What to Do With a Degree in History

Careers for History Majors

Studying the history of Ancient Egypt
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Do you enjoy learning about the past? If you do, perhaps getting a degree in history has crossed your mind, but you may have dismissed the idea because you are concerned about a lack of career options with this college major. Perhaps this article can set your mind (and your parents' minds) at ease. An undergraduate degree in history can prepare college graduates for a wide array of occupations. Here are just a few you should consider.

Historian

Let's begin with the most obvious choice, but far from the only one, for a history major. Historians study personal letters and diaries, newspapers, photographs, and other resources in order to research the past. They gather, analyze, and interpret information. They make presentations and write articles and books on their findings and theories.

Governments, businesses, historical associations, and non-profit organizations employ historians. They also teach in colleges and universities. Most jobs require a master's degree or Ph.D.

Archivist

Archivists work in museums, colleges, government, corporations, and other institutions. They acquire, preserve, and organize historically significant documents and make them available to those who need to access them. Most employers prefer job candidates who have earned a master's degree in library science, history, or archival science.

Attorney

Attorneys, also known as lawyers, represent clients, advising them on legal matters.

They research and analyze the facts surrounding cases which can include criminal cases, disputes, and contract negotiations. If you want to pursue this career, you will have to earn a law degree after you graduate from college.

Your bachelor's degree can be in almost any subject you choose, but a degree in history will provide you with many of the skills you need to be successful as an attorney.

You will, for example, develop analytical, research, writing, and speaking skills.

Librarian

Librarians make information accessible to the people who need it. They select, organize, and show patrons how to use these materials effectively. To become a librarian you will have to earn a Master's Degree in Library Science (M.L.S.).

Librarians working in academic, public, school, law, or business libraries will be able to utilize the general skills they acquired through their college major. They are proficient researchers, excellent communicators, have great critical thinking skills, and are adept at explaining things to others. Since academic librarians must be subject specialists, a bachelor's degree in history will provide the required background.

Writer or Author

Writers create content for books and other print publications, as well as for online media. Non-fiction writers often specialize in a subject area. Your knowledge of history will provide you with a lot of material about which to write, and your excellent research, verbal communication, and listening skills will help you succeed in this field. There is also a market for historical fiction, so if you are creative, you can use your background in history to write novels.

National Park Ranger

The U.S. National Park Service hires history majors to work in their parks, landmarks, and heritage sites around the country. Rangers teach visitors about a site's history and features. They work with both children and adults, spending their days guiding them on tours, planning and conducting workshops for them, and answering their questions in visitors' centers. Park rangers working in America's national parks are U.S. government employees, but similar opportunities are available in other countries' national parks.

Secondary School Teacher

A secondary school teacher instructs students in a particular subject, for example, English, math, art, or history.

If your desire is to share your love of history with others, consider becoming a high school or middle school history or social studies teacher. You will most likely have to earn a degree in education before you can teach. If you already have a degree in history, find out what you have to do in order to teach in the state in which you want to work. Use CareerOneStop's License Finder to locate this information.

Reporter

Reporters investigate news stories and then deliver them to the public in the form of a television or radio broadcast or a newspaper or online article. They do a tremendous amount of research and writing which makes this an excellent fit for someone who has majored in history. While employers typically prefer to hire job candidates with journalism degrees, some are willing to look beyond this and hire those who have majored in other subjects.

Management Analyst or Consultant

Management analysts help companies become more profitable, improve their efficiency, or successfully change their business structures. Some are self-employed—they are called management consultants—but most management analysts are full-time employees.

How can majoring in history prepare you for this business career? History majors are well schooled in the concept that learning from the past informs the future. Your research skills will help you learn about a company's history. Your critical thinking skills will allow you to make well-informed decisions about strategies going forward. While you may eventually want to earn a master's degree in business (MBA), your undergraduate business degree will give you many of the skills you need to succeed in this field. 

Tour Guide

Tour guides escort groups of travelers on sightseeing excursions. They plan educational activities for school-age children. They need to have knowledge about the area they are exploring, including its history. While a tour guide doesn't always need a bachelor's degree, having one in this subject can prove to be quite valuable. It will be helpful when it comes to gathering information and conveying it to tourists.