Potential Career Paths
The Historian as Teacher
Many history majors join the ranks of the nation’s educators, whether at the college or pre-collegiate levels. These historians have answered the call to teach about the past, to pass on what they have learned, while, at the same, continuing their own studies of the past.
Career paths in the teaching of history vary according to which level of education one chooses to teach, from primary and secondary education to higher education. Pre-collegiate teaching is also separated between the education offered in private schools and public school systems that are supported and regulated by a system of state laws and statewide educational goals. Public school teaching requires the acquisition and maintenance of state teaching licenses, while such requirements are not required by all private academies.
Those history majors who wish to pursue a career as a college professor continue their education at the graduate level, where they specialize in their chosen fields and produce their own significant research, while apprenticing as a teaching assistant. Although a Masters of Arts in history can qualify one for a teaching position at a two-year community college, a Ph.D. is considered essential to finding employment at the four-year college or university level.
The Historian as Journalist and Editor
Students of history may find employment in a wide variety of writing and publishing related fields. Many history majors have gone onto careers in journalism, where they use their research and writing skills, while others choose career paths in the publishing industry, working as editors. From university presses that publish scholarly monographs to textbook and trade houses, to magazines, journals, and other on-line publications, as well as in the offices of professional associations, museums, and government agencies, historians are putting their writing and editing skills to work.
The Historian as Preservationist
Historic preservation is another rewarding career field for history majors. Once focused primarily on saving the homes of prominent Americans, preservationists are now found in architectural firms, city planning offices, economic development agencies, historic parks, and construction companies, as well as in their own specialized consulting firms. The preservationist, wherever he or she works, appreciates the built environment and is committed to saving these valuable resources for future generations.
The goal of historic preservation at any level is the identification, evaluation, physical preservation, and interpretation of historically and culturally significant sites. Historic preservationists play a key role in interpreting historic structures for the public through museum exhibit design, pamphlet publication, oral histories, and documentary film productions. The field as it has developed has drawn from a wide scope of professional skills and knowledge. A properly trained historian, however, is able to contribute to any of these elements of preservation. Students interested in a career in historic preservation may improve their career advancement through further specialized graduate studies in their field of choice.