A History major provides excellent preparation for an unusually wide range of careers. Instead of asking “What can I do with a History major?” it is probably better to ask “What can’t I do with a History major?” History majors go on to rewarding jobs in the following fields, among others:
- Sales and Marketing
- Business Analytics
- Medicine and Public Health
- Non-Profits (Policy, Activism)
- Government and Foreign Service
- Art and Design
- Historical Societies
- Historical Research
The variety of career and graduate educational paths open to History majors is the result of the fact that History has always provided one of the most adaptable sets of skills and habits available to college students. This adaptability is only becoming more important these days. Because of the fast pace of technological change, the education students get in seemingly more practical majors often becomes obsolete in just a few years. The skills that History majors acquire never become outdated.
This adaptability helps explain why humanities and social science majors have equal or better long-term salary prospects than both STEM majors and business majors. Even starting salaries are normally comparable, and unemployment after graduation is unusually low. The commonplace claim that History and other humanities and social science majors are risky bets in employment terms is simply false. And among the other liberal arts, history majors earn higher salaries than all other humanities majors.
If all this is true, what could possibly be the point of pursuing a major you don’t enjoy? In any case, to some extent these financial calculations completely miss the point. A college education is about much more than gainful employment after graduation. It is about intellectual excitement and the cultivation of a baseline of knowledge and thought patterns that will set up you for a lifetime of learning and a lifetime of positive, responsible contributions to society as a private individual and as a citizen.
There are misconceptions out there about History on this front as well. History is not about the memorization of facts and trivia. While exploring diverse points of view, it teaches you how to collect, evaluate, and arrange sources into persuasive arguments and narratives. The study of history is unique because it combines the science of finding, analyzing, and arranging documents with the art of creative writing, eloquent argument, and storytelling. It teaches non-programmable skills like cultural awareness, advocacy, problem-solving, and understanding a whole new world of references and jokes. For more information on the skills acquired by History majors at Lehigh, see here.