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History Degree Careers

Updated on June 28, 2011


A post-secondary degree in history is often considered limited in career options. If you were to ask most people what kind of careers you can get with a history degree, a very small number of the same kind of jobs would come up – university professor, high-school teacher, librarian, historian, or archivist. While these jobs are undoubtedly the ones most often associated with a history degree, they are just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, today’s history majors have a very large array of possible positions in many different fields, ranging from business to politics.

Why does History have so many career options?


The reason why a history degree gives such a large number of career paths is because of the valuable skills it provides. Students learn and refine 6 major skills, usable in almost any facet of human life:

  • Research skills
  • Writing skills
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to put forth arguments and ideas in a clear and logical manner
  • Thinking and reading critically
  • Organizational skills

These skills make history majors very attractive to potential employees. Whether you want to be a politician, who needs to have excellent problem-solving and oral skills, or an archivist, who needs to be able to research, collect, and interpret documents, history provides everything required.

Major Career Options


Below you can find the major career fields for a history major, along with some typical jobs in every field. Keep in mind there is some overlap between these areas, and some suggest an appropriate minor degree to supplement your history major.


Education/Research Jobs

These are your obvious history-centric positions, which often require, (or highly suggest) a master’s degree in a history-related subject. History professor, high school history teacher, archivist, researcher, historian, are all positions which fall under this category.

Media/Communications/Publishing

These jobs have everything to do with collecting, analyzing, using and presenting information. As such, they employ practically every one of the major skills outlined above. Possible positions here include journalist, news anchor, reporter, editor, public relations jobs, author, writer, broadcaster and many more. As a final note, an English or writing-related minor to combine with your history major is very helpful here, as it gives you even more specific skills for the field.

Business

Business sounds like an odd place for a history major, but you’d be surprised how many different jobs are available here. Some of the more popular positions are manager, research analyst, sales representative, consultant, lobbyist, corporate historian, marketing and advertiser jobs. Adding in a business-related minor is also very helpful here.

Government/Politics Jobs

Working for the government requires all of the 6 main skills of a history major. Possible positions here include campaign worker, congressional aide, intelligence agent, lobbyist, politician and clerical jobs. As an interesting fact, a lot of high-level politicians are history majors. Some notable examples include Gordon Brown, the recent Prime Minister of Britain, and a large number of past US presidents, like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush. A politics-related minor degree is a good addition for this field.

Law

Law-related jobs require high-level analysis and research skills. Some of the possible positions here include paralegal, lawyer, articling student, secretary, litigation officer, legal assistant, solicitor, and accountant. A complementary political science/economy degree can be useful here to get ahead of other applicants.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about which degree to take in college/university, or want to switch your program to something else, don't underestimate history as a possible candidate. Just make sure you have a general idea of what you want to do with your degree after your 4 (or 6, for a master's) years of post-secondary education. The options are almost limitless.

Interested in the Pros and Cons of Government Jobs? Check out this hub.

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    • profile image

      shantelle 4 years ago

      i am a history major first year, i love history and spanish

    • gkerosi profile image

      Geoffrey Kerosi 4 years ago from Nairobi

      Thank you for such important information keep it up!

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 4 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      This gives me hope that if my oldest son becomes a Poli Sci major he can still have marketable skills. The humanities are the most interesting areas of study. It is hard to see their utility when it comes to getting real jobs. You did a nice job showing us a history degree can get you into the real work world.

    • Willsummerdreamer profile image

      Will English. 4 years ago from Marietta, Georgia.

      I was a history major too, but I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it. Great article.

    • Amandabrown865 profile image

      Amanda 4 years ago from St. Louis

      I was a history major my first two semesters, then switched to business. But I can attest that the research and communication skills that I developed in that time gave me an edge in my career

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      I thought teaching and being an archivist are the only available career opportunities for those majoring in history, I'm quite surprised to find a lot of options. Voted up and useful, interesting.

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea the options available to a history major. My brother in law is a history major and he's done quite well in business.

    • newusedcarssacram profile image

      newusedcarssacram 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

      You are right. I also used to think that pursuing a degree in history limits career options. Thanks for sharing these ideas. It is going to be very helpful for people how would like to get post-secondary degree in history.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 4 years ago

      History degrees are helpful in all the areas you listed. I have a minor in History and a major in Journalism. The history courses and political science courses made me a better reporter and help to develop my research skills. However, unless you have an advance degree in history, or a teaching certificate to go with it, the history degree by itself is not going to open many employment doors for you.

    • profile image

      Nero Caligula 5 years ago

      Never, ever, ever get a degree in history. If you need to take time off to figure out who you are, do it, and don't worry about your friends who will graduate ahead of you, especially if they have liberal arts degrees.

      The worlds different now than it was when I first started. Money isn't everything, true, but neither is being the "nice" boyfriend. "Nice", or with a history major a "great book report writer", itsn't going to land you anywhere but a customer service job. And you can get those with nothing but a GED.

      History degrees, or any type liberal arts degrees, without grad school is just plain dumb. Imagine how stupid I feel now..."Oh, I love history, I'll major in it." What??? No one LOVES law school, but that isn't why people go. Don't give up common sense so that the rest of your college career is spent studying something you love...you'll forget everything and be stuck with a worthlless piece of paper.

    • profile image

      Stephanie Blewitt 5 years ago

      My major is history and I was going to go into teaching but am worried that I wont be able to get a job with that. What other options are there if I am not interested in politics or living in a large city?

    • Jason Oleinik profile image
      Author

      Gleb Oleinik 6 years ago from Richmond, BC, Canada

      Thank for the comment Glenn. I myself am continuing my post-secondary education as a History Major right now (which is why I wrote the Hub) and that is very encouraging information.

    • glenn wallace profile image

      glenn wallace 6 years ago

      I can attest to the usefulness of a history BA for someone going into journalism. My degree helped teach me how to thoroughly research and source information, and also how to turn around and present that information in a clear and accurate way.