A pile of history books next to an economics chart.

History and economics degree jobs that pay well

History and economics go hand in hand. Schools don’t organize courses that way, but you can build a rewarding career with a high salary when you combine the skills from both fields. History and economics degree jobs make use of long-term thinking, pattern recognition, and an intimate knowledge of how markets work.

 

ALSO READ: Entry-level jobs for history majors

 

Policy analyst

Policy analysts shape institutional policies. You’ll find these roles in organizations with a strong institutional hierarchy, including:

  • Government (all levels)
  • Hospitals
  • Professional associations
  • Large corporations
  • Large non-profit organizations
  • Large unions

They conduct research on polling data, events, public reactions, and any other kind of quantitative or qualitative data to outline what certain demographic groups want and how they are expected to react to certain policies. Policy analysts can also make recommendations based on that research.

 

Orange bar graph showing the average salaries for policy analust, public policy analysts, health policy analysts, senior policy analysts, and directors of public policy.

 

It’s common for analysts to specialize in certain areas or industries. If you choose this path then put some thought into your preferred topics, like healthcare, economics, the military, or education

Why are these jobs ideal for history and economics degrees?

It’s the combination of large-scale awareness, long-term thinking, and pattern recognition. You get all of those skills from both degrees. Economics brings the obvious advantage of understanding micro and macro economic factors that a policy would address, as well as understanding the financial impact of those decisions on the public.

 

ALSO READ: Famous history majors everyone should know

 

Economics grads can also bring conjoint analysis to the table, which would help with practical research immensely.

The history degree, on the other hand, gives you the glimpse into everything else surrounding those policies:

  • Public reactions (positive or negative)
  • Social impact
  • How a policy could be politicized
  • Cultural biases
  • Marginalized groups
  • How the policy will be viewed in 5, 10, and 20 years later

Policy matters. It provides structure for society in times of peace and growth, as well as direction and safety nets in times of crisis—like the 2008 financial crisis or the 2020 pandemic.

 

Grant writer

Every organization would enjoy some free money, and some of them are even considered eligible to receive it—if they can successfully apply for a grant.

That’s where grant writers come in, naturally.

They exist to increase an organization’s budget with public or private funding, depending on the industry and the nature of the project that the money will fund. Governments often set aside budgets to help grow high-value industries (such as media and technology), or to protect important economic niches in the region (such as steel, corn, or meat processing).

 

Orange bar graph showing the average salaries of grant writers, grant managers, directors of grants, directors of communications, executive directors, and directors of development.

 

Private funding, on the other hand, usually takes the form of venture funding or philanthropic donations.

Grant writing is a great choice among history and economics degree jobs for those more inclined toward the humanities because it leans heavily on the skills you develop from a history program:

  • The finished product is a written document.
  • The document is meant to be persuasive.
  • Applications also require research to frame benefits.

 

ALSO READ: How to get into journalism with a history degree

 

Having said that, an economics degree would be quite helpful in positioning the company as a champion of industry. Familiarity with micro economics would allow you to position the company in question as a serious—even necessary—asset to the community, both through its job creation and its exported products. Making financial projections would also come more naturally.

 

Investment analyst

This role is one of the best fits for history and economics because it makes such good use of long-term thinking and pattern recognition. Both disciplines provide these skills and investment analysts practice them in spades.

In this role you’d spend a lot of time gathering and reviewing facts to decide if a company is worth an investment. These would include:

  • Financial statements
  • Price developments
  • Currency adjustments
  • Competitor analysis
  • Yield fluctuations
  • National and international economic fluctuations

 

Orange bar graph showing the average salaries of an investment analyst, a senior investment analyst, a portfolio manager, and a chief investment officer.

 

Some of those factors are quantitative and financial in nature, like yield fluctuations. An economics degree would be useful to parse those, obviously. Yet others are qualitative, such as competitor analysis or understanding how non-financial factors can upset company stock prices (like Facebook’s $200 billion drop in market value). That’s where a history degree’s skills come in handy.

With all of that data in hand, investment analysts make recommendations on stocks for certain companies with three options:

  1. Buy
  2. Sell
  3. Hold

 

ALSO READ: The average salary of a history major

 

They pass those recommendations on to a portfolio manager, which allows the portfolio manager to make informed decisions at a high level. It’s also common for investment analysts to specialize in a niche to make more precise analyses for a given sector.

The job requires a lot of travel to visit and inspect companies included in a portfolio. It’s rewarding, but it takes a toll.

 

Portfolio manager

Portfolio managers have pretty straightforward job descriptions: they manage investment portfolios for high-net-worth individuals, mutual funds, and pension funds. They direct the fund’s investment strategy and oversee daily trades.

It’s a big responsibility to oversee a collection of investments for growth, both short-term and long-term. Portfolio managers make a lot of money to match that level of responsibility.

They take one of two approaches:

  • Active approach: They try to beat the average market returns by consciously taking advantage of short-term opportunities to “buy low and sell high.”
  • Passive approach: Investing for long-term growth, usually through carefully chosen index funds. Day trading is limited.

 

Orange bar graph showing the average salaries of an investment analyst, a senior investment analyst, a portfolio manager, and a chief investment officer.

 

Like investment analysts, portfolio managers are one of the most rewarding history and economics degree jobs because it benefits so much from historical thinking and pattern recognition. Understanding economic cycles intimately is a big part of most investment strategies, but so is an understanding of communication and PR.

The difference is this: while investment analysts work to find the best immediate decision to buy, sell, or hold a stock, portfolio managers make big-picture investment decisions based on those recommendations.

 

ALSO READ: Can you get an MBA with a history degree?

 

An economics degree is obviously helpful in managing money timed around market developments, and that’s what you’d lean on the most. But a history degree can also help portfolio managers see the confluence of factors across time, including:

  • Social movements
  • Military tensions or conflicts
  • Trade embargos
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Epidemics and endemics
  • Political unrest
  • Media and public relations
  • Advances in technology
  • Government regulation (or lack thereof)
  • Environmental changes or disasters

It complements the economics degree nicely with similar thinking outside of the financial sphere, providing a holistic view of the market’s past, present, and future.

 

Financial adviser

Most of us need money to make our way in the world. That’s why most people need some financial advice—and where financial advisers come into play.

Advisers help people to grow their long-term wealth by putting savings toward carefully chosen jobs, like investments, a mortgage, estate planning, insurance, and short-term emergency funds. It’s about recognizing patterns in spending and saving, then showing clients how to put financial gains toward long-term goals.

Good news: personal finance is much simpler than corporate finance, and the software that powers it is available at every financial institution. You don’t need to be a finance graduate or a math whiz to succeed.

In fact, you can become a highly effective financial adviser with certification and good people skills.

 

Orange line graph showing the average salary of a financial adviser, starting at $50,000 in the first year and rising to over $80,000 in the 20th year.

 

The profession does require certification, and for good reason—financial services tend to come with complexity and strict regulation. Beyond learning the content of the industry, an economics and history background will do wonders here.

Here’s why.

First, a degree in economics is likely to make you more familiar with the ebbs and flows of an individual’s rising and falling financial commitments with car loans, real estate, raising a child, education funds, and so on (sometimes called the Theory of Decreasing Financial Responsibility). You’ll have an intuitive sense of what clients should do with their money at any given stage of life.

Second, an economics degree will make you more attuned to your economic cycle of your client’s country. No one can predict the future, of course, but it will help you make informed recommendations about investments and the real estate market.

 

ALSO READ: Remote history jobs worth pursuing

 

Your history degree’s training in long-term thinking will let you illustrate past cases where smart financial strategy paid off, or how people survived and thrived the previous economic downturns (such as the 2008 financial crisis).

Personal finance doesn’t necessarily require a degree in finance or math to succeed. You need to understand how people view money as a part of their lifestyle and persuade them to make strategic decisions to build a better future for themselves. That’s what makes it one of the best history and economics degree jobs.

 

Mortgage Broker

Many people want to own real estate, and most of those people don’t have several hundred thousand dollars lying around to buy a property outright.

That’s why mortgages have long since become a staple of independent living in the 20th and 21st centuries.

But how do you know if a mortgage is good or not—or the best offer, for that matter? This is where mortgage brokers help home buyers. They guide home buyers through the entire process of securing a mortgage—a long-term loan specifically for purchasing real estate.

 

An orange line graph of an average mortgage broker's salary increase over a 20-year period.

 

You don’t need a degree to follow this career path, but it’s a great match for anyone with an economics or history degree who also excels at sales.

Having a history degree gives you a great sense of the real estate market’s ebb and flow, as well as the ability to communicate how interest rate changes have affected home owners in the past.

An economics degree isn’t strictly needed any more than a history degree, but it certainly adds legitimacy for several reasons:

  • You could advise home buyers on timing their entry into the market more accurately.
  • You could retain business with home owners truly expert advice on renewals.

Being a mortgage broker does require a lot of sales work, so this isn’t a good role for introverts or spreadsheet jockeys. Putting your people skills to use alongside knowledge of the economy and historical thinking can be a powerful combination, though.

 

ALSO READ: Should I major in history?

 

Real estate developer

Real estate development is a complex job that involves a lot of prep, strategy, and industry knowledge. This is what you could expect to do in this role:

  • Intense market research
  • Researching municipal real estate policies
  • Financial analysis
  • Location scouting
  • Project financing
  • Land acquisition
  • Gaining approvals and permits to build
  • Project management

 

Orange line graph of an average real estate developer's salary increase over time.

 

It’s a lot for one job, and that’s why it takes some time to gain the necessary certifications in real estate first. You’ll need to take a course with one of these associations, specifically:

An economics degree brings straightforward benefits here. Understanding micro economic factors at play would help you find an ideal location in which to acquire land and build a property, taking full advantage of municipal tax policies and building where home buyers or commercial tenants will flock.

A history degree amplifies that with methodical research skills (for market research) and the ability to communicate an expert opinion across your organization, during the land acquisition process, and in securing financing for the real estate project.

 

History and economics degree jobs are plentiful and fulfilling, most often using the communication and research skills from one to amplify the specialized knowledge of the other. Many of these roles pay well, too, which is always nice!

What’s next, then? Start thinking about the kind of role you want, narrowing it down to 3 potential jobs.  Then look into certifications needed for those roles.

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb

Andrew Webb is on a mission to show humanities graduates how to land jobs and build careers. He turned a history degree and a 9-month stretch of unemployment into a fulfilling career in digital marketing and technology, then founded the Employed Historian blog to show humanities grads how to build their careers, too.

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