Careers in History

Careers in History

Be a maker of futures.

Because historians understand the past and help others see the relevance of the past to the present, we can frequently see around the corner toward what is coming but still out of sight. That makes us valuable in many settings.

Students at ACURA presentation

History majors learn the skills of leaders, and they prosper because they can write, speak, lead, analyze, and solve problems.  Those top echelon skills take history majors to C-suites in many industries.

Image: Penn State

Okay, you say, it sounds fun and exciting, but how practical is it, really, if I want to make a good living? The numbers don’t lie … A study of salaries from the 2010 census found that History majors can earn $62,000, while for business majors the figure was $61,000!

That’s you, the undergraduate history major, not someone with lots of additional graduate education. You might be surprised to learn that when Payscale.com ranked 129 majors by salary in2014, history majors claiming an average of $71,000/year, tied with business majors. Psychology was 15 places behind history, with Criminal Justice 23 spaces further down. See the details yourself (and amaze your friends), at "Majors that pay you back," Payscale.com.

Some of us teach, some of us write. Some of us guide corporations and foundations. Some of us work in policy settings, helping communities avoid making the same mistakes over and over. Some of us are environmentalists, others lawyers, others entrepreneurs. Some of us are artisans, preserving old buildings. As bankers, organizers, architects, real estate brokers, and politicians, some of us work preserving Main Streets and rebuilding local economies from sea to shining sea.

All of us talk to employers and potential employers about our top-notch research and problem-solving skills, how we’ve learned to see to the heart of matters, manage uncertainty, and find ways forward even in tough situations.  Because we understand how human beings respond to certain kinds of situations, we are sometimes able to see around corners to a future not yet visible.

Mostly, though, historians are deeply analytical and compassionate people.  We have great respect for the legacies of other people’s efforts, and dedication to making sure our own legacies have lasting value.  We stand ready to build working futures out of the always-uncertain materials life brings to hand.

Join us today.  Learn how, as a historian, you can become the leader your generation needs.

Contact

Andy August, Ph.D.
Program Chair, History
215-881-7584
axa24@psu.edu