It’s commonly known that history is a challenging academic subject, and careers in history can be very competitive. The good news is that employers see a lot of value in history graduates, because of the wealth of skills learnt throughout their studies. Things like critical reasoning, research and analytical thinking are all transferrable skills that can be beneficial in any career.
Take a look at the types of careers on offer to people interested in becoming a historian, as well as the skills and qualifications needed for a job related to history.
- Why work in history?
- What careers are available in history?
- What skills are needed to work in history?
- What degrees help with a career in history?
Why work in history?
Work across a diverse range of topics
Historians can work across an extremely diverse range of topics throughout their careers, from art history to particular time periods or geographical locations. Some historians choose to specialise in a specific area and gain extensive knowledge of an area.
You will be learning transferrable skills
Studying history teaches you skills that are valuable to any employer, the same applies to historians with practical work experience. There will be many avenues available to you since critical thinking, writing skills, organisation and communication are all skills that will hold you in good stead when it comes to applying for roles.
Pursue your interests
If you’re thinking about a career in history, you probably have an avid interest in the subject. As a historian, you’ll have the opportunity to pursue your interests by delving deeper into something you’re passionate about. You will be learning new things every day and be able to share your results with others.
What careers are available in history?
While jobs that are directly related to a history degree are limited, there are a wide variety of careers related to history and where a knowledge of history would be useful.
Jobs directly related to a history degree:
History teacher or lecturer
If learning and teaching others history interests you, then consider becoming a history teacher at GCSE or A Level. Or you could teach history at a higher level, as a university lecturer. You can find more information about careers in education in our article.
Historical academic researchers, or history researchers, rely on their intellectual curiosity and analytical skills to discover new information and share their findings with the world. Find out more about careers in academic research by reading our article.
Archivists care for and preserve collections of historical records and documents. Archivists can work in a variety of settings, from libraries to national archives and museums, businesses or charities.
Conservation officers work to protect and improve areas of environmental or historical importance. They do this through managing conservation work, attracting publicity and conducting scientific monitoring of the site.
Jobs in a museum or gallery
Many history enthusiasts find work in museums or galleries. While some roles are hard to secure, volunteering in your spare time can help you land a permanent paid role faster. Some roles in museums or galleries where a knowledge of history would be useful include:
- Museum or gallery education officer
- Museum or gallery curator
- Tour guide
Jobs where a history degree might be useful:
Archaeologists discover new things about the past by studying and excavating sites, classifying, recording and preserving objects. Archaeologists usually work for private companies, universities or museums.
Journalists gather information in the form of text, audio or visual. They process the information and turn it into the news. They can work on a freelance basis, or for newspapers, magazines, or news websites. Journalists are also the people who prepare news to be broadcast on television and radio.
Work in the civil service sector
Many historians opt to work in the public sector due to the stability of this kind of work. Some of the most popular civil service roles include:
- Administrative assistant
- Office manager
- HR manager
Marketing specialists are responsible for growing an audience. They do this by creating marketing strategies, advertising campaigns and finding ways to target their audiences. You can find out more information about careers in marketing in our article.
Policy or compliance roles
People who work in policy or compliance are typically those responsible for developing procedures, guidelines or internal policies. They also deal with any violations of these policies and guidelines.
Solicitors provide specialist legal advice in different areas of the law. They usually represent a client and will work to defend the client’s legal interests. You can find out more information about careers in law by reading our article.
What skills are needed to work in history?
The broad nature of roles related to history means that different jobs require specific knowledge, but there are some skills that would benefit you in any history related role:
- Analytical and problem solving – you will need these for processing and analysing vast amounts of information.
- Time management – whether it’s hitting deadlines for a task or keeping time on an archaeological dig, time management skills will come in handy.
- Project management – it’s beneficial in any role to be able to keep track of projects.
- Creativity and curiosity – history is about working on theories and discovering new things about the past.
- Communication – for many of the career choices related to history, you will be expected to have great written and oral communication skills.
- Collaborative – working within a team, sharing your findings and being a supportive colleague is a big part of any career in history.
If you are looking for a specific job related to history, we recommend reviewing the job description and the person specification. Take a look at the graduate skills that employers are looking for.
What degrees help with a career in history?
In order to have the best chances at securing a job related to history, you will most likely need at least an undergraduate degree in history or a history-related subject (such as classics). Some graduates go on to study a masters or PhD in the following subjects:
- Ancient history
- History of art
- History and sociology
- History with innovation
- Archaeology and history or ancient history
- History and economics
If you’re unsure of which qualifications you need, check the job descriptions of the kind of job you are hoping to do. Here you can see what level of education recruiters are looking for and make a decision about whether to go on to further study.
Last updated on 22 March 2023Share this article