The AHA project "What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work"
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What can I do with a major in History?
A major in history can be a preparation for a variety of careers. While some students choose to major in history to help them prepare for teaching middle or high school, history or social sciences or to participate in Teach for America, a history major isn't just for teachers. And although a few history majors intend to pursue a Master's or PhD in order to seek employment in colleges and universities, keep in mind that there are many different paths you can take with your history degree.
History is not merely the study of the past. In studying history, students develop many marketable basic skills, such as learning how to:
- Organize and interpret data
- Write with precision and clarity
- Develop logical, convincing arguments
- Combine solid research with creativity
In all avenues of the business world - or education or academia - written reports are a fundamental form of communication, and history majors master this skill early. Many achieve proficiency in a foreign language, and this increases their value to many potential employers.
Recent graduates from the undergraduate history program at Washington University have used their degree to support many different options, including:
Graduate School · Library or Archival Fields · Teach for America · MBA Programs · Museum Sudies · Master of Arts in Teaching Public Administration · MAT Programs · MBA Programs · Adverstising and Media · Business · Management · Government Service · Sales and Marketing · Journalism · Medical School · Law School · Travel Agencies
What types of places hire History majors?
Libraries · Archives · Museums · International Organizations · Historical Societies · National Park Service
What type of work do History majors do?
Writing · Cataloging · Research · Preservation · Editing · Publishing · Urban Planning · Teaching
In addition, many places, including the National Park Service, urban planners, and historical preservation councils hire historians to conduct work at their facilities.
A few companies employ full-time historians, while others contract with consultants to analyze marketing and political risks, plan archives, assemble company records, and write corporate histories.
Why do companies like History graduates and individuals with humanities degrees?
Research Training · Knowledge · Writing Skills · Perspective
No matter what career path you decide to persue, remember that for most graduates, the study of history is not narrow job training, but a fundamental educational experience. Literate, well-educated individuals will continue to find jobs. Even for the majority who do not find employment based on their course work in history, their study has provided them with skills, with an understanding of society and institutions, and with an insight into the human conndition, If the study of history does nothing but broaden perspectives, create avid and critical readers, mold informed and thoughtful citizens, it has done its job.
The important issue is the planning and setting of goals. Double majors, for example, in English or in languages, course work in accounting, statistics, economics, or political science, or in other fields - all help to make the history major more valuable. Plan early, set priorities, gain out-of-the-classroom experience, seek advice, and a history major can be rewarding to you, both personally and in the job market.