An architectural historian is a person who studies and writes about the history of architecture, and is regarded as an authority on it Architectural historians survey areas that are often threatened by extinction. They identify historic structures using high-quality photographs and standard forms to document architectural features, style, history, and significance to the community. They also study habitats—the neighborhoods and districts surrounding buildings. They research the history of an area and each building in it. After completing their research, they decide which buildings are important enough to be designated state or national historic properties. The architectural historians then complete detailed reports about these buildings
Most architectural historians have a bachelor's degree in history, architectural history, or art history. Others have backgrounds in city planning and architecture. Many jobs require a master's degree in architectural history. Architectural historians need to have excellent communication, computer, and research skills and must know a lot about history and architectural styles and features. With this expertise they provide a valuable service by recording and preserving historic structures—an important part of our heritage—for future generations
As many architectural historians are employed at universities and other facilities for post-secondary education, in addition to bachelor's degree, it is normal for colleges and universities to require the PhD degree for new full-time hires and a master's degree for part-timers. Publication is increasingly required by smaller schools, so graduate papers become journal articles and PhD dissertations become published monographs.
According to Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines the minimum professional qualifications in architectural history are a graduate degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation, or closely related field, with coursework in American architectural history, or a bachelor's degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation or closely related field plus one of the following:
- At least two years of full-time experience in research, writing, or teaching in American architectural history or restoration architecture with an academic institution, historical organization or agency, museum, or other professional institution; or
- Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of American architectural history.
Professional architectural historians typically work in colleges and universities, archival centers, government agencies, museums, and as freelance writers and consultants. In broad terms, they can be grouped into following two categories...
Common titles and job descriptions within Universities and research organizations might be as follows:
- Research Coordinator
- Professor in Architectural History
- Senior Lecturer in Architectural History
- Lecturer in Architectural History
- Researcher in Architectural History
- Research Associate in Architectural History
- Research Assistant in Architectural History
Most non-academic positions in architectural history can be grouped into one of the following five categories...
- Preservation Planning and Administration
- Historical Research and Evaluation
- Historic Site Management and Curatorship
- Historic Foundation Management and Administration
Following are averages of salary ranges as listed in position announcements, excluding additional benefits. The upper salary level listed in such announcements may represent qualifications exceeding the minimum requirements specified for the position.
According to a survey conducted by the architectural history department, Savannah College of Art and Design, on professional career opportunities in architectural history, was compiled in January 2010 from positions listed January–December 2009, averages of salary ranges in United States are below.
- a B.A. in architectural history or a related field and minimal experience: $30, 000-$38, 500
- an M.A. or a B.A. plus two years of relevant experience, M.A. frequently preferred. Most positions specify an additional two to three years of experience: $40, 500-$55, 000.
- an advanced degree and more than five years of experience: $61, 500- $79, 000.