Career Preparation

Employment surveys and studies clearly demonstrate that employers value college-educated workers who know how to think critically, who have excellent oral and written communication skills, and who can solve complex problems and apply their knowledge to real-world situations. They also value people who demonstrate sound ethical judgment and robust intercultural skills (Hart Research Associates, It Takes More Than A Major, April 2013). A History major at the University of St. Thomas can help you develop these important skills and dispositions for a successful career.

For those who want to teach history in high school or college, a history major is an obvious choice. But what if you don't want to teach? A history major can be an important first step to a career as a museum exhibit specialist, a historical society researcher, a cultural resources manager, a historical documentary editor or producer, an archivist, a curator, a librarian, a public records manager, a lawyer or paralegal, a legislative staffer, a foreign service officer, or a public policy researcher, to name just a few.

Our Career Preparation page has three tabs. The first contains information from the American Historical Association and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about history-related careers. The second contains articles and studies that address the benefits of a liberal arts degree. The third tab provides some thoughts about why people study history.

Oh, the Places You'll Go with a History Major!

Resources from the American Historical Association

The American Historical Association (AHA) website has two excellent resources for students who want general information about history-related careers.

The first is for students who graduate with an undergraduate history major and want to go directly into the work world:  http://www.historians.org/pubs/Free/careers/Index.htm.

The second is for students who intend to pursue graduate studies in history in order to engage in more specialized history-related careers: http://www.historians.org/pubs/careers/index.htm

Additionally, the AHA is in the process of collecting resources that will help you think about a wide range of history-related careers beyond classroom teaching. Check out their “Career Diversity” webpage at https://www.historians.org/jobs-and-professional-development/career-diversity-for-historians/career-diversity-resources.

If you would like to hear historians in various non-traditional careers talk about their work, go to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtafkoYGge2LRZjZWyB2oR2c7Jf_T-MJ7.

Of course, one of the first steps to getting a good job is knowing how to market yourself to attract the attention of employers in your desired career field. To get started, you may want to read "Entering the job market with a BA in History" by Loren Collins.

Finally, you might want to view "The Earnings Potential of History Majors" as reported in Perspectives on History, December 2014.

Resources linked to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A History major can take you into a wide variety of careers if you are willing to engage your entrepreneurial spirit. Fortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics has created a rather comprehensive Occupation Finder, which describes the kind of education needed for particular jobs, the projected number and growth rate of new jobs in that area, and the median pay for those jobs.

For information about career preparation and job prospects in history-related careers, click on any of the following categories from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

archArcheologist

high school profHigh School History Teacher

archivistArchivist

lawyer‌Lawyer

college profCollege/University History Professor

librarianLibrarian

curatorCurator

museum technicianMuseum technician

editorEditor paralegalParalegal/ legal assistant
film editorFilm and Video Editor reporterReporter or Correspondent 

However, not all history-related careers are included in the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ website. Here are just two examples of interesting careers that you will not find on their site:

Hopefully, these resources will spur your imagination and give you some ideas about the kinds of careers that are available to you. Your history major can open doors to a rich and fulfilling career!

Benefits of a Liberal Arts Degree

In choosing a college major, students often worry that they will not get a good job and financial security unless they pursue a professional or career-oriented major like business or engineering. However, a number of recent studies indicate that a liberal arts degree like history, political science, English or psychology can lead to a rich and fulfilling career that is profitable, as well. Here are a few examples: 

Anders, George. “That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket.” Forbes, 17 August 2015.

Bray, Chad. “Carlyle Co-founders Formula for Success Study the Humanities.” New York Times, 23 January 2014.

Grasgreen, Allie. “Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term,” Inside Higher Ed, 22 January 2014.

Liberal Arts Degrees and Their Value in the Employment Market.” Association of American Colleges & Universities. http://www.aacu.org/nchems-report.

Lindner, Steven. “Even in the Age of STEM, Employers Still Value Liberal Arts Degrees.” New York Daily News, 4 April 2016.

McNutt, McNutt. “There is Value in Liberal Arts Education, Employers Say.” US News, 22 September 2014.

Peden, Wilson. “Why Critics are Wrong about Liberal Arts Degrees, “ Fortune, 13 November 2015.

Salary Increase by Major,” The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html.

The Rising Cost of Not Going To College.” Pew Research Center, 11 February 2014. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college

Why Study History

Wherever you travel in today’s world, you will find people who are attracted to the study of History, because History helps us to understand who we are and what is our place in the world.

History explores the relationship between two universal aspects of our human experience: time and culture. Time shapes everything we do and think about; culture influences our thoughts and actions in subtle, sometimes unrecognizable ways. Cultures exist within societies that are made up of a complex combination of political and economic institutions, social norms and practices, and systems of knowledge and beliefs that a society creates in order to survive and flourish.

Because History is the study of culture in time, it is one of the most interdisciplinary fields of study in any college or university. It is about how politics, economics, science, art, literature, philosophy, and religion have been woven together over time to create the cultures that make up today’s world. History helps us understand why societies developed as they did and what influences shape their present and future.

Two essays posted on the American Historical Association website provide some thoughtful reflections on the importance of studying history as part of a liberal arts education and as preparation for a variety of careers. The first one entitled “Why Study History?” was written by Peter N. Stearns. The second, also called “Why Study History,” was written by William H. McNeill. Another interesting article called “All People Are Living Histories—Which is Why History Matters” by Penelope Corfield.

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, a History major will give you important content for understanding the world in which we live. It will also help you acquire the critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills necessary for professional and personal success. To further diversify your education, you can pair your History major with courses in Political Science, International Studies, Geography, English, Catholic Studies, Communication and Journalism, American Culture and Difference, Justice and Peace Studies, Women’s Studies, and even Philosophy or Theology.

History majors may also participate in the Renaissance Program Professional Minor. When you graduate, if you discover that you need further professional education, you can take additional undergraduate Business courses for free.

With today's computers and smart phones, historical information is available at the click of a button. Do students really need to study history anymore?

Why study the history of the Middle East or any other part of the world? Students might say these faraway places don’t really affect them?