Looking for facts about history majors and employment statistics about them? You’re in the right place. This page contains stats on enrollment, employment, and every major source for salary data.
Use this data to make decisions about your education and your career path, or even just to make a report. It only uses top sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics (from the U.S. Department of Education), The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Brookings Institute, and the Federal Reserve Bank.
History major stats
Use these history major statistics to understand how they fit into the post-secondary landscape. 27,349 history degrees were conferred in the United States in 2019 alone, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Of those history degrees, 23,169 were bachelor’s degrees, 3,340 were master’s degrees, and 840 were doctoral degrees.
Fun fact: 44,663 bachelor’s degrees in history were conferred in 1971 within the United States, and that number has never been reached again.
Enrollment in master’s programs appears to follow the same pattern as bachelor’s programs, with peak numbers occurring in 1971 and declining until the 1990s. Enrollment in doctoral history programs seems to have been steadier, however.
|Year||History bachelor’s degrees||History master’s degrees||History doctoral degrees|
Of all history degrees earned in 2019 at all levels (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral), 58.9% were conferred to men and 41.1% were conferred to women.
This is the gender breakdown for each level of history degree earned in 2019:
- Bachelor’s degrees: 59.7% conferred to men, 40.3% conferred to women.
- Master’s degrees: 53.7% conferred to men, 46.3% conferred to women.
- Doctoral degrees: 56.1% conferred to men, 43.9% conferred to women.
Of all history degrees earned in 2019, 84.7% were bachelor’s degrees, 12.2% were master’s degrees, and 3.1% were doctoral degrees.
History major employment statistics
There are approximately 1,200,000 history majors out of a total of 164,600,000 people in the American labor force. That means around 0.72% of the American workforce possesses a history degree.
Some other quick employment stats for history majors include:
- 16% are employed part-time.
- 60% are employed in occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- 50% of history grads have an advanced degree of some kind.
Below you’ll see the top 10 most common jobs for history majors in the United States, as outlined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Job for History Major||% of grads in job||Job growth, 2020 – 2030|
|High school teachers||5%||+8%|
|Personal service managers||4%||+7%|
Many of the most common jobs for history majors involve education, but you may be surprised to learn one of the most interesting facts about history majors is that 10% of them become lawyers—-and lawyers make an average of $126,930 per year (USD).
You can also see a breakdown of the industries where history majors tend to work most commonly.
- Education and libraries: 19%
- Management: 17%
- Legal: 12%
- Sales: 9%
- Business and financial: 8%
- Other: 35%
It’s not surprising that education and libraries are home to nearly a fifth of working history grads, but you may be surprised that 17% find management positions, too.
What about unemployment and underemployment rates, though? The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has the data to answer this.
History grads have an unemployment rate of just 3.8% in the United States. That’s right in the middle of the pack for all post-secondary programs that the Federal Reserve Bank measured. Compared with traditional college programs its unemployment rate is on the medium-low end of the spectrum.
However, history majors have a fairly high underemployment rate of 41.3%. What’s interesting here is that 41.3% is one of the highest underemployment rates among traditional college programs, yet it sits very much in the middle of the pack when you introduce specialist programs into the mix.
The graph below only covers traditional college programs, in which history grads have one of the highest underemployment rates, but the Federal Reserve Bank’s data lists programs that range from 11.2% to 73.2%. History’s underemployment rate sits right in the middle.
Salary stats for history majors
One of the most surprising history major facts is their earning power. Far from remaining baristas forever, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for history majors in the United States is $60,000.
Here is how that salary compares with other programs in the humanities, according to the BLS:
- Archaeology and anthropology median salary: $66,000
- Political science median salary: $64,000
- History median salary: $60,000
- Philosophy and religious studies median salary: $55,000
- Law median salary: $53,000
- English median salary: $51,000
- Visual and performing arts median salary: $42,000
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York offers deeper insights. In their early careers, history grads make just $38,000. At peak career, however, that number reaches a median of $65,000.
Here’s a granular breakdown, where you can see what history majors make over the course of 25 years after graduating, one year at a time. This data comes from the Hamilton Project, an arm of the Brookings Institute.
- 5 years into career: $42,000
- 10 years into career: $49,000
- 15 years into career: $64,000
- 20 years into career: $72,000
- 25 years into career: $74,000
The data is in: history majors make a respectable living wage. Sources from the BLS, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project all indicate that history majors make at least $60,000 per year, by the numbers.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics 1, BLS 2, The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, National Center for Education Statistics 1, NCES 2, NCES 3, NCES 4
From here you should check out our related resources for and about history majors:
- Average salary of history majors
- Best entry-level jobs for history grads (with salary data!)
- Remote history jobs that pay well
- Famous history majors
- The scope of an MA in history
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