History Degree

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Why Earn a Degree in History?

A degree in history will prepare individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to examine past events, artifacts, documents and locations to piece together and analyze history. An education in history requires excellent analytical skills and memory, and tasks individuals with utilizing available information to derive conclusions about individuals, societies and cultures. Degrees in history are available from the associate's level onward, with masters and PhDs becoming more specialized, often focusing on a particular time or culture in history. Additionally, a bachelor's degree in history can  be used to enter masters programs in other fields, such as law.

A curriculum in history may include:

  • Critical Thinking
  • World Civilization
  • American History
  • European History
  • Foreign Language (Student's Choice)

What Can I Do with a History Degree?

The study of history provides students with a unique set of analytical skills and an invaluable sense of perspective.  Students considering earning a degree in history or graduating from college with a history degree may wonder ‘what jobs can I get with a history degree?’.   A cross-section of industries you can find yourself working in include: banking, colleges, publishing, retail organizations, consultant firms, museums, broadcast organization, and law firms.  Below we have outlined a number of opportunities that exist for history majors, some expected and some unexpected for your consideration.

Teaching – College graduates seeking to teach at the middle school or high school level will generally earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree plus state-required certification and licensure.  On the other hand, teaching at a college or university will typically require a PhD.  Higher education history professors will often balance teaching with research projects within a defined area of expertise.

Research and Development – History majors may find themselves working for a private corporation, non-profit organization, state government, or local government agency performing research.  Research organizations of all types provide insight and analytics into a number of areas from pharmaceuticals to genealogy.

Museums – One of the more commonly associated jobs for those earning a degree in history is to work with or for a museum.  Graduates can work as an educator, manager, gallery exhibition officer, or a similar capacity as a customer-facing representative or administrative specialist.

Historical Sites – Individuals passionate about history are a natural fit to work for a national or state historical site.  Positions may include performing duties as a historical building inspector or conservation officer at a variety of historically designated sites across the country.

Librarian – Historians may find themselves working in libraries of all types.  The important work or cataloging, indexing, and preserving historical works is an important job function.

Journalist – A history major may elect to enter the field of journalism as a writer, photojournalist, editorial manager, copywriter, social media manager, or digital editor.  For those passionate about communicating and publishing aesthetically pleasing, informative pieces of news could excel as a journalist.

Politics – Many history majors have found themselves working in the political arena as a political manager, political assistant, lobbyist, political analyst, or political historian.  The insights and perspective of a political specialist with historical bent can be viable across political parties for public or private enterprises.

Business – History majors may also find themselves in business, helping organizations understand local business history or evolution of commerce through a macroeconomic or capitalistic lens.  Demand for history students with a concentration in business (economics, finance, marketing, public relations, etc.) can be a boon to large and small businesses of all types.

Law – Individuals with a history degree may also find themselves working for a law firm providing consulting services or research to large and small legal firms.  A history majors analytical skills, research acuity, and critical reasoning skills can be an important resource for law firms in a variety of industries.

Career Outlook for History Majors

Individuals with a degree in history can find jobs in a variety of fields, including business, consulting, foreign service, journalists and more. Individuals who wish to pursue a career in history specifically may choose to become a researcher, teacher, editor or advocate. Post-graduate degree holders will have more jobs available to them within the field of history.  Jobs in history are limited, and often with education being the primary source of job opportunities. Most positions are occupied by post graduate degree holders, as are majority of research positions and programs. Bachelor degree holders may be able to find work teaching history in a high school or elementary school setting after obtaining the appropriate certification.

The job of historian typically requires a master's degree. Historians are responsible for gathering data, analyzing said data, educating and presenting information to the public, participate in preservation projects and write articles and papers among other tasks. Historians are often employed by a variety of agencies, including government, private business and schools in order to maintain records and track information. Historians are also known to provide political advice by putting policy issues into a historical perspective.

Historians make on average approximately $55,110 per year which translates to $26.49 per hour. The growth of jobs for historians is expected to be average over the next decade. The largest employers of historians in the United States are local government agencies, federal executive branch, state government agencies, scientific research centers, and museums.  Individuals interested in earning a degree in history may also be inclined to consider a degree in anthropology, art history, archaeology, or liberal arts.  

Top Paying States for Historians

  1. Maryland       $78,900
  2. Colorado        $78,600
  3. California      $75,460
  4. Virginia          $72,930
  5. New Jersey   $72,760

List of Historian Associations

Associations and organizations may be worthy of further research for those serious about the field of study.  Organizations and trade groups help its members with targeted tools, resources, and research regionally and nationally.  An association will often provide networking opportunities to help connect like-minded individuals within this sector.  Such connections help extend your career opportunities and establish working relationships with other professionals within this domain.  A list of the top five associations include:

  • American Historical Association (AHA)
  • Organization of American Historians (OAH)
  • Western History Association (WHA)
  • Association of Ancient Historians (AAH)
  • National Council for History Education (NCHE)

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Related Areas of Study

Career Summary: History Major




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