Careers with a First Nations Studies Degree


Although an education in First Nations Studies does not provide professional training for specific careers, it does provide you with an education that directly prepares you for careers in which collaboration with First Nations communities plays an important role.


It can also prepare you for a variety of other careers, as we'll outline below.



More On What You Can Do with This Degree

With this degree, you may choose to pursue professions directly related to your major, such as "aboriginal housing advocate", "lobbyist" or "political researcher". You may also choose to pursue professions that are indirectly related to the degree, such as "paralegal" or "journalist".


You might even decide to pursue graduate studies in order to further your education and advanced your skills and knowledge in a specialized area. As you can see, there are no shortage of options, it's just a matter of discovering what path you want to take


So, if you’d like to know more about what you can do with this degree, read on below. This First Nations studies careers guide contains detailed occupational information on relevant occupations. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers.



What This Major Can Teach You

First Nations studies is the examination of various social, political, cultural and historical aspects of First Nations peoples. It provides you with multiple points of reference to analyze the history, languages, politics, psychology, health, arts and sociology of various First Nations peoples in North America and around the world.


The purpose of a First Nations studies program is to gain an understanding of the factors that impact local and global First Nations peoples. Determining these factors helps you develop strategies towards contemporary issues facing indigenous peoples today.





Employable Skills It Can Teach You

As a graduate of this field, you’ll have a multitude of unique employable skills as a result of your coursework. These skills are most relevant when pursuing a career that involves collaboration with First Nations communities in some capacity. These skills include:


• A thorough understanding of the similarities and differences of First Nations societies within their own communities and the world

• An open-minded point of view

• Awareness of current social issues facing different First Nations groups

• Able to identify and understand complex issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples

• Ability to examine these issues from various perspectives

• Sensitivity to preconceptions and stereotypes

• Ability to examine issues surrounding, and form conclusions regarding First Nations peoples and their interaction with western cultures

• Ability to identify creative ways to overcome current challenges with respect to problems with cross cultural knowledge, experience and tolerance

• An understanding of federal First Nations policies, related laws and sovereignty issues

• An understanding of First Nations societies, languages, identities, cultures, world views and political issues



Relevant Occupations

Below is a list of careers you can pursue based on the skills you’ve gained as a result of your First Nations studies degree. Some of these careers are more relevant to your degree than others, although all of them can make use of the skills you’ve earned.


• Aboriginal Housing Advocate

• Anthropologist

• Biographer

• Blogger

• Community Education Officer

• Community Involvement Animator

• Cultural Affairs Officer

• Election Officer

• Field Service Agent

• First Nations Education Coordinator

• Gallery Owner

• Government Researcher

• Governmental Program Agent

• Indigenous People's Human Rights Coordinator

• Journalist

• Lobbyist

• Multiculturalism Liaison Officer

• Museum Curator

• Paralegal

• Political Researcher

• Politician

• Public Relations Specialist

• Social Worker

• University Professor

• Vocational Rehabilitation Coordinator



Gaining Practical Career Experience as a Student

Pursuing an internship, field experience, practicum or co-op opportunity in career fields related to your First Nations studies degree is the best way to gain work experience while you are still a student. Work experience opportunities give students a chance to work in collaboration with various First Nations organizations.



How to Find Relevant Internships

Your school may or may not require you to participate in an internship or other form of work experience program. If it is an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you. If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, other First Nations studies department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.


If seeking an internship from an outside source, be cautious, as many internship opportunities operate in the grey area of employment law, and are designed to use students as free labour in order to perform mundane tasks.





How Much You Can Earn with This Degree

You may be curious as to what salary you can earn as a First Nations studies graduate first entering the work force. The truth is, your salary could vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have


Salary - Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $38,497 CAD is the average salary earned by Humanities graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008.


This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in “Humanities”, not specifically for First Nations studies graduates. Unfortunately similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources at the time of writing.





Relevant Scholarships

Are you a First Nations studies major looking for help paying for school? Search our scholarships database for Canadian and American First Nations studies-specific scholarships.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations

Professional associations are collections of practitioners, organizations and agencies committed to the support, development and enhancement of the professions relevant to the field of First Nations studies.


If you are interested in a career directly related to your First Nations studies degree, you should consult these websites for more information:



Aboriginal Financial Officers Association

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers

Native Women’s Association of Canada


United States

American Indian Research and Policy Institute

Association on American Indian Affairs

National American Indian Housing Council

Native Dispute Resolution Network



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