How Is the Job Outlook for History Majors?


History majors might wonder what the job outlook is for careers utilizing their degrees. The answer is that it depends upon which career they choose. History is not a linear degree. Teaching degrees are meant to lead to the student becoming a teacher. Accounting degrees point toward careers in accounting. Medical students don’t usually end up as tax lawyers. History is different. It is a humanities degree and very open-ended as far as career choices available to graduates.

an image accompanying our article on the job outlook for history majorsHistory Skills Sets

The reason history is a flexible degree is that the courses involved build desirable skill sets. History students spend a lot of time analyzing data. They must be able to see a larger picture based on data fragments. History degrees focus heavily on communication skills, especially writing including technical and grant writing. History majors learn to use deductive reasoning and they are adept problem solvers. Because much of history is learned through excavation and artifact examination, historians are detail-oriented.

So here is why that matters. A study that asked employers what qualities they looked for in job applicants developed this list:

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• They must be able to lead a team and work collaboratively

• They must communicate effectively

• They must be problem-solvers

• They must be able to take the initiative

• They must be able to analyze data

• They must pay attention to detail

All of those qualities are part of the skill set that history programs develop in graduates.

Traditional Careers

Traditional careers for history majors include working as a curator, an anthropologist, a teacher, an archivist, a historian, and others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that demand for historians will grow as fast as the average career and gives $61,140 as the median salary for the professionals. Curators and archivists earn less ($ 48,400), but the projected career growth is nine percent, which is greater than average. The BLS says teaching careers for post-secondary teachers earn a median salary of $78,470 and the projected job growth rate is much higher than the average.

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Non-Traditional Careers

History graduates often find careers in unexpected places. Law, for instance, is a career where the history skill set is applicable. The mean wage for lawyers is $144,230, and the expected job growth rate is higher than average. The job growth for geologists and anthropologists, another good fit for history majors, is faster than the average as well. The median salary for these professions is $62,310. Because of the emphasis in history programs of written communication, journalism and writing are good career choices. While the job outlook for journalists and general writers is not as rosy, the growth in technical writing is projected at eight percent and those jobs have a median salary of $71,850.

Additionally, job opportunities for history graduates follow the same trend as other careers do. That is, people with graduate degrees generally make $17,000 more than those with undergraduate degrees.

History is a major within the humanities, and humanities majors have great latitude in career choices. Advertising, research and even business careers are built upon the skills that history majors possess. Because of the variety of careers available, it is hard to quote a specific job growth rate or even to speculate upon salaries. However, people with history majors are well-placed to earn good salaries in careers that are satisfying and fulfilling.