Career Information For History Majors
Much has been made, and rightly so, of the challenges of the twenty-first century. As we move into a post-industrial world, educators and the public that they serve place increasing emphasis on acquiring the skills and mastering the technology that will allow all citizens to compete and succeed in the global marketplace. In this age of rapid social, economic, and political change, the study of history may appear to be increasingly irrelevant. To cope with change, however, we need an informed citizenry that can bring judgment and wisdom to bear on the challenging questions and issues that are part of and will shape this unknown future. Although the study of history is intrinsically valuable, it also teaches us to appreciate nuance, multiple perspectives, complex motives, paradox, the fragile nature of republics and democracies, and, above all, the responsibilities and burdens of citizenship.
Explore the many career paths for history majors with these resources from the American Historical Association.Careers in History
Careers For History Majors
Through clear graphs and informal prose, readers will find hard data, practical advice, and answers to common questions about the study of history and the value it affords to individuals, their workplaces, and their communities. A resource for intellectual exploration and personal inspiration, it includes a statement shaped by cooperating faculty at over 100 colleges and universities describing the abilities and habits of mind that students develop in history programs at diverse institutions. The booklets contributors include alumni working in a wide range of fields and occupations as well as professional historians. Together, they suggest ways that todays college students can prepare themselves to bring historical thinking to bear in solving tomorrows problems.
Current and prospective students, and their families, will discover an array of useful materials inside, as will career and academic advisers, faculty, program administrators, and staff. General readers can explore statistics, personal stories, and reflections on the many ways that a disciplined knowledge of the pastas well as the skills it takes to understand and communicate that pastempowers individuals to contribute and thrive in their academic, work, and civic lives.
For more resources from the American Historical Association, please visit historians.org/whystudyhistory.
Most Common First Jobs For History Majors
History majors have a range of career opportunities available to them once they earn their bachelors degree. History majors hone a versatile expertise, and because of that they can work in a variety of different fields like legal, education, sales and management.
These are some common jobs that history majors assume, once they have earned their bachelors degrees:
Glassdoor salary range: $37,000-$80,000
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How Is A History Program Different From Other College Majors
A history program is not all that different from other majors in the humanities. There will be a lot of reading and a lot of writing. Instead of reading literature or philosophy, you’ll read works of history.
In some ways history is an excellent foundation for the other humanities disciplines. It provides the historical hooks upon which to hang works of philosophy or literature, each of which was written in a specific time period. Understanding the times will help you understand many of the historical causes which produced the work of literature, philosophy, or art.
How To Start Your Career In History
History majors can pursue a variety of career paths after building their research, writing, and analytical skills. Jobs you can get with a history degree include positions in schools, museums, archives, and libraries.
Many history majors go on to work as social studies teachers at the middle school or high school level, using their knowledge of history to teach young learners. At the highest level, historians with a doctorate can become university professors.
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Is A History Degree Useless
A history degree is far from useless. It only gets that reputation because its a humanities degree as opposed to a technical or vocational degree. Some people argue that you wont be able to make any money without specialized skills for the current job market.
Despite this, history students are making more money than certain other college graduates, and theyre enjoying a lower unemployment rate as well.
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According to research analysis from American Community Survey, history majors made less than business majors but more than life sciences majors, and their unemployment rate was only 4.6 percent. This was much better than the national unemployment rate of 7.7 percent at the time of the analysis.
Additionally, the industry is on the rise. Thousands of jobs expected to open up in museums, colleges and libraries within the next decade, and with the right credentials, history majors can qualify for them. Its may be a great time to get a history degree.
Continuing Education And Certifications
History is a valuable academic pursuit, and its also a strategic basis for continued study in a range of disciplines. Those who earn an undergrad degree in history can go on to do graduate work in history, finance, geography, anthropology, law, political science, data science, business, library science, non-profit management, diplomacy, international relations, etc.
There are also plenty of career opportunities for those who enter the workforce with a bachelors degree. In some cases, additional certifications are required. These are some roles that require such certifications:
- Archivists must take an exam to earn their certification, which requires renewal every five years, according to the Academy of Certified Archivists.
- Paralegals in some states and for some employers are required to earn licenses to work professionally.
- Junior high or high school history teachers may need to do additional work and earn a certification to qualify for the role. The website Tobecomeateacher.org explains: Completing a teacher education program, as well as student-teaching experience, are requirements before an individual qualifies to apply for a license or certification to teach in their state of residence.
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How To Advance Your Career In History
Pursuing additional education through volunteer work or certification programs can help you to specialize in a specific historical area, which may qualify you for career advancement opportunities and increase your earning potential. Additionally, some careers may require a specific license or advanced degree for entry or advancement.
The following sections explore continuing education options in history. Before investing in further education, research your target career to determine whether an advanced certificate or degree is necessary to achieve your professional goals.
History Careers List: A Guide To Careers In History
What is it that former president George W. Bush, comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, and journalist Louis Theroux have in common? Well, if it werent for the context of the page, youd 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. Todays 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 shouldnt 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.
How Do I Get Work Experience
Coursework is a key part of your education. To land a job, youll need additional experience. Summer internships and volunteer experiences provide an excellent way to explore possible careers. See the links below for information regarding opportunities offered by these organizations:
Masters & Doctorate Degrees
Many of the top history major jobs we listed require masters degrees or higher. To become a lawyer, for example, youll need to go through law school. That requires about three years of additional study after completing your undergrad degree. Then youll need to pass the bar exam. Each state or jurisdiction requires aspiring attorneys to take and pass this exam to prove their competence and readiness to practice law.
History professors need at least a masters degree, and many employers expect candidates to have a doctorate in a specific history topic. For other careers, you will want to supplement your broad-based undergraduate degree with a graduate education that focuses on your intended job. For example, librarians are expected to have a masters degree in library science archaeologists need a graduate degree in archaeology and political scientists most commonly have degrees in public administration, public policy, or public affairs.
A bachelors degree in history is the perfect springboard for so many careers. With the right combination of concentration, minor, experience, certification, and graduate education, the possibilities are endless. A little thought and planning in these details before or during your undergraduate studies can go a long way in helping you prepare for future success in a field that you love.
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Skills Gained With A History Degree
During a history program, students complete coursework focused on a variety of time periods, regions, and thematic areas. Studying history helps students develop critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills, which are important qualities for the profession.
Regardless of whether graduates take history-related jobs or work in different fields, these skills can help history majors succeed in many industries.
History students examine primary sources, secondary sources, and other documents to identify relevant information and build arguments based on their analysis. They often use analytical skills when writing research papers, integrating their conclusions into an argument supported by evidence.
History classes require verbal and written communication skills, as students debate in class and write persuasive essays and papers to support their positions. History also trains students to understand a document’s audience, purpose, and goals â a valuable skill that can translate into strong communication abilities.
As a liberal arts major, history students often build strong foreign language skills as part of their programs. Curricula include a foreign language requirement, and most graduate programs expect reading proficiency in a foreign language. These skills can lead to history jobs in government, such as working for the U.S. Department of State.
What Kinds Of Jobs Can You Get With A History Degree
A bachelor of arts in history can provide a valuable background for many careers, including government service, law, education, library science, business, journalism, and the arts. Pepperdine Universitys Seaver College offers a major and a minor in the study of history, teaching students how to think constructively about the present by making connections with the past. History students develop a deep understanding of the complex factors that have produced and shaped past and present societies. The degree program helps students to refine skills in research, analysis, and reasoning, and how to effectively communicate information. Aside from becoming a historian, high school history teacher, or history professor, history graduates have gone on to find work as politicians, journalists, attorneys, librarians, writers, editors, and museum curators, or directors. Careers in advertising and marketing are also common. Keep reading to discover a variety of lucrative jobs for history majors.
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Quick Job Search Tips For History Majors
Be proactive about your job search. You dont have to wait until you have your degree in hand to start working towards your first professional role. Learn to talk about your skillset, and to describe how your academic skills relate to the job market. Hone your elevator pitch, a clear, concise articulation of your professional experience and plan.
Prepare your candidacy package, which includes your resume, cover letter and Glassdoor profile. Clearly, you cant job search without these vital pieces. They are also valuable because they give you the chance to reflect on what youve learned and to think deeply about how thats shaped your skills and ambitions.
One challenge for history majors is that the skills that you absorb are somewhat abstract, and part of your role as an interviewee is to demonstrate and explain how your academic basis correlates to the professional world. History professor and AHA member Sarah Shurts writes: History graduates are well positioned for a broad variety of career paths, something employers will recognize as students learn to translate their skills into a language that employers understand.
Pursuing a history major is hard work, and it yields key professional skills. Get comfortable touting those.
General Skills For History Careers
- Administrative. Entry-level jobs in history field would require professionals to know how to perform basic clerical duties. These include filing and managing documents, organizing schedules, setting appointments, responding to e-mails, and attending to phone calls, to name a few.
- Reading Comprehension. History majors will need to know how to read at the analytical and syntopical levels. They need to learn how to handle heavy and dense materials. They must also be able to absorb these materials and make comparative analyses of texts.
- Communication. This skill is particularly important to those who are interested in research work. Historians will be able to use this when gathering information and conducting interviews. In many cases, they will need to coordinate with those in geography careers or even those with a geology degree, They will also need it when presenting their research findings to fellow scholars or to the public.
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Connect And Develop Ideas
History is studied by focusing on events that happen in a succession. Because of this, all of your notes should follow a chronological order, meaning you should split them according to the topic, time period, and any specific relatable details. As you take notes and separate them according to chronology, you will start to see connections between the facts. These connections are going to help you memorize pertinent information.
People Who Earn A Degree In History Develop High
Having the ability to see patterns and think critically is essential to Identifying connections between historical events, understanding their root causes, and maybe most crucially how they continue to sculpt and inform the economic and geopolitical events of today, such as wars, recessions, elections, and international trade. Therefore, the undergraduate history program at NU places a strong emphasis on critical thinking skills, which are vital not only for completing the coursework but moreover, for becoming a competitive job candidate in a constantly changing marketplace.
Students who earn a bachelors degree in history are more likely to understand how they are part of a larger picture and when students recognize the importance of the past in todays events, they begin to see how they are, in fact, a part of history. Dr. Campbell says, We are in a sense, ourselves, historical figures participating in historical events. All these events in the past affect us.
The bottom line? The more a historian analyzes the past, the more likely they are to see its relevance today and those sorts of critical thinking skills can help spell the difference between failure and success in fields as diverse as law, archaeology, and politics.
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A Degree In History Trains Students To Research And Write
Dr. Campbell says that understanding the past requires curiosity and persistence in studying society. He quotes Herbert Butterfield, who said that the historian is not a judge, a detective. When studying for a bachelors in history, students follow leads to discover new information much as detectives do.
After all, the study of history would be impossible without the ability to locate and interpret a wide range of sources, such as manuscripts, treaties, poems, visual art, clothing, artifacts, weapons, contracts, scholarly works, court documents, newspaper articles, letters, currency, and countless other records of the past. That demands strong research skills, which students will benefit from and be able to apply in any career path or work environment.
Studying history also trains students to sharpen their writing skills, which are put to the test with the completion of a capstone project, a subject we cover in detail below. History undergraduates must be able to communicate in a clear and compelling way, illuminating key details of an event or time period in order to bring a deeper understanding to a familiar subject. Strong writing and communication skills are useful in a wide range of careers, where you may need to write press releases, request or apply for funding, compose emails or newsletters, create lesson plans or mission statements, coordinate numerous employees, or write educational content to provide just a few examples.
What Can I Do With A History Major
In todays rapidly changing world and workforce, History graduates are in an excellent competitive position.
You are trained to think critically, evaluate often conflicting and ambiguous sources of information, write clearly, and summarize and analyze effectively. While learning about the complex world around you and how we got where we are now, you will learn skills transferable to a wide variety of career opportunities.
Students graduating with a B.A. in History find themselves in positions in business, banking, law, archive management, museum work, foreign service, as well as teaching, to name just a few of the hundreds of jobs available for History graduates. Business leaders and personnel managers often say that the most important kind of person they are looking for is one who can adapt, continue to learn, make comparisons and recognize previous patterns which can be modified from the past for the present, communicate effectively and clearly, and who can deal with a multicultural environment. They are looking for someone who is aware of the many levels of ideas, relationships, and identities that make up the human condition. You will be well prepared to meet these requirements.
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