and marks a transition in how you approach the field (learning about others work vs. beginning to do your own). Another common profession for historians/archeologists is museum curatorship.

However, many people major in History or Archeology and end up with a career in a totally different field. My BA is in Classics (Latin Literature) and my master's is in Greek and Roman History, but I work in Silicon Valley at a high-tech company running social media and community engagement for my brand (go figure).

I found that the process of writing my master's thesis was hugely valuable in honing my critical thinking skills, my research skills, and my writing skills, and those are useful in just about any career.

One more note, history and archeology at a professional level are quite different from at a student level. At a student level, you are often looking at work that other researchers have done and synthesizing your own conclusions. At the professional level, you are expected to have knowledge of previous work and build upon it, but to come up with your own ideas/hypotheses and test them against actual primary sources or other data. At the professional level, history/archeology are both very scientific in that regard. Personally I thought it was much more interesting at the professional level, and I wish I had viewed the fields that way when I was a student, too – as true sciences, testing theories against data, rather than as learning what others believed happened in the past.

Answered 9 years ago

Sarah Price