History of Science and Technology

The field of science and technology history involves researching and analyzing social movements, people and machines. Find information about degree options here, as well as what you might earn as a historian, college professor or museum professional.

Is the History of Science and Technology for Me?

Overview of the Field

The history of science and technology is primarily concerned with humankind's understanding of the natural world and our evolving ability to manipulate our surroundings. In a degree program, you might explore the worldwide circulation of knowledge and the impact of science and technology on culture. You could also study the connections between public health and racism, the development of environmental knowledge or the production of food. Medical history is commonly incorporated into this discipline.

Career Options

A formal study of the history of science and technology may lead to a career in academia or museum work. For instance, you might become a teacher at the high school or college level or a museum curator. Career options for history majors can also include historical preservation or archival work. Depending on your level of education, you might also become a research historian.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, the median annual salary for historians was $55,180, while postsecondary history teachers earned $66,790. During the same reporting period, archivists and curators earned median annual salaries of $49,110 and $50,550, respectively. The BLS predicted that the number of jobs for historians would grow by 6% nationwide, while postsecondary teachers would experience a 19% increase in employment. Nationwide, a 17% growth in jobs was projected for archivists, with a 13% increase in opportunities expected for curators through 2022 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Study the History of Science and Technology?

Undergraduate Programs

As a high school student, you can begin learning about the history of science and technology by taking courses in history, the hard sciences and computer studies. Next, at a 4-year accredited college or university, you can enroll in a history of science and technology program. If your school does not award a degree in this particular field of study, you might major in history while taking classes that cover major scientific discoveries or events. Topics of study may include the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Age, sociology of work and women's place in science.

A bachelor's degree in the history of science and technology may qualify you for government work or professional writing. If you want to become a high school history teacher, you can enroll in a teacher-training program and earn state licensure.

Graduate Programs

Although some master's degree programs are available, obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in History, either on campus or online, might open the door to more opportunities in the field. Graduate classes may focus on developments within specific geographic regions or periods of time, like early European science, Asian medicine or contemporary biomedical studies. Other subjects you may explore are the history of labor and industry, socio-historical analysis and perspectives on technology. A Ph.D. usually takes six years to complete, during which time, you'll develop research skills and complete your dissertation.

A master's degree might help you qualify for a position as an archivist or a curator, as well as a teaching job at a high school or community college. As a graduate of a Ph.D. program, you may have a better chance of obtaining a museum job or becoming a university professor. You could also work as a historian in a public or private institution, such as the National Museum of American History, the National Science Foundation or the National Library of Medicine. Engaging in noteworthy research and writing projects, or pioneering new subjects in future technologies and Internet studies, may help you advance in the field.

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