What can you do with a history degree?

What can you do with a history degree?

History degrees have always been popular, especially since it’s a subject that many people fall in love with at a young age. There are so many fields of history that you can focus on or specialise in, making it a truly diverse degree field, and perhaps that is why 86,010 students studied the subject in 2019/2020. So, what can you actually do with a history degree? Read on to find out.

1. Academic Researcher 

careers related to history

Average salary: £27,000 to £39,000 at postdoctoral level, £43,000 to £58,000 as a senior lecturer

Other qualifications needed: to be at least studying for a PhD

Hours: 35 hours a week plus necessary out-of-work hours

Your responsibilities as an academic researcher will involve carrying out original, high-level research either alone or in a group. You will have to organise your own time and a budget effectively to account for off-site and potentially even overseas visits and will need to analyse large sets of data and information whilst working to incredibly strict deadlines provided by a fund or grant holder.

You will be asked to present your findings at international and national conferences and will have to prepare and write expert-level papers for peer-reviewed journals. You’ll attend meetings regularly with groups and support staff, will have to apply for sources of funding and will likely have to teach undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Overall, you will be developing knowledge and skills relating to your industry and developing working relationships with contacts inside and outside your university, all while complying with health and safety and ethics requirements, planning and developing future research and supervising students undertaking their own masters and PhD studies.

2. Archivist 

careers to do with history

Average salary: £20,931 minimum recommended salary, £28,256 for archivists with experience and £33,488 for archivists in management roles, highest salaries around £57,560

Other qualifications needed: postgraduate qualification accredited by the ARA

Hours: Shift work or flexible working

Archivists are responsible for preserving information and making it accessible to other people. This often involves valuable historical books, maps, photos, prints, tapes, films, papers, and digital records. You will do so by evaluating records for preservation and retention, assessing fragile items and those in need of repair, cataloguing collections and managing information. You’ll also be liaising with donors, advising and supporting users, preparing record systems, identifying ways of protecting collections and advising on the ongoing organisation of data and archives.

You will spend the majority of your time on a computer, and much of the time you might be alone as many organisations only hire one archivist. Some of the work you do in your role may well be physically demanding, so be aware that it might require more of you than other full-time work.

This job is best suited for those with an interest in history, record-keeping, research, accuracy and somebody who has good communication skills, the ability to adapt and good IT literacy.

3. Heritage Manager 

history careers

Average salary: £16,000 at entry-level, up to £25,000 at postgraduate level and then after 2 to 3 years experience salaries reach £25,000 to £40,000. Senior-level managers could earn up to £70,000

Other qualifications needed: none necessary, but a pre-entry qualification in heritage or museum management may benefit applications

Hours: often early starts and late finishes, unsocial hours and weekend working

Heritage managers are responsible for managing budgets, securing funding, generating income, running a shop, organising and monitoring buildings and renovations. They do this using IT, project management, report writing, liaising with external agencies, developing outreach activities and analysis of feedback.

Working in this role, you will largely be office based but will often spend time outdoors at heritage sites. This job is very organisation-based, and it is very unlikely to find work as a self-employed manager.

You’ll need to have excellent communication skills, great customer service abilities, a genuine interest in the heritage sector, good negotiation skills, commercial awareness, enthusiasm for learning, time-management skills, project management skills and leadership abilities.

4. Museum Education Officer 

history careers

Average salary: £18,000 to £20,000 for assistant level jobs, £20,000 to £28,000 for experienced officers, £30,000 to £40,000 for senior management roles

Other qualifications needed: none essential, but a Masters’s degree can help with applications

Hours: usually 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday

Museum education officers will be responsible for creating a learning strategy, developing programmes of talks, liaising with schools, teaching, creating resources, delivering talks, launching new initiatives, collating feedback, generating income, working with other museum staff and representing and promoting the museum.

You could be based in a single museum, or you could be based in multiple museums. You might be the only education officer, or you might work within a team in a larger museum. These sorts of jobs are available all over the country, in both rural and urban areas.

Museum education officers need to have a certain set of skills, such as enthusiasm and curiosity, communication skills, teaching, writing and creativity, the ability to manage budgets and resources, teamworking skills and self-motivation. You will need to be able to work under pressure and you will need knowledge of and sensitivity to cultural and disability issues.

5. Museum/Gallery Curator 

careers in history

Average salary: £18,000 to £25,000 for assistant curators, developing to £26,000 to £35,000 for typical salaries, £40,000 upwards for senior-level curators

Other qualifications needed: none necessary, but a Masters’s degree or PhD in your specialism is beneficial

Hours: most often Monday to Friday, 9-5, but sometimes extra work will be needed to set up exhibitions

Museum and gallery curators are responsible for acquiring objects or collections, cataloguing acquisitions, carrying out background research, writing material for the website, writing articles, planning and organising exhibitions, collaborating with other museum departments and managing bids and negotiations. You will also manage staff recruitment, budgets, voluntary groups, management boards and a lot of networking.

Curators will typically work Monday to Friday, but extra hours are often required – especially in the run-up to an exhibition. You might also have to provide cover for evening meetings and social events in exchange for time off or additional wages.

Curators have to have a certain skill set that should include an interest in your subject area, accuracy and attention to detail, communication to detail, motivation, IT literacy, political awareness, teamwork skills, project management skills and a flexible approach to your work.

6. Museum/Gallery Exhibitions Officer

careers in history

Average salary: £19,000 to £25,000 for starting salaries or £27,000 to £40,000 at a senior level

Other qualifications needed: none needed

Hours: Often full-time with extra hours to set up exhibitions when necessary

Working in the museum, exhibitions officers are responsible for planning programmes for special and permanent exhibitions, sourcing exhibits and researching artists and exhibits. They also help with securing loans for exhibitions, working with curators, writing draft proposals, and coordinating liaisons between specialists and designers. They assist with the installation of exhibits, negotiating loans, writing and commenting on storyboards, getting involved with the media, assisting with the production of exhibits, working with schools and liaising with internal and external staff.

Exhibitions officers are usually responsible for setting up, and so whilst they might work 9-5 usually, there will often be extra hours required of you in order to set everything up in time for exhibitions.

In order to succeed in this role, you will need to have a strong commitment to your field of work, practical skills, an innovative approach to work, project management skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and a genuine interest in artefacts, good IT skills and self-motivation. You may also need to get a full DBS check.

7. Secondary School Teacher 

careers in history

Average salary: In England £25,714 to £36,971; In Wales £27,018 to £37,320; In Northern Ireland £23,199 to £33,906; In Scotland £27,498 to £41,412

Other qualifications needed: PGCE, Teach First

Hours: 39 weeks of the year, 8.30 am to 4 pm minimum, often 7.30 am to 5 pm

As a secondary school history teacher, you will be responsible for preparing and delivering lessons, marking work and giving feedback, researching new topics and selecting and using different resources. You’ll be preparing students for teams, managing pupil behaviour, undertaking pastoral roles, communicating with parents, liaising with other teachers, supervising NQTs and assistants and undergoing regular observations.

You will be working in classrooms and offices, with much of your work done at home in preparation for work. Much of your marking and lesson planning will be done out-of-hours in order to best supply students with adequate lessons.

Teaching is not an easy job, you need to have a specific set of skills. You have to have a respect for children and an interest in helping them develop, excellent communication skills, the capacity to learn quickly, good listening skills, strong organisational and time management skills, the ability to inspire, dedication, resourcefulness, a sense of humour, imagination, good judgement and a lot of patience.

8. Academic Librarian 

careers in history

Average salary: £17,000 to £22,000 for graduate trainees, £22,000 to £35,000 for assistant librarians, £28,000 to £35,000 for subject librarians, £31,000 to £81,000 for senior librarians

Other qualifications needed: CLIIP accredited postgraduate qualification

Hours: Typically a 35-hour week with occasional evening, weekend and bank holiday work

Academic librarians are responsible for developing and managing collections of books, selecting and acquiring information for the catalogue, creating and updating information, and coordinating and delivering information. They’ll be contributing to academic course development, assisting researchers, establishing and maintaining relationships, managing reading lists, taking on responsibility for archives, dealing with user enquiries and managing budgets.

Typically, academic librarians will work 35 hour weeks from Monday to Friday and might occasionally be asked to work evenings, weekends or bank holidays.

You will need good customer service skills, IT skills, research skills, the ability to work as a team, the ability to think logically, organisational skills, and the ability to lead and motivate others.

9. Archaeologist 

careers in history

Average salary: £21,000 to £25,000 for starting salaries, increasing to £25,000-£32,000 and then again to £32,000-£41,000 at senior levels

Other qualifications needed: a postgraduate qualification in Archeology, Forensic Archeology or Archeological science

Hours: usually 37.5 hours per week, sometimes weekends and evenings

Archaeology is a very broad field with over 80 job titles fitting under the umbrella term of archaeology. However, as an archaeologist, you will have similar responsibilities in many of the roles. They include identifying and surveying sites, working on field excavation sites, managing projects, recording sites, using computer applications, cleaning and preserving finds, using computers to produce simulations, conducting laboratory tests and producing site reports.

Generally, in archaeology, you will work 37.5 hour weeks, Monday to Friday. However, if there is a deadline on an excavation site you may be expected to work late.

To be a successful archaeologist you will need to have the necessary practical skills, dexterity in using the right tools, and excellent written and spoken communication and interpersonal skills. Likewise, you’ll need good research skills, data management skills, IT literacy, the ability to work both alone and as part of a team, self-motivation, organisation and project management skills, negotiation skills and an understanding of onsite health and safety.

Looking for more career options? Check out what jobs you can do with a psychology degree.

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