12 Cool Careers for History Buffs

Stella Morrison

Business News Daily Contributing Writer

Updated Aug 03, 2022

Here are 12 unique, history-inspired career paths you can take instead of teaching or academia.

  • Teaching is not the only job available to those with a history degree; there are many careers outside the classroom that unite your love of history with different sectors.
  • History majors’ skills can easily transfer to other sectors.
  • In some fields, you can potentially earn more than $100,000 per year with a history degree.
  • This article is for people with history degrees considering career options outside the teaching field.

History buffs often feel limited to jobs like teaching, researching, and working in archives, but those careers don’t appeal to everyone. A college degree can take you down any number of interesting career paths, and history degrees are no exception.

If you have a passion for the past but prefer a more unique career path, you’re in luck: There are many interesting careers for those with history degrees, and many of them are even well-paid management positions.

So, what jobs are available for someone with a history degree? Here are some that might be right for you.

1. Public relations manager

According to HistoryDegree.net, one of the highest-paying jobs for those with a history degree is a public relations manager. While this may not be an obvious career path when you think of a history degree, it requires many of the skills you learned to be an effective communicator. Additionally, your experience with research gives you the skills to identify audiences according to client needs and budget.

Depending on the market, the average income for a public relations manager is around $115,000 per year, with some positions making a bit more or less. As you gain experience, your income will rise too.

2. Marketing manager

Different from a PR manager, a marketing manager oversees all aspects of marketing in a company. Being a marketing manager takes great communication skills, but it also helps to have deep knowledge of what you’re marketing, as this helps you connect with the audience you’re trying to reach. If you’re working as a marketing manager in a company or industry that overlaps with history (such as a museum, a historical institution, or certain types of publishing houses), your history degree can come in handy.

Marketing is vital to the success of a company, so hiring a marketing manager is a priority for many companies. A marketing manager can expect to earn around $100,000 a year, but the salary can vary significantly by industry and market.

3. Genealogist

Connecting the past with the present is one of the most fascinating aspects of working in history. Entering the genealogy field can be a unique way to unite your love of history and your research skills to link eras past with the future. Genealogists work with individuals or families to trace their backgrounds and research their ancestors, using birth and marriage certificates, court records, obituaries, and other historical artifacts and documents.

Even with services like Ancestry.com and Geni dominating the market, your skills can come in handy in this field, because you’ll know where to look for records that aren’t available online. You’ll also know how to interpret recordkeeping standards and trends in a way that helps your clients find what they need to link people in their family tree. Every case is exciting, because you never know what you’ll find – your next client could be related to a past celebrity or important historical figure. The salary of a genealogist in the U.S. ranges from about $50,000 to $86,000 per year.

4. Museum technician

Fascinated by fossils? Museum technicians are the people behind the displays you see in museums. They work with fossils, skeletons, art, books, and other artifacts, preparing them for research, exhibits, and proper storage (when a collection is no longer on display). This is a great job for people who love museums and want to take a more hands-on approach to history. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a museum technician is approximately $50,000.

5. Living historian

If you’re the type of person who fully embraces your career as a central part of your life, you might want to consider working as a living historian. Living historians work at museums, fairs and historic sites to illustrate the past come to life. They often dress in period-specific clothing and perform everyday activities as people from that period typically would.

Living historians are different from historical reenactors. While reenactors recreate specific historical events like the Civil War, living historians portray the day-to-day life and activities of their chosen period in history and educate visitors in the process. This is among the lower-paying historic jobs; according to Indeed, a living historian may make a little under $20,000 each year.

6. Underwater archaeologist

Talk about unique! Underwater archaeologists study and examine shipwrecks, sunken aircrafts, historical remains, and artifacts found in oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water. They also research once-inhabited areas that have become submerged after natural disasters. Depending on where your interests lie, you could be involved in the searches for wrecks and historical sites, deep-sea excavation, or artifact recovery, restoration, and conservation.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an underwater archaeologist can earn anywhere from $30,000 to more than $75,000, depending on the amount of experience you have and the role.

7. Dramaturge

If your head says “history” but your heart says “theater,” a career as a dramaturge could be the perfect way to combine your skills and interests. Dramaturges work with playwrights and theater companies to research and adapt plays, ensuring they are culturally and historically correct and relevant. This is a great job for history buffs who want to contribute to the art world as well.

A dramaturge does not usually get a salary; they often get a stipend instead. This stipend could range from $2,000 to $5,000.

8. Geographer

If you have an interest in studying the earth and how it interacts with other parts of the universe, this might be the job for you. You will be responsible for teaching physical and cultural phenomena. You might be able to teach at a college or work with a government agency. Geographers often earn an average of $72,000 per year.

9. Writer and editor

Writing and editing publications about history can be just as valuable and important as studying it. As a historical writer, you can publish books, write articles, and edit other manuscripts that cover historical areas of which you have intimate knowledge. This valuable knowledge bank ensures that articles are interesting and well written as well as accurate. Becoming a writer often involves a college degree too, so you can put your B.A. in history to work.

The pay for a history writer varies dramatically by context: Some publications pay per article, while the salary for full-time positions will depend on the type, scope, frequency and size of the publication.

10. Political scientist

As a political scientist, you’d study political systems and their origins, process of development, and operations. You’d also study the way those pieces work together. While many political science jobs are in teaching and academia, there is a place for this position in the business world. Government agencies often hire political scientists as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a political scientist in 2020 was $125,350.

11. Archivist

As an archivist, you’d be responsible for evaluating a document or other item to determine if it offers valuable information. Archivists maintain the information, record it by scanning it, catalog it so it can be easily located, and store it appropriately. The information you handle as an archivist could span various media types, such as pictures, videos, documents and letters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an archivist is $61,210.

12. Paralegal

This may seem like an odd job for someone with a history degree, but history buffs make great paralegals. You won’t find law and legal procedures and processes in typical history classes, but many of the skills that you develop in your classes are great for the legal world. As a paralegal, you would be writing and researching, like you did as a history major.

Your earnings as a paralegal would depend greatly on where you live, but on average, your salary would probably be in the high $30,000s or low $40,000s.

Image Credit:

GaudiLab / Getty Images

By Erin Wheeler
Erin Wheeler Career Consultant