Career Alternatives for Humanities Majors

There are many career alternatives for humanities majors, and plenty of them are discussed in this article. Areas of employment include anthropology, art history, and publishing. Schools offering Interdisciplinary Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Studying and Working

Career Alternatives for Humanities Majors

People say that a degree in the humanities can only lead to a career in academia. The truth is, liberal arts skills are desirable everywhere in the job market and there are many careers out there that can put your specialized training to use. Read on to discover job opportunities for anthropology, art history, English, classics, or any other humanities majors.

All Humanities

A liberal arts education confers certain basic skills regardless of your major, such as analysis, critical thinking and clear writing. You can apply these skills to any of the careers below, using your discipline-specific training to market yourself as a specialist.

Consulting

Consultants are essentially people who are paid to answer questions. Have an art history degree? Offer your services to collectors who don't know what to purchase. Study political science? Look for a political or economics consulting job. Study English? Work with aspiring writers. With a little entrepreneurship and business savvy, you can embark on this path with just a bachelor's degree. However, an advanced degree might be necessary in order to compete for think-tank jobs and other advanced consulting gigs.

Freelance Writing

Whether you're interested in art criticism, freelance journalism, political commentary, food criticism, travel writing, etc., chances are there's a publication out there for you. Make sure to look for blogs and other (paying) online publications as well as newspapers, magazines and print journals. It can help to contribute for free to a local publication in your area of interest in order to build your resume before you start competing for paying gigs.

Librarianship

Many humanities majors go on to become university librarians specializing in their original disciplines. For example, a historian might become a history librarian. A master's degree in your field is typically required for this career. Individuals who are more interested in being a generalist can pursue a master's degree in library science or library and information studies.

Excavation

Anthropology

As with most humanities disciplines, teaching anthropology will probably require a PhD. People who want to become field anthropologists and publish their research will also need a doctoral degree.

Archeology

Lead archeologists must have graduate training in anthropology or archeology. But there are lots of supporting positions that only require a bachelor's degree. Archeological field technicians assist archeologists in the field with digging, lab analysis and other excavation tasks. Assistant archeologists help with tasks such as drawing and photographing artifacts and preparing maps. They may also help evaluate environmental impacts of digs and other projects for state and national parks. Archeology / Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technicians prepare maps and graphics for cultural resource reports, presentations and other documents.

Cultural Resource Management

Use your understanding of human cultures to help manage cultural heritage resources such as ancient settlements, historic structures and shipwrecks. Duties may include conducting inventories, documenting resources and providing evaluations and assessments for preservation and protection. Resources managers working for public agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service or National Park Service may also manage public access.

Human Services

Human services agencies often hire people with anthropology backgrounds to help them evaluate the effectiveness of their organization and justify its role to potential funding agencies. This is typically a research position that also provides information and statistics to agency workers in the field.

Preservation and Restoration

If you have some artistic or technical skills, you may be able to put your anthropology training to work preserving and restoring cultural artifacts. You can find this work in museums and private agencies that specialize in restoration. A certificate in the field may be required.

Ancient Greek Art in Underground Tunnel

Art History

Curator and professor are probably the two most popular career goals for art historians. Both require at least a master's degree, and usually a PhD. But not every art history major wants to work in a museum or the academy.

Antiques Dealing

Put your research skills and ability to analyze objects to work selling antiques. Many dealers get their start in the family business or as collectors, but you can also gain experience interning in an auction house. A bachelor's degree and a good head for business are all you need for this career.

Appraising

Collectors and estates rely on specialists to appraise the authenticity and value of precious objects. A background in art history is the perfect preparation for this career. Several universities offer certificates in appraisal studies, which typically require you to already have a bachelor's degree. You'll also need strong research skills and exceptional ethics.

Art Sales

Art galleries and auction houses like to hire art historians. Small art galleries typically only require a bachelor's degree and strong communication skills. An advanced degree and foreign language skills can be useful for careers in large international auction houses.

Artist Representation

Chances are you met quite a few studio artists during your studies. If you've got a head for business and public relations, you can help them and carve out a career for yourself. Artist representatives market artists to galleries, publications and other venues in exchange for commission. A bachelor's is the highest degree required for this field.

Nonprofits

Community art centers and government organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) like to hire people with arts backgrounds. You'll typically start with administrative work, but can quickly advance to more responsibilities, although nonprofit work does require the willingness to do it for the love, not the money. A graduate degree may be necessary to climb the ladder in some organizations, but a bachelor's degree will almost always get you in the door.

Reading and Writing Library

English

If you want to be an English professor, there's no getting around that PhD. As a professor, you'll get to put those fine-tuned writing and communications skills to good use. With a master's degree, you may be able to find employment at a community college or technical school.

Book Publicity or Writer Representation

These are two separate but related careers that require marketing and networking skills as well as an understanding of creative writing. A writer representative helps writers secure publishers and promote themselves and their various projects. A book publicist focuses only on a specific book project, securing interviews and other press for authors who are promoting their new books.

Business and Technical Writing

Again, these are separate but related careers, both of which are ideal for English majors who love to write but have yet to have their first bestselling novel. Business writers are typically employed by companies to complete both external and internal communications. These may include press releases, brochures, employee newsletters, annual or quarterly reports, policy manuals, etc. Technical writers may work in the science or technology industries, and must have a good understanding of the field they work in as well as strong writing skills. They explain scientific or technical terms in clear language for instruction manuals, grant proposals, web content and other documents.

Editing

Put those long nights you spent revising papers to use! Editorial skills can get you into many industries. Whether it's copy editing for a newspaper, book editing for a publisher or article editing (or fact checking) for a magazine, all you need is a bachelor's in English and a way with words.

Ghostwriting

Offer your writing services to experts, celebrities and other people who want to publish a book about their life or expertise but lack writing ability.

Grant Writing

Grants are so important to the health of nonprofits that they will hire professional grant writers. This is a great field to go into if you're interested in nonprofit work but would like something more challenging than administrative work.

Publishing

There's a variety of publishing careers available to English majors. You can work as an in-house editor for a publishing company. Some book publicists (see job description above) work for publishing houses rather than as independent contractors. If you're hyper-organized, you may want to work as a book packager, organizing and compiling whole book projects. Duties vary widely and may include managing editing, copyright permissions research, finding cover art, writing proposals, planning production schedules and overseeing timely completion of the book.

Guided Tour

History & Classics

The ancient Greek philosophers can teach you almost everything you need to know about the world... except how to get a job. If you want to work as a history or classics professor, or curator in a history museum, you'll need to follow that academic PhD track.

Cultural Tour Guide

Make history come alive for tourists, school field trips and other curious parties. If you specialized in foreign history, this can be a great way to work abroad! Guides may work freelance or for tour companies.

Genealogical Services

Help people discover their heritage by researching genealogy and family and community histories. For some historians, this can lead to publishing. For others, it can lead to working freelance or for genealogical firms marketing family research services.

Historical Research

There are a variety of research-related positions available to historians in nonprofits and governments agencies. Historical research assistants perform historical analyses and prepare reports for bosses as diverse as museum curators and government officials. Projects coordinators oversee heritage-related projects. Their duties include research, editing, writing and media presentations. Institutional researchers help organizations develop an institutional and policy history. They research trends, edit records and manage archives.

Park Ranger

Park rangers don't just work in forests. Historians can work as park rangers for historic national parks and other national monuments. These park rangers help preserve landmarks and educate the public.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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