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What Can You Do with a History Degree?

Career Pathways for History Majors

Did You Know?

  • Only a small percentage of history majors go on to be historians.
  • Most history majors go on to become lawyers, businesspersons, politicians, writers, researchers, librarians, archivists, and even entertainers.
  • Leaders in every profession can point to their training as history majors as the starting point for their success.

What Skills Will You Learn as An Historian?

  • Clear Writing: Successfully and precisely communicate one's ideas in text.
  • Critical Analysis: Analyze the context, nature, and consequences of a situation.
  • Effective Research: Identify what has been written about a subject, differentiate between strong and weak sources of information, and incorporate research into analysis.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Contemplate an issue in a multitude of ways, analyze through multiple tools, and make recommendations which draw from different traditions of thought.
  • Inquisitiveness: Ask probing questions, consider the most important element of an issue, and relate to the expertise and interests of others.

What Careers Paths Can History Majors Follow?

Historians as Educators

Many history majors go on to become educators, focusing on the communication of their ideas. Educators include teachers in elementary and secondary education, as well as higher education on many levels, including teaching at community and junior colleges, undergraduate colleges, and universities. But educators also are important members of other educational institutions that you may not think of as immediately as schools.

These include historic sites and museums, where history majors can become docents, education directors, curators, guides, and interpreters. In addition, there are other forms of teaching than standing up in front of a classroom. These include work as historical consultants, contract archivists, public historians, writers, and even filmmakers.

Historians as Researchers

Many history majors go on to careers as researchers, emphasizing their skills in evaluating and analyzing documentary evidence. Historians as researchers include public historians as well as policy advisers, who serve as planners, evaluators, and policy analysts, often for state, local, and federal governments.

Historians often find employment as researchers for museums and historical organizations, or pursue additional specialized training to become professionals in cultural resources management and historic preservation.

Historians as Writers and Editors

Because success as a history major depends upon learning to write effectively, many historians become writers and editors. They make their living as authors of historical books, or more commonly, they work as editors at a publishing house.

Many historians become print and broadcast journalists, and others become documentary editors who oversee the publication of documents such as those produced by government agencies.

Historians as Information Managers

Because history majors must learn to deal with documents, many pursue a one- or two-year graduate program in library studies (commonly, a Master of Library Science, or MLS, degree) or archival management and enter careers as information managers.

With this additional training, they enter the fields of archives management, information management, records management, and librarianship.

Historians as Advocates

Many history majors find that historical training makes a perfect preparation for law school, as historians and lawyers often do roughly the same thing. They argue persuasively using historical data to support their arguments.

Many history majors become lawyers; others undertake careers in litigation support as paralegals. Others enter public service and become policymakers, serve as legislative staff at all levels of government, and become officers of granting agencies and foundations.

Historians as Businesspeople

Most people overlook the value of a history major in preparing an intelligent person for a career in business. Yet, historians track historic trends, an important skill for those developing products to market or engaged in corporate or financial planning.

Many history majors enter banking, insurance, and stock analysis. Historians also learn how to write persuasively, and this training gives them an edge in advertising, communications media, and marketing. Finally, many industries depend on an intimate knowledge of government policies and historical trends; thus, history majors have found their skills useful in extractive industries and in public utilities.

Recent Media Articles about History and Other Humanities Majors

The Wall Street Journal: ?Why I Was Wrong about Liberal-Arts Majors?

The Washington Post: ?Tech Companies Hiring More Liberal Arts Majors?

Los Angeles Time: ?History Isn?t A Useless Major?

Forbes: ?`Useless? Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech?s Hottest Ticket?