Career Options for a History Major

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an archivist or history teacher. Get a quick view about degree programs, job duties and other requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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Depending on the level of degree obtained, there are many career options available for history majors. Degree specializations include subjects such as art history, library science and archaeology. Alternatively, many history majors elect to pursue a career in teaching, either at the high school or postsecondary level, or as archivists.

Essential Information

What might seem like a major with minimal career options actually offers many career paths. Holding a bachelor's degree in history can lead to an assortment of career options, such as archivist, researcher or writer. Some career options might require additional schooling or training including law, education or business. History majors typically work for major corporations, federal agencies, museums, historical societies or advocacy groups.

Career Archivist Educator
Required Education Bachelor's Degree in History Bachelor's Degree in History, Master's Degree or Ph.D.
Other Requirements Minor in Art History, Archaeology or Library Science, Internship Post-Baccalaureate Education Program, Teaching Internship
Projected Job Growth* (2014-2024) 7% 6% (high school teachers); 13% (postsecondary teachers);
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $50,250 $57,200 (high school teachers); $69,400 (postsecondary history teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Job Options

A history degree prepares the student for a career as an archivist or educator. To apply for a job as an archivist, a graduate has to decide if they want to work in a museum, government agency, corporation, or library and then tailor their education to that field. History education graduates can elect to teach at high schools, colleges or universities.


Archivists help acquire, catalog and maintain historical documents and records intended for displaying or storing in a museum or other facilities. These items can come in the form of audio, video or pictorial records, as well as paper documents. Some archivists choose to specialize in one of the specific records formats. The goal of an archivist is to preserve these original records.

They may use several formats to make copies of the records in order to aid in the preservation of the originals. Archivists should have a working knowledge of computers and other electronic devices. Archivists might work with curators, conservators and museum technicians in the attaining, cataloging and storing of artifacts.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's in history or a similar discipline is necessary to become an archivist. To become an archivist might also require additional experience or education, depending on the type of museum or institution. History majors aspiring to work in this profession should consider a minor in a relevant area of study, such as art history, archaeology or library science. Another consideration is finding an internship to gain valuable, hands-on work experience. Archivists with a master's degree can elect to become certified by the Academy of Certified Archivists.

Career Information

Archivists work for museums, government agencies, academia and private corporations. From 2014 to 2024, employment for archivists is expected to grow 7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS also indicated that archivists with experience in electronic records management might be in more demand. In May 2015, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $50,250 for archivists, with ranges between $30,430 and $86,040.


History majors can go on to teach in either secondary or postsecondary educational settings. High school teachers typically focus on one subject, such as history. Postsecondary instructors might be specialized in a particular area of history, including Roman, prehistoric or Asian history, but might teach other areas or eras of history as well.

Educational Requirements

Teaching in both high school and postsecondary school requires additional education. Those holding a bachelor's degree in history, who want to teach high school, can enroll in a post-baccalaureate teacher education program. These programs train students in teaching theories and principles, and prepare them for acquiring a teaching certificate and license.

For those enrolling in or pursuing a bachelor's degree in history, students can enter a secondary-education teaching program concurrently. Education programs require students to complete a teaching internship. Postsecondary educators usually require a minimum of a master's degree, but more commonly universities and colleges look for Ph.D. holders to maintain full-time, tenured professor status.

Career Information

According to the BLS, employment for high school teachers is projected to grow 6% from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that high school teachers made a median salary of $57,200 per year. Employment for university and college educators is predicted to grow 13% from 2014-2024.

Although, the BLS states that competition is expected to be high for full-time faculty at universities and colleges. Part-time teaching positions might be more available. Salaries for postsecondary teachers vary with rank, institution, field and geographic region.

Holding a degree in history can lead to many different careers in various industries. Archival work often takes place in museums, libraries and government agencies, while teaching jobs may be available in post-secondary institutions and/or high schools. Job growth in both these fields is expected to be steady through 2024.

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