Careers with a History Degree


An undergraduate degree in history is not meant to prepare you for specific professions. However, there's no doubt that it can be a stepping-stone to many interesting ones.


This is due to the fact that as a history student, you have the chance to learn and develop a range of intellectual and general skills that will make you very attractive to discerning employers.


These skills include: researching, evaluating, organizing and presenting material; clarity and correctness of expression; critical thought; capacity for extended independent work; appreciation of the validity of the views of others, and imaginative insight.


All these skills and aptitudes you'll gain as a result of studying history are highly employable, and make you suitable for a variety of career fields, from public service and law, banking and business, journalism and the media, to teaching and academia.



What a Major in History Can Teach You

It is important to study history because understanding where we came from is fundamental to the proper functioning of human society; it helps us understand where we are now, and where we are likely going. In other words, studying the past is crucial to understanding the present.


Studying history gives us the tools to help us separate historical fact from historical myth. Having the proper tools, such as the ability to evaluate historical information critically, can help prevent such occurrences as wealthy societies consuming their way into extinction, and more importantly, can help prevent armed conflicts and genocide.


Understanding the paths that brought societies and elements of those societies to where they were, and where they are today, is a crucial factor in the avoidance of repeating past mistakes and determining a proper course for our future.





Employable Skills You'll Gain as a Result of Your Studies

If you're studying history purely out of personal interest, and you're not sure if it'll help you get a job, don't worry. A degree in this academic field will provide you with the opportunity to learn a host of employable skills that are transferrable among many different types of careers.


Principally, it will enable you to develop the ability to understand and analyze issues and events at a high level of competence. Other marketable skills include:


• A talent for clear expression, both oral and written

• Reading and listening with critical thought

• Putting forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner

• Gathering, investigating and assessing material

• Basing conclusions on research and generating ideas

• Organizing material in a logical and coherent way

• Effectively and objectively investigate problems

• Understanding the impact that past actions can have on present and future outcomes


Success Tip: Keep in mind, that to employers these skills and competencies are often much more important than the actual subject matter you have studied.



Directly Relevant Careers

With the degree-specific skills you’ve gained, you can pursue the following careers (not a comprehensive list…there are many more out there!):


• Anthropologist

• Archaeologist

• Archival Technician

• Archive Assistant

• Archivist

• Bilingual Tour Consultant

• Biographer

• Blogger

• Cataloguer

• Cultural Advisor

• Curatorial Assistant

• Diplomat

• Ethno-Historian

• Ethnologist

• Film Archivist

• Gallery Assistant

• Genealogist

• Government Researcher

• Governmental Program Agent

• Historian

• Historic Preservationist

• Historical Artifact Conservator

• Historical Site Administrator

• Historical Society Director

• Interpretive Guide

• Media Consultant

• Municipal Administrator

• Museum Curator

• Museum Director

• Museum Interpreter

• Museum Researcher

• Museum Technician

• Production Researcher

• Research Assistant

• Social Scientist

• Tour Guide

• University Professor





Indirectly Relevant Careers

Not interested in a career that’s directly related to your degree? That’s okay, because of the transferable skills you’ve gained (as mentioned above), there will be plenty of other professions for which your degree will serve as a solid foundation:


• Appraiser

• Customer Relations Clerk

• Economist

• Election Officer

• High School Teacher

• Information Broker

• Intelligence Analyst

• Intelligence Officer

• Journalist

• Judge

• Legal Advisor

• Librarian

• Linguist

• Lobbyist

• Map Librarian

• Mayor

• Military Officer

• Paralegal

• Personnel Manager

• Production Assistant

• Project Supervisor

• Public Relations Specialist

• Publication Assistant

• Sales Representative

• Staff Writer

• Technical Writer


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers may require education, training and experience above and beyond the scope of an undergraduate degree. Click on careers you’re interested in to find out more about its specific requirements.



Tips for Becoming Even More Employable

In order to increase your chances of finding relevant employment with your history degree, consider the following tips:


• Consider a graduate degree in history

• Increase your employable skill set with a double major

• Gain relevant career experience as a student

• Don’t be scared to start at the bottom






Salary You Could Earn as a History Grad

The salary you could earn upon entering the work force isn't necessarily a direct reflection of your degree. It depends most on the type of profession you enter (granted, some professions you can't pursue without a certain type of degree, such as medicine). Regardless of profession, with all else being equal, your salary will also be dependent on the following factors:


• 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



Actual Salary Figures

Let's cut to the chase; here's an overview of what history graduates in Ontario are earning, regardless of which occupation they've chosen to pursue. (with most up to date figures that are available). 


History Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a salary survey in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $43,468 CAD is the average salary earned by a social science graduate, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008.


Unfortunately, statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.



Scholarships for History Students

Are you a history student looking for help paying for school? Search our History Scholarships page for Canadian and American scholarships that are specifically suited for this field.


Success Tip: 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

To find out more about careers in the field of history, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have job boards that advertise job openings.



Canadian Oral History Association

Canadian Historical Association

The Association of Canadian Archivists


United States

American Antiquarian Society

American Association for History and Computing

American Historical Association

Oral History Association

The Organization of American Historians



Top Banner Image: 
Top Banner Image Title: