Career Possibilities

Many students may find themselves unsure how to market their skills as a history major after graduation. Preparation for teaching is probably the career that most associate with earning a history degree; however, students have also cultivated skills that will prepare them for many other career paths. Students will find the history major helpful if they plan to: 1) teach at the primary or secondary school level; 2) pursue graduate degrees in history or related fields; 3) work for United States governmental agencies or in local government service, or for private organizations where the ability to do research is essential; 4) work in business contexts where the ability to think critically and communicate clearly and persuasively are important; 5) study law; or 6) work in contexts where research abilities and a broad understanding of society are important such as managing local history projects, fundraising, museums, archives, and libraries.

So what skills are you cultivating that will make you employable in the future? Training as a historian will give you enhanced analytical skills and the ability to synthesize information from a myriad of sources. The rigorous reading and writing demands will enable you to break down the most important ideas from these sources and clearly convey those ideas to others. "Employers often deliberately seek students with the kinds of capacities historical study promotes," notes historian Peter Stearns. He continues:

The reasons are not hard to identify: students of history acquire, by studying different phases of the past and different societies in the past, a broad perspective that gives them the range and flexibility required in many work situations. They develop research skills, the ability to find and evaluate sources of information, and the means to identify and evaluate diverse interpretations. Work in history also improves basic writing and speaking skills and is directly relevant to many of the analytical requirements in the public and private sectors, where the capacity to identify, assess, and explain trends is essential (www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/why-study-history).

 In addition, students may prepare for a career in teaching Social Science at the secondary level (junior high or high school) by completing an approved "Subject Matter Preparation Program." Completion of such a program is the first step in meeting the state requirements for a teaching credential. Interested students should consult the departmentally-designated advisor for current information. 

As you prepare for your careers after graduation, it is important to understand the importance of cultivating your skills as a history major to the fullest extent. The ability to strongly communicate how your skills will benefit your future employers will be the key to your success. This is why it is good to begin to consider a range of career possibilities and research what professionals in these fields are expected to accomplish. Below are career paths available to historians, as suggested on the American Historical Association website. Read the original article: www.historians.org/jobs-and-professional-development/career-resources/careers-for-history-majors

CapitolHistorians as Educators

Elementary Schools
Secondary Schools
Postsecondary Education
Historic Sites and Museums

Historians as Researchers

Museums and Historical Organizations
Cultural Resources Management and Historic Preservation
Think Tanks

Historians As Communicators

Writers and Editors
Journalists
Documentary Editors
Producers of Multimedia Material
Historians As Information Managers
Archivists
Records Managers
Librarians
Information Managers

Historians As Advocates

Lawyers and Paralegals
Litigation Support
Legislative Staff Work
Foundations

Historians in Businesses and Associations

Historians in Corporations
Contract Historians
Historians and Nonprofit Associations

Suggested Reading

  • Careers for History Buffs and Others Who Learn from the Past, Blythe Camenson, (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
  • Museum Careers: A Practical Guide for Novices and Students, N. Elizabeth Schlatter, (Left Coast Press, 2008)
  • Creative Careers in Museums, Jan E. Burdick, (Allworth Press, 2008)
  • Great Jobs for History Majors, Stephen Lambert and Julie DeGalan, (McGraw-Hill, 2007)
  • What to Do with Your History or Political Science Degree, (Princeton Review, 2007)
  • Opportunities in Museum Careers,  Blythe Camenson, (McGraw-Hill, 2006)
  • Top Careers For History Graduates, (Ferguson Publishing Company, 2004)