It’s not uncommon for history students to spend the occasional sleepless night wondering what they’ll do for work once they graduate, or if they should have majored in history in the first place. In reality there is a wide range of entry-level jobs for history majors, even if they aren’t obvious at first.
These roles generally don’t require any additional certification, so you can apply for them right away.
Average entry-level salary: $28,000 USD
Museum educator is one of the most appropriate entry-level jobs for history majors because it makes such a direct use of subject matter knowledge. In this role you would spend time engaging with museum visitors directly on an exhibit floor, explaining and contextualizing its pieces.
Once in a while, museum educators are also known to travel locally to bring artifacts and lessons to schools or community groups. You can also find them acting as historical interpreters and tour guides at historical sites.
Note that museum educators are different from curators, who have more experience and tend to manage specific pieces within a museum. Both can interact with visitors but it’s not really the curator’s job to do so.
This is a particularly suitable job if you have a master’s degree in public history.
Average entry-level salary: $35,000 USD
Archivists aren’t in high demand, as they are generally limited to government roles. In fact, there are only about 3,000 archivists employed by the United States National Archives.
Archivists are also supported by two similar roles.
- Archives Specialists, who add specialized historical knowledge records that archivists’ general knowledge wouldn’t cover.
- Archives Technicians, who work with conservators to clean and preserve artifacts, as well as doing the legwork of locating records and artifacts in the large rooms where they are kept.
The good news is that working in the archives isn’t just for archivists, either. You can also find these roles working alongside them, too.
- Record Managers
- Photographers and digital imaging specialists
If you love the idea of preserving history and making it accessible to the public, then this might be for you.
Average entry-level salary: $30,000 USD
Becoming an editorial assistant isn’t just for English grads! This is an excellent entry-level job for history majors for many of the same reasons that English majors excel here. History is a literary discipline too, after all—you spend time writing, revising, editing, and adhering to complex publishing guidelines from the Chicago Manual of Style. This makes it one of the most common history writing jobs to pursue.
Editorial assistants also do a lot of legwork suited to historians, including the following.
- Researching new stories to pitch
- Fact-checking manuscripts for editors
- Transcribe interviews
- Write promotional articles
Entering publishing in the 21st century also means you’ll need to develop some digital publishing skills. You’ll have an easier time getting your foot in the door if you learn of these skills.
- HTML (it’s way easier than it looks)
- Basic CSS
- Basic on-page SEO
- Content management systems like WordPress, Hubspot, or Squarespace
P.S. It’s a good idea to learn the ins and outs of the Associated Press style guide and then put it front and center on your resume!
Average entry-level salary: $39,000 USD
Copywriters have existed for as long as marketing itself. They specialize in writing short-form messages that grab your attention. Copywriters would produce:
- Billboard headlines
- Scripts for radio and video
- Website headlines
Copywriting exists everywhere you look. You see it every time you read a social post, search on Google, or browse a website (even if you don’t realize it). Billboards, busses, TV shows, YouTube ads—copywriters wrote those headlines and messages to grab your attention.
Copywriters are the heart and soul of the advertising industry, which is one of the biggest in the world.
ALSO READ: The average salary of history majors
Did you know that Google and Facebook make over 95% of their revenue from advertising? Copywriters are absolutely key in making those advertisements work, which means there is a big supply of work for them.
Here’s what makes copywriting such a good entry-level job for history majors.
- Crisp writing ability
- Understanding customers’ worldviews (empathy)
- Doing market research to underpin audience data
- That dark sense of humor that historians develop
History majors understand that different kinds of people have different values. Pairing that with communication skills spells success, and that is what makes this role such a good fit for historians.
Average entry-level salary: $33,000 USD
Content writing didn’t really exist before the early 2000s because digital marketing itself hadn’t really caught on. However, it’s become clear over the last two decades that the internet still runs on words, and history grads can take advantage.
Content writing is an excellent entry-level job for history majors because it makes use of their three strongest skills:
- Information literacy (rapid intake and synthesis)
Does this sound familiar?
- Find sources
- Evaluate those sources
- Extract the relevant information
- Compare notes between multiple sources
- Synthesize the relevant information into a coherent piece
- Put a “so what” in the conclusion
That’s essentially what a content writer practices all day long and it’s pretty much what history students spent their time doing throughout college, especially for essays.
As an entry-level content writer you’ll focus on writing more than the editorial side. Expect to pick up these skills as you grow:
- How to use WordPress
- Basic search engine optimization
- Google Docs
While some roles may fold the responsibilities of content writers and copywriters into a single role, the two are in fact different in a few key ways:
- The copywriter’s goal is to convince customers to buy. The content writer’s goal is to add value through information or entertainment.
- Copywriters focus on headlines and advertisements, while content writers focus on producing long-form pages to be consumed.
- Content writers are involved more with front-end web development and SEO, while copywriters tend to stick to traditional media and advertisements.
Average entry-level salary: $18,000 – $25,000 USD
Genealogy specialists practice history on a daily basis, making it no surprise that this would be a good entry-level job for history majors.
It takes a dedication to research to build a family tree, as well as familiarity with government records and deciphering handwriting. You really need to love research to make this a fulfilling career.
With that caveat out of the way, however, there’s good news: genealogy is a growing industry and it’s worth billions. Ancestry.com alone was valued at $4.7 billion dollars in 2020, and that’s just one of many companies in the space.
Why would anyone need a genealogist when there are so many software platforms and DNA tests available? It’s hard work, and the technology in this industry hasn’t replaced the need for cold, hard research.
Genealogy specialists are simply likely to use those tools because they expedite the research process. In fact, the technology makes it much more affordable to customers because so many records are digitized and made accessible. It beats hiring someone to travel around the world to read documents in church and government archives around the world.
ALSO READ: Internships for history majors
Average entry-level salary: $35,000 USD
“City clerk” isn’t the most exciting job in the world, but this role forms the backbone of municipal governments across the world. The high amount of record-keeping and documentation makes it a natural entry-level job for history majors, and you can it in any town or city!
City clerks tend to take on a wide range of responsibilities that might not require too much specialization—which is also a good match for the many generalists that come out of history programs.
Those responsibilities can include these.
- Creating, filing, and retrieving records
- Office management
- Support services
- Administrative tasks (e.g. scheduling meetings)
- Basic accounting
- Purchasing supplies or assets
- Assisting with organizing elections
From here you can move into other roles within government, or you could move laterally into the private sector by landing a job as an executive assistant or an office manager.
Non-profit program coordinator
Average entry-level salary: $34,000
Program coordinators are the backbone of the non-profit sector, where fundraising is the name of the game. These professionals execute on plans and strategies from program directors to raise money for certain causes, often tied to the non-profit organization itself.
A program coordinator would find itself doing many of these day-to-day tasks:
- Creating flyers and mailing materials
- Creating promotional materials
- Assisting with event promotion (outside of COVID)
- Community outreach
- Managing donor lists
This role is excellent for recent history grads because it relies so heavily on communication skill. The non-profit sector has its fair share of organizations dedicated to preserving history, architecture, and natural reserves as well.
Business development associate
Average entry-level salary: $38,000 USD
Business development is really just code for “sales,” and that’s generally not considered a strength for history majors.
So why include it on this list? Great question.
Pro tip: Many of the most famous history majors in the world became savvy business leaders. This field isn’t as inaccessible as you think!
There’s no doubt that business development is about interpersonal relationships, which means that extroverts tend to thrive here. More than that, however, is the fact that business development is about these things:
- Understanding pain points of other businesses
- Identifying which professionals have decision-making power (before you approach them)
- Listening with empathy to find a potential fit instead of aggressively selling
- Understanding big-picture market trends
- Communicating clearly, both orally and in writing
You might also be surprised to learn that many salespeople struggle to communicate the value of the products or services they’re trying to sell—and that’s a competitive advantage any trained history graduate can exploit.
Those are the top entry-level jobs for history majors that don’t require additional certification. Keep these in mind as you build up your resume, your portfolio, and your professional network. It’ll help you land jobs more effectively.
Happy hunting out there!