What Can I do With a Degree in History?
A degree in History prepares students to pursue a wide range of careers in business, government, education, and the non-profit sector.
Majors in History develop skills in research, analysis, writing, communications, computation, reasoning, and ethical judgement. These are some of the most highly valued skills among employers today.
Of course, such skills are developed in many majors, but they are especially honed in liberal arts majors, like History. But you will improve your abilities with these intellectual skills -- and therefore be more marketable -- if you major in something you value and appreciate. You are more likely to work hard, and therefore push yourself to be a better researcher, thinking, and writer if you enjoy the assignments and topics you have to work on.
For this reason, it’s important to choose a major that excites you to work hard to improve. In this sense, a History major, even if it seems only indirectly related to your future goals can be more useful than an applied major that does not excite you to develop difficult, but important abilities in research, writing, and analysis.
Direct and Indirect Historical Careers
Some career paths allow majors to use and employ their historical training in a direct way. These include teaching history in the high school, pursuing a graduate degree in History, working as a museum curator or historical site administrator, or as a corporate archivist.
Other career paths allow you to use skills developed in the History major in important, but indirect ways. These include jobs like anti-terrorism intelligence agent, foreign service officer, congressional aide, or even religious leader. A large segment of History majors go on to careers in business management (15%) and another segment to legal careers (11%).
Career Development and Marketability
Liberal arts majors -- such as History majors -- are among the most marketable majors in the United States because majors in these areas have skills that employers desire. In fact, over a lifetime, however, liberal arts majors tend to out-earn majors in science, engineering, and math (STEM).
But liberal arts majors also need to get their “foot in the door” at a first job. To help majors get their first job, we recommend that they intentionally develop and hone one immediately marketable skill, such as audio and video editing, or web site development, or technical writing. These skills can be developed in courses or on one’s own. In either case, possessing a specific and identifiable skill can help History majors to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs.
We also recommend that students learn about and use the resources of the ISU Career Center, and start working with a career counselor in the junior year so that they are ready to apply for fulfilling jobs upon graduation.
To help you to imagine what History majors might do, we have listed some careers for historians below. This list is not prescriptive. It’s something of a cliche to say, “you can do anything with a liberal arts major.” But you can. Here are some possibilities:
Educational Media Producer
Film Research Assistant
High School Teacher
Historic Real Estate Specialist
Risk Assessment Specialist