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12 Well-Paying Jobs for History Majors

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What’s Covered:


History is a versatile major that provides a solid foundation for careers in many industries, from politics to marketing. Students should be prepared to analyze texts, write analytically, and think critically. As a result, the major equips students with practical and in-demand skills.


Here are some of the best job options for history majors, plus the top colleges for history students.


What Skills Do History Majors Learn?


A history curriculum covers numerous topics about our past, focusing on different periods and geographic regions across the globe. Often, majors must concentrate on a specific period of time and/or geographic area. Additionally, students generally take courses in other humanities and social sciences topics like literature, writing, foreign languages, and political science. Many programs also require a capstone program or seminar.


A history program should equip students with skills such as:


  • Analysis
  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking/reasoning
  • Fact-checking
  • Persuasion
  • Problem-solving
  • Research
  • Writing


These skills can apply to many different careers. We’ll explore the most popular choices for history majors below, but generally speaking, you’ll be prepared to thrive in a wide variety of areas, including education/academia, media, and sales and marketing.


Earning Potential for History Majors


The average nationwide annual salary for history majors is $59,731, according to ZipRecruiter, with a 25th-75th percentile range of $35,500-$70,000. Top earners can reach the six-figure salary marker.


Keep in mind that salaries for graduates of any major can vary significantly due to factors like location, skills and competencies, expertise, level of education completed, and others. ZipRecruiter reports that San Mateo, CA; Boston, MA; and Santa Monica, CA have the highest average salaries for history majors. Remember, too, that if you earn a graduate degree beyond a bachelor’s in history, you can usually increase your earning potential. Some of the top jobs for history majors require graduate degrees.


Top High-Paying Jobs for History Majors


We’ve rounded up some of the highest-paying and most suitable jobs for history majors. Some require advanced degrees, while others need only a bachelor’s degree. Projected growth and median salary data are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


1. Attorney

Education Required: Juris doctorate (JD)

Projected Growth: 4%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $122,960 (<$59,670/>$208,000)


You’ll see many history majors go on to law school and ultimately become practicing attorneys, once they’ve passed the bar in the state where they wish to practice. That’s because understanding the law and legal system also requires a deep knowledge of history, including previous court cases and context. No matter how our country evolves, lawyers in many different niches will always be in high demand.


2. Political Scientist

Education Required: Master’s degree

Projected Growth: 6%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $122,220 (<$60,960/>$164,210)


You hear more about political scientists during election seasons, but they always have an important role, studying and analyzing political systems. They conduct research on the government, trends, ideas, and more. History majors will thrive in this career thanks to their strong research skills and understanding of the background of politics and governments.


3. Marketing Manager

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 6%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $135,900 (<$71,010/>$208,000)


Unlike the previous two roles, becoming a marketing manager doesn’t usually require a degree beyond a bachelor’s. Still, this job has a high earning potential, variable, of course, by industry, experience, and specific company. 


Marketing specialists work closely with sales representatives and publicists to bring awareness to their business and products. They devise and implement strategies for promotional and advertising efforts. The career demands communication and research skills, among others, making it a good choice for history majors.

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Other Jobs for History Majors


There are, of course, many jobs for which history majors are well-suited. Examples include:


4. Anthropologist

Education Required: Master’s degree

Projected Growth: 5%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $63,670 (<$39,460; >$97,950)


Anthropologists study people and cultures — their languages, their development, their origins, their connections, their behaviors, and more. This is a field where history is highly applicable since it examines humans’ past and how it affects and shapes their present and future.


5. Archivist

Education Required: Master’s degree (a bachelor’s degree will suffice in some cases)

Projected Growth: 11%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $53,950 (<$28,330; >$87,760)


A deep knowledge of history is pivotal to being a successful archivist. In this role, you’ll acquire, preserve, and share collections of materials and documents from the past, from rare manuscripts to photographs to films.


6. Curator

Education Required: Master’s degree

Projected Growth: 11%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $54,570 (<$28,330; >$87,760)


Usually working in museums or cultural institutions, curators or museum curators manage, assemble, and find ways of presenting collections of artwork and other artifacts. They’re responsible for finding ways to educate visitors on the collections, including their origins and meaning.


7. Editor

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -7%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $61,370 (<$32,620/>$122,280)


Editors must have strong attention to detail and exemplary writing and communication skills — which you’ll certainly hone as a history major. Editors can work on a variety of media, such as books, articles, blogs, websites, and many others.


8. Journalist

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: -11%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $46,270 (<$24,520/>$117,170)


Research and communication skills are crucial for a career in journalism. With a background in history, you’ll be well-equipped to report on news and goings-on in a particular niche or more broadly.


9. Market Research Analyst

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 18%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $63,790 (<$34,350/>$122,630)


Of course, research is a must-have skill for this job. It’s central to your role no matter what your niche — whether it’s in the sciences, humanities, or another field. Your job is to help businesses identify audiences and assess their needs for different products or services.


10. Politician

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree (usually)

Projected Growth: N/A

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): N/A (varies significantly by position and office)


A job that needs no introduction, a politician runs for office to represent constitutions at the community, district, county, city, state, or national level. You’ll need to have an extensive knowledge of the government and its inner-workings to be successful in your role and win election.


11. Public Relations Manager

Education Required: Bachelor’s degree

Projected Growth: 9%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $116,180 (<$64,790/> $208,000)


In order to represent the interests of a company or individual client, a PR manager will need to be an excellent communicator (both written and oral). You’ll be tasked with crafting your client’s public image and working with the press to ensure that your brand gets positive attention.


12. Professor

Education Required: Master’s degree or doctorate (depending on the institution)

Projected Growth: 9%

Median Salary (lowest 10%/highest 10%): $79,540 (<$40,480/>$174,960)


Some history majors continue to study the subject through graduate school and go on to teach college students about their niche. Depending on where you work, you may also conduct research (this varies by experience and institution).


What Colleges Are Best for History Majors?


According to CollegeVine’s research, the top 10 colleges and universities for history majors are:


  1. Amherst College
  2. Princeton University
  3. Williams College
  4. Swarthmore College
  5. Yale University
  6. Harvard University
  7. University of Chicago
  8. Wellesley College
  9. Northwestern University
  10. Pomona College


These are some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country (and the world), so don’t be concerned if they’re reaches for you; they are for nearly every student, no matter how competitive a candidate they are. 


That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, though — we advise applying to 8-12 schools, with around 35% of them being reaches. Use our free chancing engine to find out how you compare with admitted students at these and other colleges with top history programs. We’ll also give you tips on how to improve your profile to increase your odds of admission.


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.