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A Passion for the Past: How to Use a History Degree

You can do more with a History degree than you may realize. Here are a few suggestions of where to take your career with your great historical background.

Living in the past doesn’t always have to be a bad thing—just ask people who’ve made history the focal point of their careers. It may seem like studying the past won’t guarantee you a specific future career, but a History degree can open plenty of doors for you to pursue your passion. If you’re considering studying History, here’s what you should know before declaring your major.

Why is studying History valuable?

A knowledge of history opens doors—and eyes. One of the primary reasons to study history is because it shifts humankind away from ignorance. Knowing history and learning from humanity’s past mistakes can help move us in the right direction for the future. We can solve age-old problems that arise with a fresh perspective because we’ve dealt with them before. As such, history gives us a framework for looking at the world. 

The knowledge you pick up while completing your History degree will serve you well post-grad too. Most History majors follow a liberal arts curriculum, which involves taking supplementary courses that’ll open your mind to a myriad of new ideas. You’ll learn to write well, analyze problems, and organize and assess facts. Liberal Arts majors have no trouble breaking down complex ideas and events to better understand them.

Ultimately, studying history is valuable because you care. The number of ways in which you can study history is virtually endless. Along with world events, you can explore the history of art, music, cuisine, sexuality, and so much more. If it matters to you, it carries importance—and makes history a worthy area of study for you.

Related: Colleges With Fine History Departments  

What can I do with a History degree? 

So you're wondering what you can do with a degree in History. First, let’s highlight the education level required for many jobs in the various fields looking for History majors. Most career paths will only require you to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, although some might require you to pursue a master’s or doctorate in the field. The good news is there’s plenty of variety when it comes to career paths to consider. While most salaries start at $25,000–$30,000, you can build your history career to impressive and lucrative levels. Here are some jobs that may suit you post-grad.

Historian

Becoming a historian is an obvious way for you to put your History degree to good use. A slew of organizations hire people for this role, including museums, nonprofits, and businesses. You’ll research and analyze information and artifacts. You may also have the opportunity to present and share your findings at seminars, conferences, and more. Historians also find work at colleges and universities, enlightening other history lovers and students through a career as a professor. 

Lawyer

You can’t become a lawyer with a History degree alone, of course—you’ll have to go on to study for your JD, among other steps. However, plenty of undergraduate historians go on to pursue law. Lawyers and historians must rely on facts from the past, analyze them, and present them to others to win cases and fight for justice. Therefore, your degree in History can be the perfect stepping-stone to becoming a successful lawyer. 

Related: Preparing for the Legal Journey: 9 Tips for Students Interested in Law

Librarian

Some library jobs require staffers to have specialized knowledge of the subject matter shared through their institution. As such, a BA in History can bulk your résumé and prove you have what it takes to serve as a librarian. Of course, there are plenty of different types of libraries—you might find yourself working in a hospital, public school, or university. 

Archivist

With a deep understanding of history, you could become a successful archivist with many options for organizations to work for. Archivists analyze potentially meaningful documents to decide if they have historical value and how they need to be catalogued. They organize and store the pieces they choose and write descriptions of what the documents contain. These archives serve other historians and researchers who rely on these preserved papers. 

Teacher

History majors make great teachers. A classroom role would give you the chance to inspire future learners like a teacher in your past may have done for you. You will be able to spark students’ interest in history, expand their knowledge of the world, and even shape future historians. And as a bonus, being a teacher often gives you the most opportunity to continue life-long learning in your passions and interests. 

Editor or writer

As a History major, you’ll need to write plenty of papers in which you must back up your claims with reputable research. Professional writers and editors use many of these same skills. That’s why so many History majors end up working in the media and communications fields—the skill set transfers seamlessly. As a writer or editor, however, you may even shape history instead of just studying it. 

Related: 3 Great Career Options for History Majors

As these examples demonstrate, a History degree doesn’t pigeonhole you into one career path. In fact, it develops skill sets across subject matters and broadens your knowledge base to prepare you for almost any career. When you study the past, you have a world of opportunities ahead of you.

So you know you want to major in History? Find colleges and universities with great History programs using our College Search tool.

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About Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel is an education writer who helps students and teachers pursue their passions. Read more of her work on Syllabusy

 

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