So, uh, what can you do with a history degree? If you’re majoring in history, you probably get asked this question all the freakin’ time. Sure, it can be a little annoying, but it’s also not an unfair question. People naturally want to know how you’re going to kickstart a career with your extensive knowledge of the Byzantine Empire and your weird ability to ruin any medieval movie by pointing out every single historical flaw and inaccuracy. (We appreciate you and your talents, BTW — just not on movie night.)
In any case, you can’t answer a question that you don’t actually know the answer to. So, why don’t we fix that? Let’s take a look at some of the many possible career paths that are available to history majors. And if you’re still having trouble picking a career, go ahead and check out our blog: How to Choose a Career.
So, What Can You Do with a History Degree?
Unlike engineering, accounting, nursing, and other undergraduate degrees, a history degree doesn’t point to a single career track. Instead, history majors tend to enjoy success in a wide range of careers — from museum work to education — due to their many strengths (reading, writing, and the ability to think critically).
One of the most common post-graduation career paths for history majors is the law school path. Since much of our legal system is based on precedent, it’s not difficult to see how a history degree could be extremely beneficial if you decide to become a lawyer. (It’s also one of the highest-paying careers you can get with your degree, FYI.)
Another popular career track for history majors is teaching. Like it or not, this is probably the career path that everyone assumes you’re on once you tell them your major. Teaching provides a decent wage, and for the right person, it can be a fantastic career.
Finally, there is the obvious job title of historian, which involves studying historical documents and carrying out research. If you’re willing to obtain a master’s or a doctoral degree, this could be a deeply rewarding career option for you.
Popular History Degree Jobs
Alright, so we’ve knocked out the obvious: lawyer, teacher, and historian. What else can you do with a history degree?
As a matter of fact, history majors have a number of transferable skills that make them attractive job candidates: the ability to think critically and analytically; to view issues from multiple perspectives; to research; to consider the societal implications of specific actions; and to communicate complex issues clearly. Here are a few jobs that promise to put those skills to good use:
- Museum Curator/Archivist – Museum curators and archivists evaluate and preserve an institution’s collections, such as historic texts and artifacts. They typically work in museums, universities and colleges, governments, historical sites, and institutions. If you have a passion for history and solid research skills, you could also become an archives technician — a similar career that doesn’t require a master’s degree.
- Librarian – Since history majors often spend a lot of time in the library, this one is a no-brainer. Being a librarian is a great fit for someone who enjoys being around books and has excellent research skills (like you). Communication and customer service are also useful since you’ll likely be dealing with the general public.
- Project Manager – Project managers are highly-organized, goal-oriented, and have excellent communication skills — all traits that history majors often possess. If you’re exceptionally good with people and can prove it in your resume, look for a job as a project manager at an art museum.
- Reporter/Correspondent – You may be surprised to learn that a bachelor’s degree in history can serve you well in many reporting roles. Reporters need to digest and process a lot of material in a short amount of time, which is something that history majors know how to do well. If you’re still in school, consider getting a minor in journalism or an internship at a television station to pursue this career.
- Writer/Editor – People with history degrees tend to have impressive writing skills. Why not put those skills to good use by snagging a job as a writer or editor? In addition to your editing day job, you could start a history blog on the side.
- Administrative Coordinator – If you have leadership, analytical, and communication skills, a career as an administrative coordinator could be a good fit for you. Administrative coordinators plan, direct, and coordinate an organization’s activities to help it run more smoothly — and they make the big bucks doing it. Administrative coordinators made $96,940 per year on average in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Human Resources Specialist – Human resources specialists are found in every industry and rely on their impressive people skills to help them recruit, interview, and place workers. If you can score an HR internship or minor in HR management, you’ll be well poised to succeed in this field.
Translating a History Degree into a Rewarding Career
Like most liberal arts degrees, history degrees tend to be the butt of many jokes. But we’re being totally serious when we say this: Your degree is far from useless. Whether you’re searching for internships or a full-time job, knowing how to write a resume that highlights your transferable skills is likely going to be the key to launching your career.