History Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in the field of history. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering American History degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Do With a Major in History?

As a history major, a number of career options are available to you, since history degrees are among the most versatile. Three possible career options in the field of history are teacher, museum curator, and museum technician. History and social studies teachers educate students on different aspects of history, sometimes specializing in certain eras or countries. Museum curators direct the display of historical artifacts in museums, authenticating new pieces they get and preserving everything to the best of their ability to aid patrons in learning about the past. Museum technicians assist curators by preparing the artifacts museums receive, as well as guiding visitors through the museum and answering questions about displays.

The table below outlines the general requirements for these career options.

TeacherCuratorMuseum Technician
Degree RequiredBachelor's degreeMaster's degree; some employers prefer a doctoral degreeBachelor's degree
Educational Field of StudyHistory
Education
History
Art
Art History
Archaeology
Art History
History
Archaeology
Licensure or CertificationRequired to teach in public schools N/AN/A
Key Responsibilities Plans lessons in history; evaluates students' abilities; grades assignments; prepares students for standardized tests Appraises and authenticates historical documents and artifacts; preserves documents and artifacts; acquires new materials; sets policy guidelines; organizes recordsAids curators with preparing museum items; answers questions from the public; helps scholars use museum collections
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for high school teachers*7% for archivists, curators, and museum workers*5% for museum technicians and conservators*
Average Salary (2015)$60,440 for secondary school teachers*$56,990 for curators*$44,880 for museum technicians and conservators*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What History Programs are Available?

Many online and brick-and-mortar institutions offer bachelor's degrees in history. History degrees are among the most versatile degrees available. Once you have decided upon history as your major, you can often choose a specialization area, such as American history, European history, and African American history, among others.

In a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program, you may take courses on early civilizations, American history, geography, ancient history, Egyptology, archaeology, and medieval Europe. Many history programs that don't offer formal concentrations still offer electives through which you can customize the program based on your interests.

What Careers Can I Consider?

A number of options are available to you once you've received your history degree. One option would be to teach social studies or history, which is usually done at the middle and high school levels. All states require a bachelor's degree if you want to teach history in a public school. Additionally, you'll need to complete a teacher certification program and apply for licensure.

Another option would be to work in a museum, where you can gain employment as a museum technician. As a museum technician, you'll have the opportunity to work with fossils and artifacts by storing, numbering, and arranging them in exhibits.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree may earn you the position of curator in a small museum (www.bls.gov). However, curators generally need to possess a number of skills, due to the added responsibilities. Business skills are required, so you should consider a minor in business management. You may also consider a job as a research assistant, working with curators, archeologists, anthropologists, writers, and historians.

What Salary Can I Earn?

Since your career options can vary significantly after completing a history major, so can your potential salary. As of May 2015, museum technicians made an average of $44,880, while curators earned an average of $56,990, according to the BLS. It should be noted, though, that this figure includes curators with advanced degrees. The areas in which museum technicians earned the highest salaries as of May 2015 are the District of Columbia, California, New York, Illinois, and Connecticut. High school teachers made a yearly average of $60,440.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Librarians have a similar job to curators and museum staff, collecting and preserving books and presenting them to the public freely. Most library jobs require a master's degree. Instead of becoming a history teacher, you could pursue a career as a teaching assistant, reinforcing lessons taught by teachers and working with students in more personalized means, such as in small groups. To do this, you will only need an associate's degree or the equivalent education, and likely do not need a teaching license.

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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