Myths About Majoring in History

There are some common myths about history majors:

  • History Majors Are Underemployed
  • A History Major Does Not Prepare You for Gainful Employment
  • History Majors Are Underpaid.

Read this article to gain an accurate understanding. "History Is Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths with Data," by Paul B. Sturtevant, April 2017, published in the AHA's Perspectives Magazine.

The author writes that:
“Most history majors do not expect to become historians. Instead, they find meaningful careers in a wide range of fields. A history degree provides a broad skillset that has ensured that history majors are employed in almost every walk of life, with some notable trends . . . History majors seem particularly well-­prepared for certain careers. Nearly one in five goes into education—just over half as K-12th grade teachers. Another 15% enter management positions in business, and 11% go into the legal professions (most becoming lawyers). The “fast food worker” myth is definitely not backed up by the data; only 1.7% of history majors work in food preparation, compared to 5% of the overall population.

Nearly half of the history majors went on to graduate school—a much higher percentage than the national average (37%) . . . This might be because law, management, and education require advanced study. It could also mean that students interested in careers that require graduate training see a history major as a valuable springboard. Likely it is a combination of the two.

. . . The vast majority of history majors, of course, do not become professional historians; only 4.5% of history majors become educators at a postsecondary level (college professors). The number who become museum professionals—0.5 percent—is a very small slice of the overall pie as well.” However, most use their history background and training in a wide variety of careers that offer great flexibility and satisfying lifestyles.