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Careers

CAREER INFORMATION OVERVIEW

Before the recent recession, each year somewhere between 150 and 250 full-time positions were advertised in the United States for positions outside academia where a degree in Architectural History is among those listed as a requirement.  The most recent data, compiled in July 2013, shows a continued upward trend in the number of advertised positions, especially in historical research and evaluation and preservation planning and administration — two areas directly related to the areas of knowledge and skills addressed in our program.  During the most recent study period (July 2012-June 2013), the number of positions rose to 104, up slightly from 99 during the previous compilation in January 2013 and continuing the dramatic improvement over 2011-12, when there were 80 posted positions in June 2011-July 2012 and 55 positions posted in January-December 2011.  Despite still being below the average number of advertised positions in pre-recession years, some positions have repeated advertisements, suggesting that the following historical trend remains true:

There are more positions advertised than there are qualified architectural historians available to fill them!

CAREER INFORMATION INTERVIEWS

See also the article, “Careers for Historians: Architectural Historians,” from the North Carolina Museum of History.

SURVEY OF PROFESSIONAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY

The following information, maintained by the architectural history department, is intended to provide an overview of professional academic careers in architectural history outside academia based on a continuing review of the most recent position announcements in the field and information provided by employers.  Comments or career opportunity information may be sent to Karl Schuler at kschuler@scad.edu.

The present data was compiled in July 2013 from position listings published 7/12 through 6/13 (104 positions).

Current Distribution of Positions by General Categories of Employment:

Note: The five general categories listed here are described below.

position distribution pie graph Jul 2013

Trends in Position Distribution 2002-2013:

position distribution graph Jul 2013

Current Geographic Distribution of Positions:

Geographic trends map Jul 2013

Trends in Geographic Distribution 2002-2013:

Geographic trends Jul 2013

Education Requirements

A degree in architectural history is applicable to all position announcements employed in this survey. Nearly half of the announcements specifically named a degree in architectural history, usually along with other related disciplines; the remainder named an unspecified degree in a relevant field. The minimum education requirement was a bachelor’s degree but most listings state a preference for a graduate degree. The majority of listings in preservation planning and administration and in historical research and evaluation conformed with U. S. Department of the Interior definitions contained in 36CFR61. This specifies a master’s degree in an appropriate discipline or alternatively, a bachelor’s degree plus two years of relevant experience. Most listings in these categories stated a preference for a graduate degree and additional experience.

Skills and Specialized Knowledge
See individual descriptions of career categories.

Salaries
Following are averages of salary ranges as listed in position announcements, excluding additional benefits, rounded to the nearest $500. The upper salary level listed in such announcements may represent qualifications exceeding the minimum requirements specified for the position.

* Positions requiring a B.A. in architectural history or a related field and minimal experience: $29,500 – $45,000 (based on only 2 published salaries)
* Positions requiring an M.A. in architectural history or a related field or a B.A. plus two years of relevant experience (36CFR61), M.A. frequently preferred. Most positions specify an additional two to three years of experience: $42,000 – $57,500.
* Positions requiring or preferring an M.A. in architectural history or a related field with a minimum of three to five years of experience: $46,500 – $63,500.
* Positions requiring an advanced degree and more than five years of experience: $68,500 – $77,000.

General Categories of Employment

In broad terms, most non-academic positions in architectural history can be grouped into one of the following five categories.

1. Preservation Planning and Administration
This employment category is similar to Main Street management listed below and is interrelated with the following historical research and evaluation category. Professionals in the present field are primarily concerned with the planning and administration of preservation programs, providing technical support to the community and attending public meetings. Positions in this category are typically more office based and require more interpersonal skills than the following category.

Principal employers are state and local government agencies, including historic preservation offices and nonprofit organizations.

Duties include:

* development and implementation of historic preservation and historic zoning programs
* identifying and evaluating historic resources
* processing applications for historic property designation
* Providing technical assistance to the community and attending public meetings
* coordinating government programs with community groups

Skills and experience:

* writing and communication skills, especially interpersonal skills
* organizational skills, computer database management
* ability to interpret architectural plans and surveys
* knowledge of federal and local regulations

2. Historical Research and Evaluation
This field is the counterpart to preservation planning and administration, above. It involves completing field surveys, conducting research and completing the reports reviewed by state and local government agencies. Compared to preservation planning and administration this field is less office oriented, requiring more on-site work and travel.

Principal employers are architectural firms, cultural resource firms and government agencies.

Duties include:

* site investigation and documentation
* archival research on historic structures
* writing reports and applications for historic designation
* ensuring compliance with federal and local regulations
* often includes some travel

Skills and experience

* research and writing skills
* photography skills
* surveying/rendering skills
* knowledge of federal and local regulations

3. Historic Site Management and Curatorship
This field is analogous with museum curatorship but often includes aspects of historical research and evaluation, above and/or historic foundation management and administration, below.

Principal employers are local governments or private, nonprofit organizations.

Duties include:

* management of volunteers and staff
* development of educational programs
* research and documentation
* collections management
* public presentations

Skills and experience:

* museum experience/knowledge of museum practices
* documentation and research skills
* knowledge of history and historic furnishings
* public speaking skills
* supervisory skills

4. Historic Foundation Management and Administration

Positions in this field are rarely entry level and generally require experience in nonprofit organization administration coupled with a background in architectural history. In many cases duties include those of historic site management as well.

Principal employers are historic foundations.

Duties include:

* fundraising
* coordination of events
* budget management
* editing/publishing of foundation literature
* management of volunteers and staff

Skills and experience:

* strong writing, oral communication and interpersonal skills
* nonprofit fundraising experience
* supervisory experience

5. Main Street Management
Professionals in this field implement and manage downtown revitalization and preservation programs known as Main Street programs. These programs are assisted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Main Street Center. In addition to sharing many of the activities in the preservation planning and administration category, Main Street managers are also involved with marketing and fundraising.

Principal employers are nonprofit organizations.

Duties include:

* identifying and evaluating historic resources
* processing applications for historic property designation
* coordinating revitalization plans with business organizations
* marketing downtown assets to new business interests
* Providing technical assistance to the community

Skills and experience:

* strong writing, oral communication and interpersonal skills
* knowledge of Main Street program practices
* nonprofit management experience
* supervisory experience
* knowledge of federal and local regulations

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    January 22, 2010 10:31 am

    This is a great survey. Thanks for the information. I wonder if such a survey could be done for historic preservation consultants?

  2. Barbara Renfrow permalink
    February 1, 2010 6:22 pm

    A great source of information and the charts are very helpful. I wish I could take this and find a contractual job in historic preseration/cultural resource management where I live……Memphis, TN. I have a MA and have not found but one contractual job since graduaton three years ago. Any suggestions????

    • rwilliams permalink*
      February 1, 2010 7:30 pm

      Dear Ms. Renforth,

      Feel free to contact Prof. Karl Schuler in our department who compiles the data for suggestions as to where you can find position listings. His email is kschuler@scad.edu.

      Thanks for visiting our website.

      Robin Williams

  3. March 30, 2010 2:44 pm

    awesome resource, I will definitely be checking into this as I continue to research ways to get into the Architectural History field, thanks a bunch! If anyone has positions listings in the New England/ Northeast Region, I’m looking for just about anything!

    Thanks,

    Jared

  4. Catherine in Tucson permalink
    December 27, 2010 2:21 pm

    Great information! I am an architectural history consultant in Tucson AZ. I got most of my experience “hands-on” by doing research with a local architectural firm. I’ve been involved in several surveys, “obituaries” of buildings being torn down (some listed in historic neighborhoods), and belong to a modern architecture group. I am looking to make a move to Rocky Mount NC and hope to be able to get involved with the historic groups there and the Main Street Program. Thanks for the great site!

  5. July 22, 2012 9:58 am

    This is important information for Architectural Historians, and yes, there has been a survey for Historic Preservationists (consultants, specialists, etc.). In 10/2011, my website HISTPRES.COM, presented at the National Trust conference on trends in preservation employment. We analyzed 1436 jobs over 6/2010 to 6/2011, and interviewed 524 preservationists.

    Here are some take-aways:

    The most sought after skill by employers based on job descriptions is Management/Administration and Education/Interpretation, while the majority of those interviewed thought their best skills were Architectural History/Historical Research. Be aware that schools are not necessarily teaching what is requested, but you can tailor your professional explorations to those skills.

    The bulk of the opportunities were split between the Northeast and Southeast, specifically NYC, Boston and DC. Being geographically open is your absolute best bet while looking for employment.

    And specifically for Architectural Historians on this SCAD website…Architectural History positions are some of the most popular on our website so we post every position that we find. In our sample year there were 51 positions posted for Architectural Historians, 55% for private employers, started at $37,000 salary, and were primarily located in the Southeast.

    Finally, there is a growing number of Architectural History and Historic Preservation-degree granting programs to the point that there are approximately 500 new Master’s every year (in HP). I don’t have the numbers for AH, but I do not believe that there are more jobs as job seekers in this field.

    I am happy to share additional information and email you the full PDF presentation, just comment here or email me at info@histpres.com.

  6. muriel sharpley permalink
    January 15, 2013 10:39 pm

    what about positions and salaries in academia for those w/ a MA or MFA in Architectural History

    • rwilliams permalink*
      January 21, 2013 3:11 pm

      The survey does indicate the positions and salaries for students with an M.A. Since our program is the only one to offer the M.F.A., it is not indicated in the positions listings as a requirement, but as a Master’s degree meets (if not exceeds) the expectations of an M.A.

    • rwilliams permalink*
      January 21, 2013 3:14 pm

      I’ve just modified the statement about degree expectations to make it more explicit that the M.A. listed was in Architectural History or a related field. Thanks for the question.

  7. Vincenza Dine permalink
    March 12, 2013 2:36 am

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  13. Niels permalink
    December 17, 2013 8:57 am

    I am an architectural historian from the Netherlands Europe, currently in South Africa. My field of interest is shared built heritage (heritage from the colonial era). Doing research is my speciality. Are there research positions in the USA for Europeans?

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