A history major focuses on both domestic and world history. It can be an incredibly interesting educational pursuit, since you learn so much about how the world works — and why it works the way it does today. You can also better predict future events, since, as the saying goes, history tends to repeat itself. Because history involves a lot of storytelling, taking a deeper dive in recounting past events can be very enjoyable for some students.
A history degree also gives you the skills that you need for a variety of different industries. You can take a lot of what you learn in school and put it into practice in the professional world with a history degree. People with history degrees are very versatile, since they know a lot about many different fields from studying how the country and world came to be.
Here are some of the fields and jobs that you may want to consider if you are pursuing a degree in history.
What is a history major?
A history major is a discipline in college that allows you to study both United States history and global history. A history degree forces you to critically examine the past — both domestically and internationally. And it empowers you as an informed citizen who has a greater understanding of society's many nuances.
What can you do with a history degree?
There are a whole host of jobs that would benefit from an education in history. Here are a few fields to get you started:
Politics is an obvious field to get into with a history degree. Politics make up such a big part of both country and world history curriculums. Some might even argue that everything in history is political. Understanding past political happenings can help you become a better politician or be of better service in the field of politics in any role — you have the context you need to succeed.
Just like you have a history teacher or professor helping you learn about today's past, there are students who need a mentor like you have had. So becoming a history teacher or professor is a popular choice. History education is crucial to the health of our democracy and world peace. History teachers and professors will always be in demand, especially since history grows deeper with every day that passes. In fact, according to the American Historical Association, most history majors work in this field.
Law is a popular field for people with history degrees, since so many history majors have such a broad sense of laws past and present. Understand past legislation is important in writing new legislation, for example. According to the American Historical Association, tons history majors (at least 11 percent) work in legal services.
Of course, the field of research is an obvious choice of many history buffs. Because history majors spend a lot of their time researching the past, research is a top skill they already have.
How much money can you make with a history degree?
Graduating with a history degree can set you up for a both fulfilling and lucrative career ahead. In fact, college graduates who have a degree in history earn a median income of $55,000, according to the American Historical Association. Of course, this salary depends largely on what kind of job you get out of college. People who pursue law may earn more than people who pursue education, for example.
The 15 most interesting jobs for history majors
Here are some of the most interesting careers you can pursue with a history major:
1. School teacher
History school teachers work in elementary, middle and high schools. They teach young kids and teenagers various history curricula, depending on the age of the students they teach and the school district in which they teach. They'll use history books, movies and other materials to teach with lesson plans for their students. Typically, history teachers teach both United States history and world history. This can be a very rewarding career path for history buffs.
School teachers also typically get the summers off! So they may take those few months to pursue passion projects, take on side hustles, travel, learn more by reading a lot more, get certified in different skills and more.
History professors teach history to college students and students in higher education systems. In general, history professors specialize in certain aspects of history. For example, some professors strictly teach United States history, while others focus on world history. Likewise, some professors specialize in World War history, while other professors may focus on recent history.
Becoming a professor can be a very rewarding career because you know that most of the students taking your class are likely very interested in whatever it is that you are teaching. This is because college-aged students and graduate students have more choice in the courses they take than school-age kids and teenagers. So, if they are taking a history class, it may very well be because they, too, want to ultimately pursue a career in history.
Politicians are people who are very active in different politic parties and governing bodies. They may be lead local offices, inform local legislation, work in judicial offices or work with regional or national governments. Sometimes, law enforcement officers like sheriffs can be considered politicians, too.
Politicians get a lot of heat these days, especially because the United States is so divided. But a career in politics can be very exciting and rewarding, as well. You get to be part of the change that you want to see and push for the change you want from the frontlines.
Librarians are in charge of running libraries. More specifically, they are in charge of garnering, organizing and issuing library resources like books (including history books), films (including historical films) and audio files. They help students and people with library cards find resources, as well. They may also run local events at the library. For example, local schools may come with their students for reading circles. Organizations may even bring their teams for company events.
Archivists are people who are responsible for cataloguing, preserving and ultimately managing valuable historical collections. They typically work with both public and private sector organizations, but they may work with one or multiple at a time. If anything happens to a collection, it falls on them. So, the role of an archivist can be stressful at times, but it can also be exciting if you love history and nerd out on the collections you are overseeing.
6. Museum Director
A museum director is someone who is in charge of all aspects of running a museum. The museum may be a bigger more popular one that encompasses many different exhibits and sections, or it may be a smaller local museum dedicated to a small historical town or a singular historical event. The museum director is responsible for budgeting, fundraising, programming, researching collections, maintaining collections, exhibition development and so much more.
7. Gallery Exhibitions Officer
A gallery exhibition officer is responsible for both planning and organizing either permanent or traveling gallery exhibitions. They may also handle publicity events and promotional activities like talks and workshops that they host at the gallery. They may work one-on-one with the artists, as well, to prepare exhibitions. Some gallery exhibition officers are also in charge of press for their galleries — so they may end up scheduling interviews, talking to journalists and sharing images with media professionals.
8. Heritage Manager
A heritage manager is someone who manage and provide access to heritage sites and properties. They might include historic buildings, museums, landscapes and ancient monuments. They are responsible for looking after these historic places, maintaining their good condition and keeping them safe and respected.
Researchers work in a whole host of industries and are responsible for collecting, organizing and analyzing data and information for the industry in which they work. This information can help their clients to solve problems, predict trends, innovate, streamline and more. A researcher may have a particular focus, such as in medicine, science, sociology and other disciplines.
11. Park Ranger
A park ranger is in charge of taking care of nature. They work outdoors to patrol national parks, campgrounds, trails and other surrounding areas. Their role is to make sure that the park remains respected and clean, and that visitors remain safe. They may also conduct tours, answer visitor questions, enforce park rules (including fire and safety codes), and participate in rescue missions, depending on where they work.
History buffs make great writers because they are natural storytellers. Many historians have written novels, both factual biographies and recounts of history, and fiction novels informed and inspired by historical events.
Because history majors have a lot of reading experience, they tend to have a natural eye for grammar and appreciation for the English language. So, even if they don't become novelists, they can utilize their writing skills in other ways, such as via copywriting roles. Copywriters help businesses communicate better on their websites, on their apps, across their social media platforms and in all of their marketing materials by creating a consistent narrative that resonates with the target demographic. They may even work one-on-one with illustrators, UX designers, UI designers and engineers to achieve this.
Journalists cover news and topics for newspapers, print magazines and online outlets. They generally work one-on-one with an editor to pitch story ideas, write them, submit them, edit them, and maybe even produce and publish them. It can be exciting to see your byline published in print or on the internet next to a story that makes you proud! And it can be rewarding since you are part of educating the masses.
Journalists typically have degrees in journalism, but they may also have degrees in specific topics that they cover, such as biology or business. That said, many journalists also have history degrees. Investigative journalists, in particular, would benefit from history degrees because they are often tasked with diving deeper into different social issues and politics. Having a foundational understanding of the story thanks to knowledge of historical events can help them report on it.
14. Business Consultant
Business consultants help businesses do better work. They may work with leaders or teams to help them streamline processes, analyze trends, predict profits, optimize and boost efficiency, and even become more diverse and inclusive. Given their knowledge of historical events, history majors have an easier time predicting the future for companies and helping companies to navigate challenges and be proactive in avoiding history repeating itself.
Business consultants work with all different types of businesses. They generally work for themselves under their own companies and do contractual work with clients from scaling startups to corporate businesses alike. Depending on their experience, they may choose to work in specific industries, as well. Some may work in Fintech, for example, while others may work in the health and wellness space. While their skills are applicable across the board, zeroing in on an industry can help them to establish credibility in their field.
Activists may work with nonprofit organizations or start their own initiatives to fight for social justice. They may be pushing for racial justice, gender equity, equality for people living with disabilities or another cause. Essentially, they fight for social change, sometimes on a local scale and other times on a global scale. Their work is never quite done, and as rewarding as it is, it can also be discouraging at times.
Activists may run campaigns, throw events, work with companies to create organizational changes, bring communities together for clean-ups and more.Their work varies depending on the issues for which they are fighting. History majors make great activists, as they often deeply understand the history of the cause they care about.
About the Career Expert:
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.