Common Career Fields for History Majors

Common Career Fields for History Majors


Many history majors go on to become educators, focusing on the communication of their ideas. Educators include teachers in elementary and secondary education. They also include higher education on many levels, including teaching at community colleges, undergraduate colleges and universities. But educators also are important members of other educational institutions that you may not think of as immediately as schools. These include historic sites and museums, where history majors can become docents, education directors, curators, guides and interpreters. In addition, teaching can take forms other than standing up in front of a classroom. These include work as historical consultants, contract archivists, public historians, writers and even filmmakers.


Many history majors enter careers as researchers, emphasizing their skills in evaluating and analyzing documentary evidence. Historians as researchers include public historians as well as policy advisers, who serve as planners, evaluators and policy analysts, often for state, local and federal governments. In addition, historians often find employment as researchers for museums and historical organizations, or pursue additional specialized training to become professionals in cultural resources management and historic preservation.


Because success as a history major depends upon learning to write effectively, many historians become writers and editors. They make their living as authors of historical books, or more commonly, they work as editors at publishing houses. Many historians become print and broadcast journalists, and others become documentary editors who oversee the publication of documents such as those produced by government agencies.


Because history majors must learn to deal with documents, many pursue a one- or two-year graduate program in library studies (commonly, a master of library science, or MLS, degree) or archival management, and enter careers as information managers. With this additional training, they enter the fields of archives management, information management, records management and librarianship.


Many history majors find that historical training makes a perfect preparation for law school, as historians and lawyers often do roughly the same thin — they argue persuasively using historical data to support their arguments. Many history majors become lawyers; some undertake careers in litigation support as paralegals. Others enter public service and become policy makers, serve as legislative staff members at all levels of government, or become officers of granting agencies or foundations.


Most people overlook the value of a history major in preparing an intelligent person for a career in business. Historians track historic trends, an important skill for people who are developing products to market or are engaged in corporate or financial planning. Many people who completed an undergraduate degree in history enter banking, insurance and stock analysis. Historians also learn how to write persuasively, and this training gives them an edge in advertising, communications media and marketing. Many industries additionally depend on an intimate knowledge of government policies and historical trends; thus, history majors have found their skills useful in extractive industries and in public utilities.