The latest Perspectives on History, the magazine of the American Historical Association, published a very good article using an extensive household survey to see where History majors stand in occupational map. It is titled “History is not a useless major: fighting myths with data.” (Open here.) While it is meant for an audience of history professionals it has relevance to students. It is based on the American Community Survey, a dataset collected periodically with more than three million participants and that is the gold standard of socioeconomic and demographic information. Using the major reported by the respondents, this study shows that history majors are doing very well in the job market. They have a low unemployment rate, they tend to work in many walks of life, and they earn good money. The secret to the good career paths of History majors have a very broad arch of career options. Careers with a higher remuneration involve graduate school, which is a strength of History majors.
This information is consistent with other evidence. The Hamilton Project’s compiled salary evidence from student loan repayments and reports them in its “Careers Earnings by College Major” page (open here). History majors make as much as other college majors, even a little more than typically career- and business-oriented degrees. Our own study of the alums of the BGSU history major, shown in our webpage, also indicate that the career paths are quite varied. Business, government and law are our main careers. (In BGSU, teacher education is in the College of Education’s Integrated Social Studies major.) Our alums most commonly refer to their occupation as analyst, specialist, researcher or manager, among a large variety of job descriptions.
One may say that the take-away for those interested in doing a history major is that it pays off to study what you are passionate about. Studying for the love of knowledge will pay your bills, and also make you a wiser and more empathetic human being.