Majors in History: A Review
When students enter college, one of the first decisions they face is which major to choose. Students often wonder which career paths will enable them to fit well in the job market and the global economy. As a student, your choice for your Bachelor’s degree will most likely inform your master’s degree choice.
History is one of the many courses students study in college, even though some still wonder how it’s applicable in the job market. If you’re a student and wondering whether holding a history major is still relevant, this is for you.
What Does Studying History Entail?
When you choose to study history as a student, you’re not just learning from textbooks and research papers. You’ll be doing a lot of research and digging. The courses usually ask students to read up on primary sources, which they could use as evidence in their papers. Students also learn about research methods and analysis. They study the skills needed to be a historian.
You’ll also learn the art of explanation- historians must be able to write and present their work in a way that’s clear and easy to understand. Historians must be able to convert extensive research into simple concepts that the general public would understand. This skill combination is what makes history a valuable course in today’s world.
History offers students a wide array of life and job skills applicable as they study and in the job market. If you decide to further education and enroll in a history major course, the benefits are innumerable.
Skills Acquired from History Majors
Some of the essential skills you’ll acquire during your history major study are Critical thinking, analytical skills, organizational skills, research skills, communication skills, writing skills, and problem-solving skills.
Historians are constantly looking at the big picture. They look into all the minute details that contribute to an event or situation. Historians also need to make sense of the aftermath and draw conclusions. This skill is essential in business, politics, law, medicine, engineering, communication, and many other careers.
Studying history requires that you look into details. You’ll need to evaluate evidence, read primary sources, and interpret them correctly. In short, studying history requires you to be systematic and patient. These are skills that many employers love as they can use in problem-solving and making informed decisions.
Since you’re going to work with a lot of evidence in your history study, you must have excellent organizational skills. You need to know how to manage your time, data, and resources.
History graduates are known for having strong research skills. They can look through a large volume of historical data and use it to draw conclusions and make sense of the past.
They also need to evaluate sources and ensure that they get reliable and relevant information. These skills are essential in archaeology, journalism, market research, foreign policy, and even anthropology.
Having great communication skills is essential no matter what career you choose. In the field of history, it is even more imperative as there are a lot of papers to write, and papers require clear and concise communication. Employers look for candidates who are strong communicators since such skills are helpful in training and writing.
Whenever you study history, you’ll need to write a lot of research papers. This means that you need to have excellent writing skills. Sometimes you’ll be required to present your work to the class or even publish your paper for a wider audience. By the time you’re done with your history course, your writing will be top-notch, enabling you to fit in many other careers.
Studying history requires you to think. Historical facts are not always clear; thus, the historian must do thorough research and draw logical conclusions. In the real world, you’ll find many challenges that need solutions. These problem-solving skills are fundamental in business, politics, engineering, and even medicine.
What are the Different History Major Courses?
There are many different history majors in schools around the world. Here’s a list of some of the most popular ones:
- Social history. This is a history major where the focus is on the study of people. It includes studying social institutions, cultural norms, and behaviors.
- Public history. It is a type of history major focused on studying history and sharing it with a broader audience.
- Visual culture. This is a history major where the focus is on the use of visuals in culture. It includes studying how people represent themselves in pictures, film, and other visual objects.
- Archaeology. It is an in-depth study of past society, culture, and technologies. It includes studying what people left behind in the form of ruins, artifacts, and other evidence.
- Economic history. It focuses on studying past economic systems and how they evolved. It includes studying economics, business, money, labor, production, and other related matters.
- Architectural history is the study of historical buildings, and this is an important field because many historical sites are being destroyed. This means that the number of people with this job will decrease in the future.
- World history. This is a history major that examines the history of societies in different parts of the world. It includes studying how different regions interacted, what they traded, and how they influenced one another.
- Art history is the study of art and artifacts. It’s a broader subject than history because it covers not only what happened but the artistic interpretation of these events.
- Museology is the study of museums, and museums are often big employers of history graduates.
History Majors Career Options
The skills acquired in history open students to a wealth of career opportunities that they can explore. These careers include:
Being a lawyer is one of the most popular career options for history majors. Jobs in law firms and judicial systems require a lot of critical thinking, analytical skills, and communication skills.
Those who desire to pursue a career in law can either go to law school directly or finish their history program first if they’re already started.
Most law firms hire legal assistants to do the research and fact-checking needed in cases. History majors who have excellent writing skills can get this job.
Once you have solid professional experience, you could apply for a job as a paralegal. A legal assistant and a paralegal have similar functions, but a paralegal can go beyond research and do some legal writing.
Foreign Service Officer
The skills acquired in history are beneficial to many careers in the government, including foreign service officers. This career requires a lot of detailed analysis, excellent written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills.
If you want to follow this career path, you may be required to take a liberal art major for inter-country communication. Learning a foreign language or two will be helpful in your foreign service officer career.
Archaeology and history
If you love digging through data and finding out historical facts, this job is for you! Archaeology is one of the most popular career options for history graduates.
Archaeologists look through data to help locate historical sites, uncover artifacts and build a picture of what happened in the past. They also look for things like fossils and other evidence of extinct organisms.
Museums require research, great organizational skills, and analytical skills. History graduates are perfect for this type of job as they can organize exhibits and create a flow of information.
Museum curators are responsible for the whole museum, and their duties include:
- Developing a collection plan
- Overseeing staff building exhibits
- Selecting materials with which to build exhibits
- Acquiring items for the collection- whether they’re on loan or purchased.
If your history skills are not suited for a museum curator, you can find a job as a technician. Museum technicians do research and help curators maintain exhibits.
Journalists need to research and write about past and present-day news events, so they need the right skills. This is why history graduates are good candidates for this job as they can write about events from a historical point of view.
Political science is one of the most popular majors because it’s useful in many careers. Some of these are:
- International relations
- Military leadership.
Political scientists study politics and policies from a historical perspective. This way, they can understand the root of problems in the past that led to these political issues today.
If you love sharing history with the public, this is the perfect job for you. Museum educators make exhibits accessible to people of all ages by taking on a teaching role. They also do research and writing for the museum.
To become a museum educator, you will need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or archaeology. You can then go on to get your master’s or doctoral program in museum education.
If making a difference in people’s lives is your passion, teaching may be the career for you. Picking a history major will open doors for you to teach at any level, be it high school or college.
You can further your studies and become a history professor teaching American history, among other things.
Foreign policy analyst
Foreign policy analyst is a career for those who love learning about people, places, and things that happened in the past. You’ll be working with diplomats and foreign leaders in the highest levels of government- using historical data to help them make decisions.
Archivists are responsible for organizing data and ensuring that these records are kept safe. It’s a great occupation for history graduates as it combines research, data analysis, and organization.
Libraries are wealthy historical resources, and the people who work there must be able to organize and archive data. This is why librarians need excellent organizational skills, research experience, and communication skills.
Tour guides need to be knowledgeable about the history of whatever location they’re working at. If you love sharing historical knowledge with others, this job is for you. You’ll either work in a museum or teach visitors about historic sites when they visit.
If you enjoy history and want to pass on your knowledge, you might consider becoming a historian. This career requires excellent research skills as well as the ability to visualize and dramatize events.
Professional historians need to take a lot of specialized classes. They need to learn research and writing skills, how to use the latest technology, and find information in various forms.
History graduates are good writers and some find themselves writing historical novels. These novels are set in the past and need to be historically accurate. History graduates need to be highly knowledgeable about the period they’re covering as they write.
Why History Majors?
As early as middle school, students are faced with the dilemna of what graduate programs to pursue. Some have little knowledge of what’s available and where. If you’re wondering if history can ever make it to the top of your list, below are some reasons why you should consider it:
- It’s highly applicable. History graduates are prepared for many careers. Strong research, organizational, analytical, and critical thinking skills will be helpful in whatever career path you choose.
- History is beneficial to many other professions. Many jobs require an understanding of history and historical events. For example, business managers need to understand the past and how it can affect future decisions. Government officials use historical data to make their decisions on policies and factors affecting the economy.
- It enhances critical thinking. History students are asked to question everything- what’s written, why it’s said. It challenges their thoughts and makes them learn the importance of thinking for themselves.
- There are many employment opportunities. Whether you’re looking to attend law school or medical school, history is a good major. It makes you more of a well-rounded candidate and allows for a wide range of opportunities after graduation.
- Minimal to no numbers. If you’re not a fan of numbers, then history majors are for you. Several options will give you an exciting career journey without having to deal with numbers.
- It’s an interdisciplinary major. History majors can choose to take electives in other fields, including the humanities, social sciences, and more. This makes it easy to pursue other careers you’re interested in, even if you’ve graduated with a history degree.
History offers a wide range of benefits to students. It is an excellent course for students who want to pursue a career in history, eventually, become history teachers.
After getting their history degrees, some students further their studies in law school and other related fields. There is no limit to the number of careers you can pursue with history majors.
History graduates are well-rounded individuals, and the skills they acquire throughout their degree will be beneficial in their future careers.
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