What is it that former president George W. Bush, comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, and journalist Louis Theroux have in common? Well, if it weren’t for the context of the page, you’d probably never guess that they all have history degrees. In a nutshell, this provides a reflection of just how diverse the range of careers are for people who study history.
In essence, everything that has ever been done is history, which means that history affects us directly every day. Today’s society is primarily shaped by the historic periods of colonialism, industrialization, revolutions, disease epidemics, etc. History also spans across all eras, cultures, environments, and seasons, and is a factor that can be referenced for insight and knowledge into how the world got to the point where it currently is, and how things will probably unfold in the future.
Career-wise, what you can do with a specialization in history shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the ubiquity of history as a field in the society. People who study history are invaluable tools in helping to apply the lessons of the past in resolving current problems and usually have the capacity to apply an analytical mindset to all kinds of challenges and situations. Such analytical and problem-solving skills are relevant in almost every industry that focuses on the current societies and future developments, especially in the fields of politics, business, and academia.
Factors to Consider when Determining your Ideal Career in History
1. What are your favorite subjects or interests?
• If you like both history and art, working at a gallery or auction house would probably be the best path for you. You might also want to become an architectural technician or an architect, who specialize in projects that involve heritage areas and listed buildings.
• For those with a keen interest in politics and a burning desire to make the world a better place, you would fit in a wide range of career directions, including national or local politics, civil service, charity work, as well as in the foreign relations. The armed forces are also delighted to work with recruits who have an interest in history.
• With interest in media studies, history could lead you into a career path into broadcast or print journalism.
• Interest in leisure and tourism will help you find a job in various heritage sites, such as theme parks, stately homes, etc.
• When history is combined with administration skills, it could fit you in a wide range of business careers, and eventually into fields such as managing a historic property or working for a heritage charity.
• With theatre and drama studies, history could help you land a job as a re-enactor or as a costumed guide. With craft skills, it could help you develop a career in restoration work.
2. Do You Want to Get a Job Immediately After Leaving School?
Or would you prefer to join a training scheme, pursue further education, apprenticeship, or a higher-level education?
Of course, you may decide to mix and match them, so that you study part-time and work part-time. This way you’ll get some useful work experience during your gap year, start a career path that will give you a chance to train on the job, or even take history classes online.
3. Which Aspect of history is Most Fascinating to You?
• If you’re excited by the idea of learning about the origins of human societies from fragments and artifacts, archeology will be perfect for you.
• If you consider sharing knowledge with other people the greatest thrill, you should consider working as a teacher or in the museum.
• If records of the past are more of your thing, or analyzing ancient documents that open the window into how villages and towns evolved over the centuries, as well as how ancient people lived and worked, you should consider getting a job in a records office, train as a librarian that specializes in local history, or perhaps become an archivist.
How to Combine your Love of History with a Career
In the section below, you will find a number of history career suggestions that you can pursue based on your interests and preferences. Of course, they are not the only options, and it’s possible to get a few more.
It’s worth noting that some of the career can take you just about anywhere. There are many people who’ve studied history and went ton clerical, secretarial, IT, and administrative jobs. One of the main reasons why people take such kinds of jobs in the first places is that they ideally get them in the doors of a wide range of employers. When they are in already, they can improve their skills and take advantage of the career moves that might come up.
Administrative, secretarial, IT, and clerical staff are often needed by museums, heritage charities, firms that deal with restoration and conservation, stately homes or heritage sites, the media, university research departments, and practically every office or company that you can think of.
History Careers List: Typical Careers In History
1. Career in Teaching
It might be that a particular history teacher sparked your interest in the field, and would like to do the same for someone in the future. Regardless, if you feel that you have the flair of conveying your knowledge and enthusiasm for the discipline to others, teaching is certainly a great career path for you, whether you are interested in becoming a high school teacher where you will be instructing students in history, or a middle school teacher where history will be one of the subjects you teach.
The government is keen when it comes to getting new teachers on board, and there are a number of perks in form of grants and sometimes the remission of your student loans if you stay in the teaching profession for a certain amount of time. However, you should know that teaching is not an easy task. It requires patience, commitment, and a lot of hard work. Forget about the holidays for a moment and think about the late nights and weekends you might need to prepare lesson plans.
Keep in mind that becoming a secondary school teacher might require you to complete a professional teaching qualification.
2. Museum Curators and Technicians
The second option in our history careers list is becoming a curator. Museum curators are responsible for the handling of the collections within the museum. They often oversee the collections from acquisition to exhibit, and will sometimes facilitate the sale of certain items. Aside from evaluating, authenticating, classifying, and displaying museum treasures properly, curators might also be involved in raising funds for the museum, conducting research on different art pieces, writing grant proposals, as well as promoting collections or events.
With the relevant qualifications (such as a degree, and a post-graduate qualification in Museum studies), you can become a museum technician. These ideally work with curators to prepare the various museum items for display, and in caring for the items while in storage or on the museum floor. They also help the curators in authenticating and evaluating collections. Technicians often speak with the public about the various collections, and can even lead museum tours.
3. Heritage Sites, Historic Houses, and Organizations
Heritage sites have a wide range of jobs, right from the Property Manager, which is a job that requires exceptional administrative and management experience, down to the ranks of the supporting staff. There are many heritage sites in the country, along with historic buildings, that require agricultural, traditional, and horticultural management.
The jobs available in these places include conservators, administrators, housekeeping staff, wardens, ticket selling and visitor information staff, café and shop staff, as well as gardeners. Most of these places have regional offices, which will have the usual range of office staff along with education staff, public and press relations people, personnel management, etc.
4. Record Offices and Archives
These are usually great resources for anyone interested in history, whether it’s the nation, local governments, or simply citizens. Therefore, these offer a wide range of career opportunities for people who love history, and are sociable and/or get on well with other people, since these places don’t just store information safe, but also make it easily accessible to anyone who needs it and has an ever-increasing thrust into education.
Archivists ideally focus on historical documents, particularly those that originated from a certain time period. The duties of an archivist include the authentication of rare and recently unearthed documents, researching items that could be added to a collection, carefully preserving documents that are thought to be of high historical value, and providing public outreach or education, such as in dealing with the media or guiding tours. Along with the documents, archivists can also work with photographs, electronic records, sound recordings, maps, and websites.
A degree in history often serves as a key foundation for librarians, whose work consists of helping other people to locate documents, books, and other information for work, research, or pleasure. Librarians may work directly with administrative services or with the public, and they can be found in academic libraries, schools, and public libraries.
Most libraries are ready to recruit university students as part-time library assistants. One great way to find out whether you would enjoy working in a library is simply getting a part-time job there while you pursue your studies. If the job feels appealing enough to you, consider taking a post-graduate training course on librarianship, ideally as you continue to work in the library.
Of course, reference libraries and general libraries tend to cover a whole range of subjects and the search skill you learnt as a student will go a long way in helping you help others in their search or use the library better. There are also specialist history libraries, that might be of interest to you, and major libraries that have a specialist history sections.
6. Research and Universities
Many universities are like small towns and do offer a wide range of career opportunities. Many of these are actually filled by students who work part-time, as you are likely to discover when you get there. While there are some grants that exist for postgraduate studies, most of the research opportunities are post-doctorate or post MA, and these are fought over quite fiercely. However, they can be worth fighting for.
Many of the history careers within universities combine both research and teaching. Faculty members often serve as tutors and lecturers, while also conducting research in their areas of expertise. The main traits you should have when considering to pursue a career in academia are a desire for facts, a deep curiosity about the world, and a belief that history can inform the present and help shape the future.
Archaeologist are often graduates, though there are plenty of opportunities for part-qualified or unqualified site workers. The increasingly technical area of archaeology will require specialist skills.
8. Conservation of Artefacts or Buildings
It’s quite unlikely that you pursued a history degree and decided to follow a career path in any of these routes. The usual route is taking a specialist degree, such as restoration or architecture, or taking a non-degree course training such as carpentry, stonemasonry, bricklaying, metalwork, etc. that lets you add specialist training in conservation techniques. Some of the architectural firms actually specialize in the conservation work.
9. Civil Service
There are plenty of opportunities for both non-graduate and graduate levels in the civil service, and a degree in history will certainly be a bonus. For example, people who deal with planning applications are most likely going to be involved in the search of records, and a knowledge of the local history will be important.
If say you are in the Diplomatic Service, it goes without saying that if the government posts you to its Embassy in a given country, you’ll need to have some knowledge about the history of the country. Politicians of different parties often need researchers that are also good in history.
10. The Media
For history graduate, careers in media can include writing, journalism, broadcasting, editing, and other things related to media, with jobs ranging from radio deejaying or TV scheduling. The media roles are, quite surprisingly, popular career choices among history graduates, probably due to the role that the media plays when it comes to disseminating information and news to large, often diverse audiences. A deep knowledge of history equips you with the cultural sensitivity and understanding required for the work, and inform your current knowledge of the prevailing social and political issues.
History graduates can also become writers and editors for books, online media, and other print publications. For people who want to write and edit non-fiction content, you can choose to specialize in history. Your background will offer you the subject material you need for the career. Keep in mind that there’s also a huge market for historical fiction, and if you’re creative, you can use your background in history to write novels.
11. Career in Politics
One of the most prominent history graduates is the former president George W. Bush. Regardless of your views on Bush’s politics, it’s enough proof that a career in history can be high profile. Politics and history are interwoven, though politics is a less typical career choice for most history graduates.
Nonetheless, political careers are well suited for history scholars, especially those who specialize in the analysis of key political events, the complex elements involved in political leadership and opposition, as well as the historical development of governmental systems. Unlike most of the heritage and conservation roles, a career in politics will let you use what you’ve learned to instigate political change and development.
History Careers List: Less Typical Options
12. Working with Art Galleries
The educative departments of galleries and art museums are often looking for history graduates that also have teacher training and experience, though there are also support roles for the unqualified people. In the world of art, there are also conservation opportunities that exist, but most require some very specific degree and course since there are important practical skills that you need to learn first.
Jobs that don’t require a degree, ideally those that let you learn while on the job, including things like box office attendants, information assistants, cafe’ and shop staff, etc. To work in the exhibitions department, you need to possess practical skills like carpentry or graphic design. The large museums in cities, as well as busy tourist areas, may also have jobs, albeit seasonal, for things like costumed living history re-enactors.
Having a history degree will also be a bonus if you want to apply for clerical, IT, or administrative positions in the museum, though you should ideally get some relevant skills and administrative to back it up, such as IT.
Also known as lawyers or barristers, attorneys need to have an excellent knowledge and memory for precedents, such as the legal cases that occurred in the past where the judgment might be considered to have led to a precedent that’s applicable to a similar case today.
History graduates are highly valued in the legal profession since they possess strong skills in critical reasoning. Most of the roles involved in the profession will obviously require further qualifications, though history graduates can still be employed in administrative and office roles in the sector.
If you’d rather pursue a legal career professionally, you’ll have to earn a law degree after graduating from college. In fact, most of the law school applicants have a history degree.
14. A Career in Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
History graduates are reputable for having strong communication and analytical skills, which makes them ideal candidates for the communication-based roles in organizations. Careers in advertising, marketing and public relations are well suited to history graduates, especially those who have specialized in understanding how past events and/or trends have played a role in shaping the modern culture and society, as it prepares them to evaluate and predict the behavior of the target audiences and markets in the current times.
15. Career in Business and Commerce
Although this is open to graduates from different disciplines, a career in business and commerce would suit history graduates, particularly in relation to how capitalism and industries have grown and adapted through various stages in history, as well as ideas about how they will continue to grow and adapt in the future. For some specialized roles and to advance your career prospects in this area, consider taking a post-graduate degree in the relevant subject.
16. Park Ranger
Although a park ranger, interpretive specialist, and park naturalist aren’t considered a historian, and the job requires a specialization, many of the jobs will require the rangers and guides to provide historical backgrounds for the site. Many employers hire history majors to work on their parks, heritage sites, and landmarks across the country.
Park rangers ideally teach the visitors about the history and features of the site. Their role involves guiding travelers on tours, answering questions from visitors, and conducting workshops. Park rangers in the American parks and other heritage sites are federal government employees. Those working in the state and local facilities are usually employees of those municipalities.
17. The Military and Police
While the current military deal with modern equipment, situations, and weaponry, it’s good to know that ever Air Force base, every regiment, and every ship has its own history, of which it’s very proud of. As such, they are delighted when a new recruit with an interest in history turns up.
The police also have a relatively warm attitude towards history, since studying history means studying societies, cultures, and people. The research skill gained in this might come in handy in offering background support staff jobs that involve the analysis of certain crime patterns.
The last (and definitely not least) item on our history careers list is becoming a historian. Historians are tasked with studying diaries, personal letters, photographs, newspapers, and other resources to study the past. They essentially collect, analyze, and interpret information. They then make presentations and write books or research pieces on their theories and findings.
Historical associations, governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations are often looking for historians. They also give lectures in universities and colleges and provide insight into ongoing research. Most of the jobs require a doctorate or a master’s degree in history.