Many people view history as things that happened in the past, never to be looked at again. After all, aren’t we supposed to move on the from past? Truth is, though, history is vital to both our present and future. By studying history, society can help shape the future for the better.
If you are interested in history and think you might want to pursue a career in a related field, then earning a history degree is one of the best career choices you will ever make.
Let’s take a look at the best jobs for history majors, including expected salaries and tips for getting the most out of your degree.
What are the Jobs You Can Get With a History Degree?
The answer to this question is fairly broad given that history affects every part of society. Everything that happens transforms into a part of history, so no matter how you view things it is easy to see that history plays a part.
With a degree in history, you will be able to assess how actions during the past can be used to resolve problems that are occurring in the present. You can also use history to create and implement ideas that will help deter obstacles from occurring in the future.
An analytical mindset is essential to earning a degree in history, so you will want to make sure you excel in problem-solving. Regardless of the industry that you choose to enter into with your history degree, your problem-solving skill set will be of the utmost value.
As we take a look at the jobs you can acquire with a degree in history, we will start with the most common ones, followed then by the lesser common fields to enter into.
Archiving and Heritage
Managing information is a must for libraries, museums, galleries, and other locations that provide access to historical archives. With a degree in history, you can easily land a job for an organization that focuses on archiving and heritage. Your role within an organization like this will require you to perform upkeep and organize the information to the best of your ability. It is important to realize that the formats in which the information is maintained will vary from one place to another. For example, a library may include information kept in book form, while an animal museum will keep the content in taxidermy form. An artifacts gallery will, of course, require you to manage the artifacts.
Your job as an archivist will likely be extremely diverse. While much of the time you will be performing administrative duties, a lot of your time will also be devoted to curation and research. The more knowledge you can acquire through research about the information you are managing, the more successful you will be in your role.
Teaching and Research
A large percentage of people who earn a degree in history use their credential to land a job as a teacher or research specialist. Taking on the role of a teacher is a great career move to make, especially since you can teach at a primary, secondary, or postsecondary level. Please keep in mind, though, that an advanced degree will likely be needed to teach at a postsecondary level. If you are wanting to teach at a primary or secondary level, you will probably only need a bachelor’s degree. The higher the degree level you have, though, the more money you are likely to earn.
If you opt to teach at a postsecondary level, your role will probably extend beyond just teaching. The university or college that you teach for will likely want you to expand your area of expertise by conducting lots of research; this is because universities are often funded through grants to expand the amount of knowledge they have in a certain field of study.
It is also within the academic history field that you can find your way to a career in writing or broadcasting. Teachers of history often find themselves asked to serve as an outlet for sharing their knowledge with the world. To excel as a teacher in the field of history, it is pertinent that you possess a deep curiosity for the world, including the facts of how it came to be as it is today on both an economic and governmental level.
Business and Commerce
For many people, studying history is rather boring. And then for other people, their true passion lies in understanding why things took place the way they did and what the events led up to. The truth is, though, you don’t have to be a history geek to benefit from earning a degree in this field of study. In fact, a history credential can do wonders for those working in the business world.
Sure, you don’t need a degree in history to land a job within the business and commerce industries, but having an extensive amount of knowledge relating to the history of business and capitalism can be a major asset to employers. The better you understand how the economy works and why it works the way it does, the more likely you are to help businesses excel in their endeavors.
It is highly suggested that you earn a postgraduate degree in a related subject of the industry you are wanting to work in if you use your history degree to land a business or commerce role.
If you think that understanding history doesn’t pay off well in the business and e-commerce industries, you need to think again. Not that long ago, a man was in Germany studying for an additional credential after earning his American legal history degree. While studying, he also took on freelance jobs to help pay the bills. One day he got a wind to put in a bid on a big project, and by big we are talking three-million-euro big.
When the man was invited to give his sales pitch, the meeting started out with leisurely conversation and the person giving the interview looked up to a painting on the wall and asked who painted it. The man replied with ” Matisee, I think.” The conversation then continued with business topics, but every so often, a few other history-related questions were asked, in which the man replied with the correct answers.
Finally, the student asked why the history questions were being asked and the German VP said he wanted to make sure the student understood history because it was important to his business.
Only a few days prior a very qualified applicant had given his sales pitch but stated he didn’t need to know or understand history. Consequently, the French client walked out of the room and took his three-million-euro account with him, waiting for the right person to come along who had an appreciation for history.
When it comes to the legal industry, history majors are highly valued. Why is this? Well, it is mostly because those with a degree in history have strong analytical and critical reasoning skills. And while many legal roles will require that you earn additional credentials — such as passing the BAR exam — if you don’t want to take this career route, your history degree should suffice for an administrative or office role in the legal industry.
If you prefer to work in the media field, you can take comfort in knowing your degree in history will be of immense value. From journalism to broadcasting to content creation, media careers are extremely popular for those history majors. Why is this? Mostly it is because the media plays a huge role in disseminating information and news to the public at large. With your knowledge of history that you acquire while earning your degree, you will gain a cultural knowledge as well as a cultural sensitivity, allowing you to disseminate news and information to the public according to proper political and social standards.
It should come at no surprise that history and politics are interlinked with one another quite tightly. While a political career is not common among history majors, they are nonetheless well suited to fill political roles; this especially applies to history majors who have chosen to focus their studies on analyzing key political events and governmental systems. Unlike those who fill research and heritage roles, a history major who pursues a career in politics will be able to use his or her knowledge to develop political movements that can change our future for the better.
Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising
Because of the first-class analytical and communication skills that history graduates possess, many of them are able to secure communication-based roles within organizations. If you believe this is a career path you want to follow, you should focus the majority of your studies while earning a history degree on how past events have helped mold modern society and our cultures. In doing this, you will be well-suited to analyze and predict the behavior of markets, allowing you to pinpoint targeted audiences and develop effective marketing strategies.
A Closer Look at the Best Jobs for History Majors
We just covered a basic overview of common and uncommon career paths for history majors. Now let’s take a closer look at more specific career paths.
Known for being one of the most sought-after professions for history majors, a history professor normally makes about $73,000 a year. The top ten percent of earners in this line of work make upward of $120,000 a year. Because so many people pursue this career, it is no surprise that competition is fierce, making it extremely difficult to land a job as a history professor. Do keep in mind that there are extensive and intense educational requirements to become a history professor, with most positions mandating a doctorate degree. Your role as a history professor will generally include teaching classes, giving lectures, and conducting lots of research.
There is much writing and editing involved in earning a degree in history. Because of this, you will have plenty of experience to become a writer or editor. From magazines to online sites, you can easily secure a job. You may even find yourself writing your own history book and publishing it. Entering into the profession of a writer or editor with a history degree does not necessarily mean you have to write about history. It is your experience in writing that will help you land a job, and it can be in any industry. As a writer you will likely earn upward of $50,000 a year, while an editor makes a bit less, earning about $48,000 annually.
Advertising and Marketing
The advertising sector is all about persuasion. Those with a degree in history learn how to communicate in a persuasive manner, making them well-qualified for a position in marketing. And to your advantage, the marketing industry is booming, especially with so much marketing taking place online. You should have no problem using your history degree to land a job as an advertising or marketing specialist. Your salary in this line of work will probably range anywhere from $67,000 to $82,000 a year.
Another one of the most common roles that a history major pursues is that of a librarian. In this line of work, you will spend much of your time organizing and filing data and information according to various classifications and categorizations. Because history majors spend lots of time researching and organizing information during their studies, this makes them a perfect fit for filling the role of a librarian. The average annual salary for a librarian is about $56,000.
Because history and politics go hand in hand, it seems that all politicians would have a degree in history, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, few do have this type of degree. Still yet, if you earn a degree in history and then decide you want to pursue in a career in politics, you will have a significant advantage over those who don’t possess this credential. Earning a history degree gives you a foundational knowledge of the way in various governments shape the world. As a politician with a history degree, you can expect to make more than $100,000 a year.
To excel in the role of a journalist, you will need to have excellent communication skills. Your writing skills will need to be impeccable, and you should have a keen eye for research. Fortunately, as you earn a degree in history you will be honing in on these skills, sharpening them and improving your value to the world as a journalist. Whether you want to be a journalist for a newspaper, TV station, or magazine, a history degree will set you up perfectly. This job has a varying degree in pay based on the employer you work for. Or if you prefer, you can even freelance. Typically, though, a journalist will start out making around $46,000 a year.
Historians and lawyers have a primary characteristic that is almost exactly the same — they use data and facts to draw a conclusion, arguing that one way is right over another way. Because of this similarity, a degree in history often propels a history major to pursue a career in law. It is imperative, however, to keep in mind that a history degree will not suffice for you to become a lawyer. You will still need to earn the proper credential to do so. If you think this is a career path you want to follow, it is highly recommended that you earn a history degree while at the same time specializing in pre-law.
Do you have a passion for history and being outdoors? If so, then you should consider using your degree in history to become a Park Ranger. There are thousands of parks all across the nation that provide guided tours by Park Rangers, giving you the ultimate opportunity to put your degree to work. Not only will you be able to research and learn about history in your studies, but you can experience first hand in your role as a Park Ranger. The average salary for someone in this role is about $60,000 a year.
This is one of the most challenging roles you can pursue with a degree in history. As a historical author, you will have to devote years of your life to tireless research. Your writing abilities will need to be top-notch and you will need to have a deep, extensive knowledge about the part of history you are wanting to write about. To be successful in this line of work, you will need to use your own ideas and conceptualizations to develop an interesting perspective on the topic you wish to write about. The pay isn’t all that great for historical authors, earning about $47,000 a year. But if you sell a hit book, you could earn millions.
Understanding How Jobs for History Majors Help Fuel the Corporate World
The history discipline is one that is very advantageous when it comes to the corporate world. Those who become historians tend to be well-equipped to have a thorough understanding of the influence societal development plays on both the world’s financial and non-financial events. More so, they are well-versed in understanding financial transactions and various models.
When you’re studying for your history degree, you are going to develop effective problem-solving skills. And whether you have an existing background in music therapy or health science, studying history still provides you with a crucial perspective on historical events that can benefit your profession in many ways.
What Skills Do Those With a History Degree Bring to the Business World?
With a history degree, you are going to bring many vital skills to the business world that you likely would not have acquired had you not earned the degree. First and foremost, you are going to develop extensive analytical skills as well as perfected oral and written communication capabilities. More so, you will be able to solve problems using detail-oriented approaches, which enables you to develop solutions that are both more effective and efficient in the business world.
Those with a degree in history also become distinguished in being able to carry out research and create presentations using various forms of technology. This is of the utmost value in the world of business and e-commerce. You will also find that you are able to work independently as well as well within large groups and your interpersonal skills will shoot through the roof.
What Are History Graduates Lacking and How to Overcome These Issues?
just like any field of study, you aren’t going to learn anything and everything when earning a degree in history. Many history graduates lack accounting and statistical skills as well as have little exposure to working with advanced software functions; all of these skills are essential to excelling in any line of work these days.
Fortunately, it is quite simple to graduate with such skills when earning a history credential, and it all it takes is signing up for two to four courses covering such topics. Even the most basic of accounting courses will expose students to software programs like Excel and help develop accounting and statistical skills. If preferred, you can even major in history and minor in business or accounting.
Where Are History Graduates Working?
Many people believe that earning a history degree is only for those who want to become librarians or teachers. In all actuality, though, it’s one of the most versatile credentials a person can earn. Being that it touches on all aspects of human endeavor, including economics, arts, science, health, language, and more, a history degree expands your occupational capabilities and opportunities.
A large percentage of those graduating with a degree in history continue their studies by going to law school and there is a high number who also find much success in business and publishing/media.
A survey was recently conducted at Vanderbilt and it was discovered that 30 percent of those with a history degree worked in business. The University of New Hampshire also conducted a study and it was found that 23 percent of history degree owners became employed by large corporations.
Did you know that those who major in history tend to have higher median salaries than those who study other humanities? And even when compared to those who major in education, those with a history credential earn the same or more; this also applies when comparing history majors to those with degrees in communications and international relations.
Employers are constantly on the lookout for workers who are creative and smart, and with a history degree, you get to showcase to the whole world that you explaining facts and visualizing various topics in creative ways.
Earning a degree in history will take several years, especially if you pursue a master’s or doctorate level degree. You can rest assured, though, that the job market for history majors is very good, making it simple for you to land a job as soon as you graduate. Want to work while you are earning your degree? If so, make sure you take advantage of any internships available.