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Career Information for History Majors

Much has been made, and rightly so, of the challenges of the twenty-first century. As we move into a post-industrial world, educators and the public that they serve place increasing emphasis on acquiring the skills and mastering the technology that will allow all citizens to compete and succeed in the global marketplace. In this age of rapid social, economic, and political change, the study of history may appear to be increasingly irrelevant. To cope with change, however, we need an informed citizenry that can bring judgment and wisdom to bear on the challenging questions and issues that are part of and will shape this unknown future. Although the study of history is intrinsically valuable, it also teaches us to appreciate nuance, multiple perspectives, complex motives, paradox, the fragile nature of republics and democracies, and, above all, the responsibilities and burdens of citizenship.

Although many parents of students who would like to major in history question the value and relevancy of the discipline—what does the past have to do with the present and a rapidly changing future—it is precisely this complex present and uncertain future that point up the importance, not irrelevance of history. The study of history conveys a sense of paradox, tragedy, and comedy of the human condition. This, in turn, imparts a sense of judgment and wisdom about human societies. History conveys a sense of context; it teaches us to accept the burdens of living with tentative answers and unfinished business. History teaches us to accept costs and compromises and to take on responsibilities as quickly as we claim the rights of citizenship. In short the study of history creates a critical-thinking public that can ask the hard question, and is suspicious of simplistic analyses.  Thus history majors acquire skills and a sense of judgment that serve them well both as students and in their public and private lives. 

Explore the many career paths for history majors with these resources from the American Historical Association.

Careers in History

Non-Profit Sector

  • Archives
    • Archivist
    • Records Manager
  • Historical Associations & Societies
  • Libraries
    • Reference, Catalog, Research or Technical Librarian
  • Museums
    • Curator
    • Conservator
    • Educational specialist
    • Publication specialist
    • Public relations specialist
  • Research Institutions
  • Religious and Philanthropic Organizations
  • Teaching

Private Sector

  • Organizations that Emphasize History
    • Consulting and freelance assignments
    • Archives/records management
    • Cultural resource management
    • Historical research/writing/editing
    • Legal and policy research
    • Preservation/restoration
  • Communications Media
  • Publishing
    • Book Editor
    • Magazine Editor
  • Organizations that Apply Historians' Skills
    • Management (general)
    • Advertising
    • Archival and record-keeping services
    • Banking & investment services
    • Insurance
    • Law
    • Market research
    • Newspaper, radio & television journalism
    • Paralegal services
    • Public relations
    • Staff training
    • Travel & tourism

Public Sector

  • Archives
    • Federal, State and Municipal
  • Departments of Education
  • Department of State Foreign Service
  • Federal Agency Preservation Offices
  • Historical Offices
    • General
    • Military Services
  • Heritage/Cultural Agencies
  • Intelligence Services
  • National Park Service
  • Legislatures
    • Administrative assistants
    • Elected offices
  • Planning Agencies
  • State Historic Preservation Offices