From Curiosity to Career: How to Become a Folklorist

From Curiosity to Career: How to Become a Folklorist

Are you fascinated by the stories, traditions, and customs passed down through generations? Do you have a passion for preserving and studying folklore? If so, a career as a folklorist may be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will explore the path from curiosity to career in the field of folklore, outlining the steps you can take to become a successful folklorist. Whether you are just starting to explore this field or are already on your way, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and resources to help you achieve your goals.

Education and Training for Folklorists

1.1 Undergraduate Degree in Folklore or Related Field

To become a folklorist, it is recommended to pursue an undergraduate degree in folklore or a related field such as anthropology, cultural studies, or literature. These programs typically provide students with a foundational understanding of folklore theories, methodologies, and practices.

1.2 Graduate Studies in Folklore or Anthropology

Many folklorists further their education by pursuing graduate studies in folklore or anthropology. A master’s or doctoral degree in these fields can provide more advanced training in folklore research methods, cultural analysis, and fieldwork techniques.

1.3 Fieldwork and Research Experience

One of the essential components of becoming a successful folklorist is gaining real-world experience through fieldwork and research projects. Folklorists often spend time in communities, conducting interviews, collecting stories, and documenting cultural practices to better understand and preserve traditional knowledge. This hands-on experience is invaluable for aspiring folklorists looking to build their expertise in the field.

2. Specialized Skills and Knowledge

2.1 Understanding of Cultural Practices and Traditions

Folklorists must have a deep understanding of cultural practices and traditions in order to effectively study and analyze folklore. This includes knowledge of different cultural groups, their histories, beliefs, rituals, and customs. By having a strong understanding of cultural practices and traditions, folklorists are able to interpret and contextualize folklore within its cultural framework.

2.2 Proficiency in Research Methods and Analysis

Research is a key component of a folklorist’s work, and as such, proficiency in research methods and analysis is essential. Folklorists must be able to conduct thorough and rigorous research, including fieldwork, interviews, and archival research. They must also be skilled in analyzing data and drawing meaningful conclusions from their research findings.

2.3 Strong Communication and Writing Skills

Effective communication and writing skills are crucial for folklorists, as they must be able to share their research findings with both academic and non-academic audiences. This includes writing scholarly articles and books, presenting at conferences, and engaging with the public through outreach programs. Strong communication skills also enable folklorists to collaborate with other researchers and community members in their work.

3. Networking and Professional Development

Networking and professional development are crucial aspects of building a successful career as a folklorist. By connecting with other professionals in the field and staying informed about the latest trends and research, you can enhance your skills and opportunities for growth.

3.1 Joining Folklore Societies and Associations

One of the best ways to network with other folklorists and stay updated on industry news is by joining folklore societies and associations. These organizations often host events, conferences, and workshops where you can meet like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and collaborate on projects. Some popular folklore societies and associations include the American Folklore Society, the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, and the Folklore Society (UK).

3.2 Attending Conferences and Workshops

Attending conferences and workshops is another great way to network with other folklorists and learn from industry experts. These events provide opportunities to present your own research, participate in discussions, and gain valuable insights into the latest developments in the field. Look for conferences such as the annual American Folklore Society Meeting, the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research Conference, and regional folklore gatherings.

3.3 Building Relationships with Other Folklorists

Building relationships with other folklorists is essential for career growth and professional development. By collaborating on research projects, sharing resources, and seeking mentorship from experienced professionals, you can expand your knowledge and expertise in the field. Consider reaching out to established folklorists through social media, academic journals, or professional organizations to establish meaningful connections and foster a supportive community.


Embarking on the journey to become a folklorist is a rewarding and enriching experience for those with a passion for culture, storytelling, and preserving traditions. By fostering curiosity, pursuing education and training in folklore studies, and gaining hands-on experience in the field, aspiring folklorists can turn their passion into a fulfilling career. With dedication, perseverance, and a deep appreciation for the diverse expressions of human creativity, anyone can follow their dream of becoming a folklorist and make a meaningful contribution to the preservation and celebration of our shared cultural heritage.