Career Opportunities for History Majors

Allegheny College History Graduates

92% of Allegheny History graduates were employed (FT), in graduate school, or completing post-graduate service within eight months of graduation

  • 56% were employed (FT 48% and PT 8%)
  • 36% were in graduate school
  • 8% were completing post-graduate service

Note: The post-Allegheny outcomes listed above reflect data for the class of 2014 collected within eight months of graduation and include a response rate of 89.3%.

History Alumni

What do these professionals have in common?
Answer:  They were all History majors.

Politics & Law

  • John F. Kennedy: 35th President of the United States
  • Joe Biden: 47th and current Vice President of the United States
  • Dianne Feinstein: United States Senator and former mayor of San Francisco
  • Elena Kagan: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Antonin Scalia: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Sonia Sotomayor: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Eric Holder: Attorney General
  • Henry Kissinger: 56th Secretary of State


  • Charlie Rose: Television talk-show host and journalist at PBS and CBS
  • Wolf Blitzer: Journalist and CNN television news anchor
  • Ray Suarez: Journalist for NPR, PBS, and Al Jazeera

Education & Literature

  • Drew Gilpin Faust: American historian and President of Harvard University
  • Robert Fogel: Nobel Prize-winning economic historian and scientist
  • Annie Proulx: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, journalist, and author
  • Salman Rushdie: Author and winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction


  • Carly Fiorina: Former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard
  • Martha Stewart: Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
  • Robert Johnson: Founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Arts & Entertainment

  • Julia Child: Chef, television personality, author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking
  • Janeane Garofalo: Actor, stand-up comedian, political activist, writer
  • Steve Carell: Oscar-nominated actor, comedian, director, producer
  • Katherine Hepburn: Actor, winner of four Academy Awards for Best Actress
  • Art Garfunkel: Grammy-award winning singer, poet, and Golden Globe-nominated actor
  • Jimmy Buffet: Singer-songwriter, restaurant entrepreneur, businessman


  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Professional basketball player, played 20 seasons in the NBA
  • Jacqueline “Jackie” Joyner-Kersee: Olympian, six-time medalist in four Olympic games

Why study History?

A major in history is of great value because it teaches you to:

  • draw connections between disparate societies and institutions.
  • assess subjects from multiple perspectives.
  • research, evaluate evidence, communicate, and problem solve.

So, You Think You Want To Study History?
Facts to dispel the myths that make some people nervous about majoring or minoring in History. History isn’t about memorizing boring facts. The discipline is versatile; you don’t have to go into education! History teaches people to think; it doesn’t train you narrowly for today’s soon-to-be-outdated job world. Historical knowledge is a powerful currency for the 21st century. From the Boston University History Department, 2015.

Liberal Arts Disciplines Prepare Graduates for Long-Term Professional Success: Analysis of census data tracks long-term earnings and employment rates of liberal arts graduates. Findings counter stereotypes about the value of liberal education. Association of American Colleges & Universities, January 2014.
“. . . whatever undergraduate major they may choose, students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long-term professional success.”

Why a History Degree is Useful in the Business World.
Christopher Brooks, American Historical Association, February 2015.
While studying in Germany, an American legal history graduate student took freelance jobs on the support staffs of various businesses to pay the bills. One day, he put in a bid for an assignment for a pretty big client and was invited to give his sales pitch. The company’s European head of research and development, a German, interviewed him. The discussion began with basic courtesies and talk about what the company needed; there was little discussion about the American’s academic background. About five minutes into the interview, the German pointed to a reproduction of a painting on the wall behind his desk and asked the American, “Who painted that?” The American replied, “Matisse, I think.” The German responded, “Good! Now, what are your thoughts on the Marshall Plan?”

And so the discussion went, for about 10 more minutes, after which time the American interjected: “Excuse me, sir, but why are you asking me all of these history questions?” The German: “Well, we had an American VP who was in a meeting recently with a French client, me, and my boss. The Frenchman looked up to the wall, pointed at the painting before him, this very one, and asked, ‘Who painted that?’ The American VP said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t need to know that stuff.’ At that moment, the French client left the room, along with his three-million-euro account.”

“Why did I ask you about history?” the German continued. “It is important for our business. And since you could answer my questions, you have the job.”

What can I do with a History major?

Area Employer
Federal Government
Public Policy
Foreign Service
Law Enforcement
General Services
Legislative, Executive, or Judicial Services
Program Administration
There are over 170 federal departments and agencies including:

  • The Smithsonian Institute
  • National Archives and Records
  • Library of Congress
  • National Park Service
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Foreign Service

Do extensive research in order to find the area that best fits your interests.

USAJOBS is the Federal Government’s official one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information.

Local and State Government
Public Policy
Regional Planning
City or Town Management
Legislative, Executive, or Judicial Services
Program Administration
General Services
Community Affairs
Social Services
Law Enforcement
  • Counties
  • Cities
  • Municipalities
  • Townships
  • Municipal Archives
  • Libraries
  • Museums. Parks, and Historic Sites
  • Arts and Humanities Councils
  • School Districts
  • Departments of State Government
  • Legislative Agencies
  • Court Systems
Elected or Appointed Leadership
Campaign Management
Staff Administration
Special Interest Advocacy
Political Advising
  • Legislative. Executive, or Judicial Offices
  • National, State, or Local Government
  • Political Action Committees
  • Political Parties
  • Campaigns: National, State, or Local
  • Industrial, Educational, Public Interest Groups
  • Lobbying Organizations
  • Large Business Firms
Nonprofit or Public Interest
Other Specialties
Law Assistance
  • Law firms
  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Private practice
  • Corporations
  • Special interest groups
  • Universities and colleges
  • Legal aid societies
  • Nonprofit and public interest organizations, e.g., ACLU, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Legal Services Corporation
  • Legal clinics
  • Other private legal services

Law School Admission Council (LSAC)
American Bar Association: Preparing for Law School Legal Resources: Law Student Center

CLEO: Dedicated to aiding disadvantaged students gain access to the legal profession

Public Relations
Program Coordination
Fund Raising/Development
Grant Writing
Volunteer Coordination
Community Education

  • History museums and historical sites
  • Historical associations and societies
  • Cultural heritage organizations
  • Historical projects
  • Research and service institutions
  • Libraries
  • Educational institutions
  • Local and national nonprofit agencies
  • Trade or professional associations
  • Special interest groups
  • Nonprofit organizations
Curatorial and Archival Management
Library Science
Functions Include:

  • Acquisition
  • Preservation
  • Arrangement
  • Cataloguing/Categorizing
  • Exhibition/Installation
  • Describing
  • Analyzing
  • Authenticating
  • Maintaining Records
  • Library Administration
  • Research
  • Education


  • Museums
  • Historical homes
  • Art galleries
  • Libraries including:
    • College, university, professional schools
    • Public, central and branches
    • Public and private K-12 schools
  • Special collections
  • Historical societies
  • Universities and colleges
  • State and local government
  • Federal government, particularly the National Archives and Records Administration
  • Corporations
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Research institutions

The Museum Employment Resource Center lists jobs and other information related to the museum, heritage management, and cultural resource communities.

Primary and Secondary:

  • Teaching
  • Administration
  • Library Services

Higher Education:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Information/Library Services
  • Administration
  • Student Support Services
  • Admissions
  • Financial Aid
  • Advising
  • Development
  • Student Affairs
  • Alumni Affairs

Community Education
Public History


  • K-12 schools, public and private
  • Boards of education
  • Four-year colleges and universities
  • Two-year and community colleges
  • Technical schools
  • Medical and professional schools
  • Museums Historical sites
  • Arboretums, gardens, and conservatories
  • Camps
  • National and state parks

The National Council on Public History (Jobs & Internship Listings) is a professional association that supports the field of public history.

Office Administration
Human Resources
Training and Development
Public Relations

  • Product and service organizations
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Wholesalers
  • Manufacturers
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Insurance companies
  • Real estate agencies
  • Consulting firms
  • Other business corporations
Electronic Media
Public Relations
News Programming
  • Newspapers: national, local, or trade
  • News departments of local, public, and commercial radio and television stations
  • Wire services
  • Magazines and journals
  • Internet sites
  • National, state, or regional radio networks
  • Independent radio syndications
  • Textbook or commercial publishing houses

General Information and Strategies

  • A major in history provides a broad, liberal arts education. Develop a career goal, and then obtain the skills, experiences, and education necessary to enter that field.
  • An undergraduate degree in history is good preparation for graduate study in history, as well as other areas such as, law, public administration, or business. Research the prerequisites for the degree of interest and tailor program of study to meet curricular requirements.
  • Part-time and summer jobs, internships, and volunteer positions are critical to gaining the experience and skills that employers seek.
  • Obtain leadership roles in school or community organizations. Get involved in student government, mock trial, debate team, or Model United Nations.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills are imperative for most careers related to history, politics, or government.
  • Prepare to develop a specialty area including both academic training and work experience for history related careers. Develop patience, persistence, and drive to obtain history related jobs.
  • Gain experience in fundraising and grant writing techniques. Nonprofit and educational organizations are often funded in this manner.
  • Conduct informational interviews to learn about careers of interest and develop a network contacts.
  • Research websites and books that address various job opportunities, hiring processes, and pay structure

Job Search Resources

Visit the Career Education website:

Career Education

The Office of Career Education recommends the following resources for Allegheny students and alumni who are searching for new professional opportunities or changing occupations.

  • GoinGlobal USA and GoinGlobal International: Packed with country-specific career information, these research tools provides expert advice and insider tips for finding employment opportunities at home and abroad.
  • LinkedIn: Search for both internship and full-time opportunities. LinkedIn users can save job/internship searches along with individualized alerts when new opportunities are posted.
  • Idealist.Org: Employment site for nonprofit jobs and volunteer opportunities. Can register to receive alerts when new opportunities are posted.
  • Useful site to search opportunities either by keyword, geographic location, or professional field.
  • The Riley Guide: A comprehensive site for resource guides, job search databases, and professional advice.
  • TalentZoo: Job search engine for individuals who want to work in the advertising, marketing, tech, and design industries. Also, features helpful industry articles and tips for job seekers.
  • The Career Project: Interactive site that allows you an uncensored look into thousands of careers through the experiences of individuals within professional fields.