Careers in History

History, like other subjects in the humanities and social sciences, does not train you for any specific job or career unless you are planning to teach or to enter the historical profession. Therefore, many students, even if they would like to major in history, are hesitant to do so because they think that they will not be employable after college. This fear is heightened when one sees many more business and science majors than liberal arts students being interviewed by companies that recruit on campus. All that is changing.

History majors are finding genuine opportunties in the business world. In the past several years, for example, Burroughs, Proctor and Gamble, IBM, CBT, Case (exporters of tractors and agricultural machinery), Research Publications, Miles Pharmaceutical, Hartford Insurance Group, and the law firm Bromberg and Appleton, among others, have hired our majors. United Technologies and Aetna have provided internships to the Department of History's Master of Arts in Archival Management training program--a new and rapidly developing employment field. Our graduates tell us over and over that once employers realize that young historians are able to read intelligently, think through a problem, and present a clear analysis of it in writing, their rise is very fast indeed. Their skills often take them far beyond those whose training is more specific but often more limited.

Numerous opportunites for historians also exist outside the teaching or business professions. State and local historical societies especially need people with training in American history. Many federal, state, and local agencies need historians to be archivists, to evaluate the historical value of buildings, sites, and artifacts that their operations will affect, and to edit history-related publications. If you are interested in learning more about careers in history, please consult the American Historical Association's booklet, Careers for Students of History.

History is, of course, an excellent major if you are planning to enter a professional school of one kind or another. Law, medical, dental, theological, journalism and even business schools have always had a high number of history majors among their students.

If professional school is not your goal, many opportunites for employment exist in all levels of government--federal, state and local. The State Department, the Departments of Transportation, Health and Welfare, Commerce, Education, and Interior, and numerous other federal agencies, for example, need people with the kind of background and skills that training in history provides. History majors are also well-suited for staff positions in federal, state and local legislative bodies or on the personal staffs of officials. The Department of History encourages its majors to take advantage of internships in order to become acquainted with public-sector agencies.