What Can You Do with a History Degree?

by TBS Staff
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A degree in history teaches critical reading, writing, and thinking skills, all of which are highly transferable in the workplace.

History majors learn about the fall of Rome, the rise of colonialism, and the founding of the United States. While studying the past, history students build strong writing, critical thinking, and research skills. Many industries value these abilities, which means history majors have varied career options after graduation.

But what can you do with a history degree? This article explores common career paths for history graduates, including opportunities in education, business, academia, and the public sector.

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Careers in History

Thanks to the strong analytical, research, and writing skills gained during a history degree, graduates can find work in many industries, including education, law, management, and administration. With a graduate degree, they can even work as lawyers, archivists, historians, or history professors.

This section explores common career paths for history majors, including job growth data and required education level.

Associate or Bachelor's Degrees Required

Career and Technical Education Teachers
Median Salary (2019): $58,110 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 2%

Career and technical education teachers specialize in subjects like culinary arts, auto repair, and business. CTE teachers must bring experience in their vocational area, and they need strong writing, critical thinking, and communication skills, which can come from a history program.

Middle School Teachers
Median Salary (2019): $59,660 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

Middle school teachers educate young learners in their specialty subjects. They present material, assess student learning, and help students build skills like analysis and reading comprehension. With a history degree, middle school teachers can teach social studies, history, or civics.

High School Teacher
Median Salary (2019): $61,660 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

High school teachers educate students on subjects like language arts, science, and mathematics, emphasizing skills that prepare learners for college or the workforce. A graduate with a history degree could teach high school history, government, or social studies.

Master's or Doctoral Degree Required

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers
Median Salary (2019): $49,850 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 11%

Archivists, curators, and museum workers preserve material with historical or cultural value. Archivists catalogue and maintain records, while curators manage collections of objects and materials, often working within acquisitions. Museum workers also prepare collections and exhibits.

Instructional Coordinators
Median Salary (2019): $66,290 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%

Instructional coordinators create educational material to meet curriculum goals. They train teachers in how to implement curriculum, analyze test data, update materials, and mentor educators on improving their teaching skills. The critical thinking and analysis skills gained in a history degree serve instructional coordinators well.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Median Salary (2019): $96,400 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

K-12 principals oversee daily operations and long-term planning for schools. They manage teachers and staff, promote a productive learning environment, and implement curriculum plans. Principals also report to superintendents and the school board.

History Teachers, Postsecondary
Median Salary (2019): $96,400 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

K-12 principals oversee daily operations and long-term planning for schools. They manage teachers and staff, promote a productive learning environment, and implement curriculum plans. Principals also report to superintendents and the school board.

History Teachers, Postsecondary
Median Salary (2019): $79,540 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 9%

Postsecondary history teachers, also known as history professors, teach history classes and conduct historical research. They also advise students, assess student work, and present their own work at conferences. History professors typically need a doctorate.

Lawyers
Median Salary (2019): $122,960 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

Lawyers advise clients on legal issues and represent them in court cases. They analyze legal issues, interpret laws and regulations, and prepare legal documents. A history degree builds the analytical, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary for law school.

What Kinds of History Degrees Are There?

What you can do with a history degree it depends on which degree you get. A bachelor's in history, for example, meets the requirements for many entry-level opportunities in education, business, and the public sector. With a master's degree, graduates can pursue careers as historians, museum curators, or educators. Finally, a doctorate leads to academic positions, like history professor.

Associate Degree in History

An associate degree in history introduces learners to the fundamental skills used when studing the past. In introductory courses, history students learn about the process of historical change and major events in history, emphasizing critical reading, analytics, and writing skills.

Earning an associate degree takes two years. With an associate degree in history, graduates can work as paralegals, administrative assistants, or information clerks. Graduates can also transfer into a bachelor's program.

Bachelor of History Degree

A bachelor's degree in history builds research and writing skills, covering courses from a broad swath of eras and places. For example, majors may study modern American history, ancient China, and medieval Europe. Majors may specialize their training by choosing a focus area or concentration like military history, Asian history, diplomatic history, or women's studies.

Earning a bachelor's degree generally takes four years for full-time students, though students with an associate can often finish in two. After graduation, bachelor's in history degree-holders can pursue varied careers, including in education, management, legal services, administration, and sales.

Master's Degree in History

A master's degree in history offers advanced-level coursework that strengthens research and critical thinking skills. Graduate students focus on specialty areas, like American history, world history, environmental history, or women's history. Most programs require a master's exam or master's thesis. Full-time graduate students can earn a master's degree in two years, and some schools offer online options.

With a master's in history, graduates can pursue careers as historians, archivists, and curators. Educators can increase income potential by completing a master's degree in their subject area, so social studies, U.S. government, and civics teachers also benefit from a master's in history.

Doctoral Degree in History

A doctorate in history trains students for careers in academia and research. During a doctoral program, graduate students focus their studies on a specific area within history, conducting their own research. They also take seminar courses, methodology and theory classes, and specialized courses for their focus area. After meeting coursework requirements, doctoral students pass comprehensive exams and begin dissertation research, often working in university archives.

Earning a doctorate typically takes 5-7 years. With a Ph.D. in history, graduates work as history professors in 2- and 4-year colleges. They can also pursue careers as higher education administrators. Some historians also work in the public sector.

Accreditation for History Programs

Regionally accredited colleges and universities meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. To earn accreditation, schools must undergo a rigorous review of their student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements.

Credits earned at an accredited school are more likely to transfer to other schools, and accredited institutions can distribute federal financial aid to students. As a result, prospective history majors should look for a regionally accredited institution when applying to programs. Learn more about accreditation by visiting our accreditation guide.

Professional Organizations

Founded in 1884, the AHA advocates for historians and students of history by setting professional standards, encouraging scholarship, and sharing teaching resources. The AHA also provides job and professional development resources, including mentoring opportunities, career resources for history majors and historians, and career path guides for graduates with a history degree The WHA brings together scholars, teachers, and students who work on world history. The association promotes scholarship and teaching in the field while also hosting a conference with networking opportunities. Members can access academic publications and discounts on registration fees. The WHA also awards prizes, including prizes for undergraduate and graduate papers An international association, the OHA promotes the field of oral history and sets standards for using oral testimony and documentation. The association also offers awards and grants to support teaching, research, and publications in the field. Members can access remote interviewing resources, web guides on oral history, and educator's resources Founded in 1969, the WAWH is a regional historical association that promotes women historians. The WAWH hosts conferences, publishes a newsletter, and offers access to online archives and history resources. Members can also network and connect with other women historians

Frequently Asked Questions

true What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in History?

A bachelor's degree in history prepares graduates for careers in fields like education, public relations, marketing, business, and journalism. It is a versatile liberal arts degree that builds transferable skills, like critical analysis and writing.

Is a History Degree Worth It?

A history degree builds strong research, writing, and critical thinking skills, which are all highly transferable career skills. Employers in diverse fields, including the public and private sector, seek out candidates with these skills.

How Much Do History Majors Make?

According to PayScale, history majors earn an average salary of nearly $67,000 per year. Many history majors also pursue a graduate degree to increase earning potential and career options.

What Is the Highest Paying Job With a History Degree?

History majors pursue careers in many high-paying careers, including roles like lawyer, principal, manager, higher education administrator, and public relations manager.

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