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12 Best History Major Jobs: Entry-Level & Career

Historical black and white photographs, coins, and documents may interest those looking for history major jobs.

Maybe you enjoy learning about past military achievements, maybe you love studying ancient civilizations, or maybe you want to figure out what led to today’s technological advances. No matter your area of interest, you are fascinated with the stories that unfold with the study of history. You would love to follow your interest and pursue history major jobs.

Despite your passion, though, you might second-guess choosing history as a college major. After all, some people have undoubtedly told you that history isn’t a practical degree. Is that true? What can you do after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history? Are there history major jobs out there?

What Will I Learn in a History Degree?

The short answer? A lot! The diverse skill set that a history degree provides allows for many career paths in many sectors.

I mean, sure, you might come away from your classes being able to recite the dates of historical events, know the names of past world leaders, and tell your friends all about the societal implications of the Industrial Revolution, but there’s so much more to a history degree. Studying the past helps us understand the present and plan for the future. The research and analysis skills you gain through your studies are arguably more important than the specific facts you memorize.

To generate information and conclusions, a history major learns to find and evaluate sources. Historians choose information from primary and secondary sources. They gauge reliability, accuracy, and point of view. One key point that researchers look for is a connection between sources. If two sources make the same claim, there is a reasonable expectation that the information is accurate and reliable.

A history major develops a wide range of useful skills. This includes effective writing and clear and engaging communication. It gives students critical analysis skills, vital for in decision-making, allowing the graduate to succeed in many careers with a history degree.

Skills Gained from a History Degree

A history degree may not lend itself to a direct career path, like say a nursing degree or teaching degree, but the skills you learn are highly valuable and can be applied to a wide array of career choices ranging from the arts to business to government.

History degrees provide you with skills including:

  • Sophisticated research techniques
  • Critical analysis of information
  • Consideration of information from various perspectives
  • Effective oral and written communication

You will have the ability to analyze and understand the reasons behind how and why events occurred in the past, and how those events continue to shape today’s world. Understanding the forces that have impacted groups, societies, cultures, and nations throughout history can help you navigate the complex challenges facing us today.

Career Paths with a History Degree

Paul B. Sturtevant wrote about the opportunities for history majors in his article, “History is not a useless major: Fighting myths with data,” in Perspectives on History, the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association. He notes that the top five most common professions of history graduates are:

  • Education, training, and library
  • Management
  • Legal occupations
  • Sales
  • Office and administrative support

Nearly half of history majors go on to graduate school, according to Sturtevant. The fields of law, management, and education all require advanced degrees. Students may see a bachelor’s degree in history as a good foundation and a springboard for careers that require graduate training.

With so many options available to you after college, you’ll want to take some time before you graduate to think about your next steps. Do you want to immediately enter the workforce? If so, determine what internships, extracurriculars, or electives can make your resume stand out to potential employers. You may also need professional certifications. Do you want to continue your studies with a graduate degree? You’ll need to decide what field you want to specialize in and make sure you meet admission requirements.

If you are passionate about history and work to combine your knowledge, skills, and experience, then a history degree is not only practical, it’s extremely marketable.

Best Entry-Level History Major Jobs

Most well-paying jobs require an advanced degree or on-the-job experience, but the good news is that there are also many jobs for history majors right after graduation. With a bachelor’s degree, you can take advantage of history major jobs in law, education, and communications such as these:

1. Journalist

Median salary: $49,300
Minimum education: Bachelor’s
Estimated growth: 6%

With an understanding of the past, you’ll have the insights to better understand current events. The skills in research and communication you gain in your bachelor’s degree in history are directly applicable to a career in journalism. You can even become a news commentator with expertise in a specific subject.

Employers will want to see evidence of your reporting abilities, so it’s a good idea to work on the college newspaper, radio station, or TV station. Internships are also a great way to show your interest and experience in the field.

2. Paralegal

Median salary: $52,920
Minimum education: Associate
Estimated growth: 12%

Working as a paralegal requires research, organization, and clear writing skills. A paralegal or legal assistant is responsible for gathering facts related to a case, searching for previous cases, and finding laws, regulations, and legal articles related to the issue at hand. A degree in history becomes extremely useful, and many history majors find jobs in the legal sphere.

You can become a paralegal by completing an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree in any area along with a certification in paralegal studies from a program approved by the American Bar Association. Some employers will even hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and provide on-the-job training.

3. High School History Teacher

Median salary: $62,870
Minimum education: Bachelor’s
Estimated growth: 8%

You can share your love of history by becoming a high school history teacher. High school teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many states require teachers to major in a content area, such as history. Public school teachers need to be licensed or certified, whereas private schools typically don’t require licensure.

All states offer a route to certification or licensure for individuals with a bachelor’s degree that did not include education courses. Some programs allow you to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher while you pursue certification.

4. Writer

Median salary: $67,120
Minimum education: Bachelor’s
Estimated growth: 9%

As a writer, you can take your career in many different directions. Author a historical fiction novel, research to ensure a movie or TV script is historically accurate, or provide content for specific print or digital audiences. You might even write a biography of a famous person or become a political speechwriter.

Your knowledge of historical facts and skills in researching, writing, and communicating can give you an edge in this profession. Make sure to work with your college newspaper, magazine, radio, or TV station and complete internships so you can present potential employers with your body of work.

Top Careers for History Majors

Many more lucrative jobs are available if you are willing to further your education. Achieving a master’s degree or doctorate in your field of interest can set you up for long-term success. Consider the following career options so you can decide what graduate degree you want to pursue. Many of these are also higher level positions, so be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up. All your hard work will pay off in terms of financial security and a career you love.

1. Museum archivist or curator

Median salary: $52,140
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 19%

Museums are in the business of attracting people interested in history, as they work to preserve historical artifacts and knowledge for future generations. Museums, therefore, need experts in history and communication, especially people with history degrees. Positions typically require a master’s degree in one of the following areas: history, art history, library science, archival studies, archaeology, or museum history.

As a curator, your job will be to acquire, store, and exhibit collections. Archivists work to preserve historically important documents and records. You can even run educational programs, become a museum director, represent your museum in the media, or participate in research projects.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University

View More Art History Master's Degrees

2. Librarian

Median salary: $60,820
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 9%

Organizing and filing information is one of the primary responsibilities of librarians, and few degrees prepare you for this task better than a history major. When working in a library, you will have to catalog and classify materials, maintain a catalog, and prepare aids for finding specific information. History majors will feel right at home with these tasks, since the degree prepares you to find information and organize your sources in a clean and professional manner.

Librarians typically need a master’s degree in library science accredited by the American Library Association. Knowledge in a certain topic, such as history, can help you fill specialized positions. You can also become a public school librarian or media specialist by completing a teacher’s certification.

Popular Pick: Master of Science in Library & Information Science from St. John’s University

View More Library Science Master's Degrees

3. Historian

Median salary: $63,100
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 5%

Historians ensure that history is kept alive by researching people and events and presenting their findings in articles, books, exhibits, websites, and educational programs. Government historians may study and provide information on specific events or groups, such as a military operation or space mission.

Most historian jobs require a master’s degree, and some research positions require a doctoral degree. Employers like to see majors in areas including history, museum studies, historical preservation, or archival management. Ph.D. programs allow you to concentrate on a specific topic, such as a country, region, or time period; or field, such as social, political, or cultural history.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Arts in History from Missouri State University

View More History Master's Degrees

4. Editor

Median salary: $63,400
Minimum education: Bachelor’s
Estimated growth: 5%

You only need a bachelor’s degree to become an editor, but prior work experience is key. While a degree in English, communications, or journalism is the most traditional route, candidates with other backgrounds can break into the field by showing their strong writing skills. Your knowledge of a particular subject, such as history, can also be a benefit for specialized roles.

Many editors start their careers as an editorial assistant, writer, or reporter. You can get started on this career path by gaining experience as a member of your college newspaper, magazine, radio, or TV station staff.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Arts in Journalism & Strategic Media from University of Memphis

View More Journalism Master's Degrees

5. Anthropologist/Archaeologist

Median salary: $66,130
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 7%

Much like historians, anthropologists and archaeologists conduct research to better understand the past. You might analyze artifacts to draw conclusions about the history, customs, and living habits of previous civilizations. Archaeologists can also work in national parks, protecting historically significant sites and educating the public. Some anthropologists help businesses conduct market research to determine the demand for products by a particular group.

After completing your history bachelor’s degree, you will need to pursue a master’s degree or Ph.D. in anthropology or archaeology. The most important factor to employers is evidence of fieldwork or laboratory experience, so make sure your graduate program offers ample opportunities.

Popular Pick: Master of Arts in Applied Anthropology from Humboldt State University

View More Anthropology Master's Degrees

6. History Professor

Median salary: $80,790
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 9%

Teach others about your favorite topic by becoming a college history professor. As a professor, you not only need a keen knowledge of the subjects you will be teaching, but you’ll also need to create instructional plans, assess assignments, and advise students. In larger institutions, you may have the opportunity to conduct original research and publish your findings.

You will need at least a master’s degree in your field of expertise, and many four-year universities require a Ph.D. Real world experience is also highly valued. During your graduate studies, you may be able to gain teaching experience by working as a graduate teaching assistant.

Popular Pick: Doctor of Philosophy in History from Liberty University

View More History Doctoral Degrees

7. Political Scientist

Median salary: $125,350
Minimum education: Master’s
Estimated growth: 9%

If you gravitate towards political history topics, a career in political science might be perfect for you. With knowledge of past events and key research skills, you will be able to analyze governments, policies, trends, and other related issues in politics. By understanding the past and studying the present, you will be able to forecast trends into the future.

Most political scientists need a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs in this area will look for you to have completed undergraduate courses in political science, writing, and statistics. The most common master’s degrees for political scientists are in public administration, public policy, and public affairs.

Best Buy Pick: Master of Public Administration / Government & Policy from Grand Canyon University

View More Public Administration Master's Degrees

8. Lawyer

Median salary: $126,930
Minimum education: Juris Doctor (law degree)
Estimated growth: 9%

History is one of the most common undergraduate fields of study for aspiring lawyers, but that is only the first step. Most states require you to complete a Juris Doctor degree from a school accredited by the American Bar Association, which typically requires at least another three years of study. You will need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to begin your graduate studies.

Once admitted to a program, you can specialize your studies in areas such as tax, labor, corporate, constitutional, civil, or property law. As a lawyer, you will consult with clients, file legal documents, and prepare and present cases in court. Your research skills will come into play as you study laws and judicial decisions as they relate to your clients’ needs.

Popular Pick: Doctor of Law & Policy from Liberty University

View More Law Degrees

How to Land History Major Jobs

Liberal arts degrees, including philosophy, literature, and of course, history, can get a bad reputation for being too broad, meaning they don’t directly apply to a single career. However, the broadness is actually one distinct advantage of a history degree. You can choose from a large variety of career options after graduation. Jobs you can do with a history degree range from writing historical books to teaching to practicing law. But how do you convince employers that you are the right candidate for a job?

It applies to any position, but you should always focus on how your skills and experience benefit an employer. Some educational paths have it easy, as their skills directly apply to the position. An accounting major, for example, has a pretty clear idea of how their skills will help a business. So how does a history degree help a business? Start by finding out what the position includes and highlight ways that your education complements these tasks. This can include all of your research, communication, and analytical skills, but try to be as specific as possible. Internships and extracurricular activities can also show your experience in the field.

The best place to start selling these benefits is your cover letter. The resume is all about you: what you’ve done, where you’ve been, and what recognitions you’ve earned. The cover letter, however, should be about the employer and how you can help their needs. Site an example of their needs in the job description, and then highlight how your history degree and skills will fill this need.

Get the Most Out of Your History Degree

With such a broad range of possibilities, it’s a good idea to start to determine what path you want to take after graduation while you’re still in school. Will a specific concentration or minor help your job prospects? Maybe an internship or other experience like working for the school newspaper or joining student government will give you a leg up on the competition. As you’ve seen, many occupations also require additional education. You will need to determine what certifications, training, or graduate degrees are expected in your field.

Degree Concentrations

You can focus your studies by choosing a concentration within your history degree. You will gain a thorough understanding of history in general through core coursework, but adding a concentration allows you to go more in-depth in the areas that interest you the most. Some concentrations may focus on a particular geographic region. Others prepare you for a specific career path, such as pre-law or museum studies. Yet others cover various themes and topics. Some options may include:

  • Economics and Business
  • Human Rights and Social Movements
  • Law and Governance
  • Medicine, Science, and Technology
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • War and Military
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Minors that Complement a History Degree

Because history covers so many topics and can apply to so many industries, there are many options that you can take. A minor can help focus your studies on the profession that most interests you or provide you with additional skills to enhance your job prospects.

A minor in journalism is especially useful for history majors, as it ensures you have vital skills in research and communication. The combination of historical knowledge and journalistic skills makes you even more effective in both fields. Other minors commonly paired with a history degree include business, political science, philosophy, and foreign languages.

Real-World Experience

Your college years are the perfect time to start getting some resume-boosting experience under your belt. Take on internship opportunities, participate in extracurricular activities, and find summer or part-time jobs that relate to your interests. With a broad degree like history, employers will like to see that you have familiarity with their specific industry.

If you plan on going into journalism or writing, consider working on the school newspaper or taking an internship at a local TV station. If you want to become a political scientist, volunteer with a local political campaign or intern at the statehouse. A summer job at an art museum can prepare you for a career as a curator or archivist.

Certifications

Some industries require certifications or reward those who achieve them. Public school teachers, for example, are required to become certified before they can enter the job market. If you want to teach history at the high school level, you will need to become certified in your state. Each state sets their own standards, so the amount of testing varies depending on where you live.

Some professions have certificates that simply make you more hirable and attractive to employers. Librarians, for example, can become certified through the American Association of School Librarians. The American Bar Association offers a certification in paralegal studies. These certificates require you to complete courses, pass tests, and demonstrate competency in a specific area of work.

Master’s & Doctorate Degrees

Many of the top history major jobs we listed require master’s degrees or higher. To become a lawyer, for example, you’ll need to go through law school. That requires about three years of additional study after completing your undergrad degree. Then you’ll need to pass the bar exam. Each state or jurisdiction requires aspiring attorneys to take and pass this exam to prove their competence and readiness to practice law.

History professors need at least a master’s degree, and many employers expect candidates to have a doctorate in a specific history topic. For other careers, you will want to supplement your broad-based undergraduate degree with a graduate education that focuses on your intended job. For example, librarians are expected to have a master’s degree in library science; archaeologists need a graduate degree in archaeology; and political scientists most commonly have degrees in public administration, public policy, or public affairs.

A bachelor’s degree in history is the perfect springboard for so many careers. With the right combination of concentration, minor, experience, certification, and graduate education, the possibilities are endless. A little thought and planning in these details before or during your undergraduate studies can go a long way in helping you prepare for future success in a field that you love.

With a broad range of skills and a strong knack for research and writing, history major jobs abound, and, with the right approach, history majors can work at practically any company in the world.

Professional History Organizations

Joining a professional organization provides you with valuable insights and career guidance. Being part of an organization can also lend credibility and help you cultivate connections with those in your field. These things can benefit you when looking for history major jobs. Here are a few of the most well-known professional organizations for history majors:

American Historical Association – The AHA is the oldest membership organization for working historians in the US. The group publishes articles of interest in its publications, American Historical Review and Perspectives on History. AHA uses its influence to help inform ethics, teaching practices, and policies related to history.

National Council on Public History – Dedicated to making the past useful in the present, NCPH encourages collaboration between historians and the public. The group establishes standards and best practices, offers professional development opportunities, allows for networking, and supports history education. Members receive up-to-date information on educational and professional matters through The Public Historian, Public History News, and [email protected] blog.

Oral History Association – OHA is an international organization dedicated to documenting oral traditions and testimonies. They set standards in the field, offer awards and grants, and provide online resources to members.

Organization of American Historians – The OAH focuses primarily on education of American history. The organization publishes the Journal of American History and The American Historian magazines. Members can take advantage of free teaching tools and professional discounts.

World History Association – Members of the WHA are primarily educators of global history. The association promotes a cross-cultural understanding of history. Teachers can subscribe to the Journal of World History, use WHA curriculum guides, and attend an annual conference.

Get Started with an Online History Degree

If you’ve decided that a bachelor’s degree in history is the right path for you, then check out these 100% online and fully accredited options to find the best program to fit your educational needs and career goals.

With an online degree, you can earn an education while balancing work, family, and social demands. Many programs offer flexible scheduling and an accelerated pace designed for busy adults. Whether your interests lie in military history, museum studies, European history, or another area altogether, you can find a history program that’s a perfect fit. Your education will open the door to these many, varied history major jobs.

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