Someone who continually studies and writes about history is known as a historian. It is a professional occupation, and generally only those with graduate degrees are given the title. Historians spend their careers researching history and the significance of various events. Often, they aim to make a cohesive narrative of given parts of history. They usually specialize in a specific time period, but command widespread knowledge in all time periods.
A professional historian generally must have a doctorate (PhD) degree in his chosen field of study. To be successful, this person must regularly publish works based on his research, and a history student's doctoral thesis often develops into his first book. Many students get an undergraduate education in history as preparation for a different field, such as law or philosophy.
The job market for people in this field is relatively limited, as knowledge of history isn't seen as a great asset to most enterprises. An individual can usually find work at a library or university, where he can continue his work and research. Archival centers and government agencies also regularly employ historians. Many choose to teach so that they can be responsible for passing their views of history down to the rest of society, while others choose to work as freelance consultants and, for a set fee, conduct research for their clients as needed.
Some historians are more active than others, and actually visit and explore the sites of historical events of interest in order to gain more information or insight. Others confine themselves to the depths of archives and libraries, searching for the elusive passages that will allow them to continue their work. Either way, their research into the past provides insight about how society advanced to its present state.
A person who works in history usually chooses to specialize in the field that most interests him. This can be as broad as “medieval history” or as specific as “Civil War history.” Sometimes, individuals even specialize in “pre-history,” the time before written history.
One issue of debate for historians is neutrality. Traditionally, these professionals are supposed to conduct their work as neutrally as possible to give an unbiased representation of historical events. Some choose to allow personal opinion to influence their choices in recording the past, however, and while many find this practice to be unacceptable, others have no issue with it.