For a lot of people, history is a rather boring subject to study, especially when compared to something like science or technology. Perhaps this is why there is a great demand for history majors. According to an issue of Perspectives on History, there was a great decline (9.1% from the year before) in the number of people earning a degree in history back in 2014. The decline from 2013 to 2014 was the biggest year-to-year change for the number of undergraduates earning a history degree since 1992.
One of the reasons contributing to this decline was the 2008 economic recession. Parents and students collaborated with one another regarding their best degree options, and for many, there was a common misconception that a history degree is useless. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The increase in STEM education also sparked the decline in students majoring in history. People started asking themselves, what can I do with a history degree? And if they weren’t knowledgeable on the endless ways to put a history degree to use, they often touted this type of credential as being irrelevant to their career aspirations.
We’ve put together a valuable go-to guide you can lean on as a resource for understanding the numerous reasons to study and earn a history degree.
What Can You Do With a History Degree? 5 Career Paths
The first five reasons to earn a degree in history relate to the career opportunities you’ll have. This credential definitely has its perks in that you can earn a lot of money. More importantly, it guides you down a path to help you secure a job that you truly have a passion for, like becoming a park ranger. You can even study immigration and work for the government as an immigration specialist.
The average annual salary for a librarian is a cool $58,520. Those in the top 10% of earners make about $91,620 a year. And even those in the lowest 10% bring home an annual salary of more than $34,000. You’ll need to earn a master’s degree to become a librarian. You may or may not need a teaching certificate.
One of the neatest aspects of earning a history degree to become a librarian surrounds the fact that you can find employment in a variety of fields. Elementary schools, intermediate schools, high schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, and government facilities like prisons all employ librarians. As a librarian working in a school setting, you’ll likely make anywhere from $63,000 to $66,000 a year. The top earners of librarians are typically employed through a federal entity.
With a passion for history and a love for being outdoors, you can easily earn an online history degree to become a park ranger. The median salary for a park ranger is right at $60,000 a year, and the minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree.
Continuing your education to earn a master’s credential is highly recommended as it will shine a favorable light on you in the eyes of employers. You will find most job openings for park rangers to be through the government. Park rangers are often referred to as fish and game wardens. Although the two are very similar, a park ranger tends to take on a heavier load of responsibilities.
Using your history degree to become a history professor is an excellent achievement. Through the year 2024, the projected job growth rate for history professors is 13%. If you plan to teach history at a post-secondary school in the United States, you’ll earn close to $100,000 a year. Top earners in this field earn an impressive annual salary of more than $150,000.
Your salary as a history professor is largely impacted by a variety of factors, including your level of education, any certifications you may have, and the number of years you have in experience. The majority of history professors hold a doctorate degree and have at least 15 years of experience in the teaching field. They also work for companies with an average staff size ranging from 100 to 1,000. Very few history professors are employed in the retail and wholesale industries. The most of them work for an educational, government, or non-profit entity.
High School History Teacher
High school history teachers make about $58,000 a year. Those in the top 10% make upward of $90,000 while those in the bottom 10% have an annual salary of around $38,000. If you have a passion for teaching young students, this is the perfect career choice. Even better, there’s a high demand for high school teachers.
Through the year 2026, the projected job growth rate is close to 8%. The best paying states for high school history teachers are Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, and New York. Want to teach even younger students? Elementary and middle school history teachers earn about the same amount of money as high school teachers.
Historical analysts and researchers have a truly unique job. They get to explore information from the past to deliver phenomenal solutions and products to today’s consumers. A lot of people who earn an online history degree choose to pursue the career of a historical analyst as a way to enter the marketing industry. Studying economics and politics from the past, they are able to propel clients’ brands toward success by helping them create and deploy strategic marketing methods.
The average market research analyst makes upward of $51,000 a year. On the high end, you’re looking at earning close to $74,000. And even on the low end, you’ll make around $40,000 a year.
Reasons to Study History and Earn a Research Degree
If you’ve ever traveled before, then you undoubtedly know that cultures vary from one geographical location to the next. Sometimes, you don’t even have to travel very far to step into the atmosphere of a different culture. In the United States alone, you’ll find an assortment of cultures in different regions of the country.
Studying history gives you a chance to not only explore different cultures but to educate yourself on how those cultures came to be. You’ll learn about different traditions, religions, and much more. Understanding cultures and how they came to be is imperative for understanding why people are the way they are.
Studying history also helps you understand yourself better. Think about it. YOU are a part of history. Every action we take, in one way or another, impacts our surroundings. Whether it be going for a swim or ordering a juicy ribeye from the local steakhouse, our actions influence the local economy.
Take the ordering steak as an example. Ordering a steak means you’re at a restaurant; this directly correlates to the economy in that someone is working at the restaurant. There’s also the fact that the steak came from a cow that was once on someone’s farm. Farmers play an important role in almost every culture. As you study history, you’ll see how each of your actions tie into society as a whole.
Going to college to earn a history degree gives you deep insight about current issues and how they came to be. It helps you understand the root of the problem at hand, which then makes it easier to come up with effective solutions.
For example, if your hometown has high crime rates, you can study the city’s history to see why crime is on the rise. You may discover that the construction and use of a new penitentiary in your hometown is resulting in many felons taking up residence in the town once they are released. In knowing this, you can then start to create solutions that mitigate the high number of felons and previous drug dealers from settling in your town. Perhaps the creation and implementation of a prison-based program that connects soon-to-be-released felons with access to residential housing across the nation rather than in your hometown could serve as the answer. However, you can’t come up with this type of solution until you understand the problem, thus being the importance of studying history.
Choosing to major in history will also help you improve writing and reading skills. A large portion of your studies will be focused on reading and reviewing material from various sources. You’ll likely have to write essays on the patterns and trends you pinpoint in the reading materials you are assigned. Some history majors choose to use their degree to become professional writers. Whether it be authoring a book or becoming an online copywriter, both professions have the potential to make good money. You could even write a book on the worst tyrants of the 20th century.
One of the most notable skills that you will acquire as you earn a history degree is the ability to interpret and analyze data. From historical letters to historical data, you’ll be tasked with analyzing it and then coming up with your own interpretations. You’ll quickly see how it’s possible to produce multiple interpretations based off the same sets of data. Having top-notch analysis and interpretation skills is key to any career path you choose to follow. You’ll be able to analyze evidence and then determine its value, which can be used in any profession.
Earning a History Degree Options
Another notable aspect of majoring in history is the ability to earn a degree in multiple ways. For starters, if you choose, you can take the traditional route and earn your degree on campus. For many students, however, completing their studies online suits their lifestyle much better. It allows them to work a full-time job while still earning a degree.
You’re going to study numerous aspects of history when you earn your degree. If you choose a particular area of specialization instead of general history, your studies will be laser-focused on that exact topic. Examples of courses you can take include:
- Colonialism, Nationalism, and Independence in Latin America Course
- 20th Century Russian History Course
- History of gaming
- Ancient Rome Course
- American History since 1877 Course
- History of Modern China Course
- History of warfare
You can also choose to specialize in a certain region of history. For example, you may want to study the history of Europe or the Middle East.
Some schools will allow you to take certain courses online while taking others on campus. A hybrid program is immensely beneficial for students who have only a minimal amount of time to attend campus classes. This type of program also proves valuable because it gives students a chance to interact with other students and their professors.
You will need to assess your lifestyle to determine which type of history program is best for you. If you enjoy traveling, you should definitely consider studying abroad. You’ll get to experience other cultures first-hand, which can be extreme value once it comes time to put your history degree to use in the real world. Studying abroad can also help you with your assignments because you’ll have a level of knowledge that other students won’t.
If you want to study abroad, this is generally recommended while earning an undergraduate degree. When pursuing an advanced degree, like a master’s or a doctoral credential, your coursework is going to be very heavy and your assignment will be incredibly intense.
Earning a history degree isn’t for everyone. You’ll need a passion for research to succeed in your educational and professional endeavors. While taking undergraduate courses, this is an excellent time to pinpoint which area of specialization you would like to study. Choosing a specialization is imperative to your professional goals because it highlights your knowledge level in a particular area of study, which is an aspect highly preferred by employers.
There are numerous history degree programs to choose from, so make sure to take your time in picking one that best suits your interests. One thing that remains true about history is “history tends to repeat itself.” As we pinpoint patterns and trends in history, though, it becomes possible to create a better future.
Earn your history degree today by checking out the top schools for history majors.