Many students are passionate about history during high school as it is a complex and broad subject that really has something for everyone!
Despite this, a lot of these students never end up taking their love of history on to university.
Now this, of course, is down to individual reasons for each student, but one of the key factors that hold people back from studying history at a university level is the common myth that you can't get a job with a bachelor degree of history.
This, quite simply, is wrong! For a start this myth lumps history into one huge subject covering a massive expanse of time, and that's just not how you study history.
There are specialised areas of history that students in Australia can choose to major in throughout their Bachelor of Arts degree.
Each of these areas of history has further specialisations, and all of the topics in these areas can make for viable careers as a historian. Whether you study ancient history, medieval history, early modern history, late modern history, or contemporary history; research is always being conducted in these areas and there is always need for fresh talent to join the ranks of historians providing expert insight to an area.
Even if you come to the end of your history bachelor degree at university and decide that you don't want to work in historical research, there are plenty of options for you.
These options don't all fall into industries that you might expect as when you study history and historiography at university you are gaining valuable skills that are transferrable to many different career paths.
This comes mainly from the critical thinking and content/source/data analysis skills that are required of any history student or graduate.
Let's take a look at some of the professions that are most suited for history bachelor degree graduates to start a career in.
1) Research Analyst
As a fresh history degree university graduate, you've probably spent countless hours over the last few years researching sources and references for essays and thesis's, and analysing the information that you have found to present it in an unbiased and concise manner.
This is essentially the same thing that a research analyst will do; Whether this is for market research, economic research, or even historical research itself! You can use your skills in this area to land a job with a market research company, online or physical newsprint, or a TV studio!
How do you think that historical documentary producers gather all of the information they need to create the show? Through research of course!
One of the most common industries for history graduates to work in, which isn't necessarily history-based, is Law. For much the same reasons as research analysis; Your critical thinking skills and ability to pull useful and unbiased information from sources will come in very handy when practicing law.
Another helpful skill you will have is your memory for dates and events. Sometimes in law, there are what's known as a 'landmark case', court cases where the outcome is completely unprecedented and marks a shift in the eyes of the law and justice.
One of the most famous landmark cases in Australia is 'Mabo vs Queensland No.2', in which an indigenous man fought a legal battle that paved the way for indigenous rights in Australia. As much as this is a landmark case in law, it's a landmark moment in history; The two come hand in hand in many respects, making it a relatively smooth transition if you wish to train as a lawyer after you graduate from your bachelor degree of history at university.
Law is one of the best-paid industries in Australia, with entry-level positions averaged at a $99,000 wage, with room only to grow. Keep that in mind if you are struggling with tuition fees.
One of the most admirable careers that people can undertake is that of a teacher. Few things are more important than educating the next generation of students and stoking their passion for important subjects like history.
Once you have completed your history degree, you could always complete a short teacher training course in order to qualify you to work in the school classroom or university lecture hall. You can decide if you want to teach at a primary or high school level, or even try your hand at becoming a professor at a university!
Teaching students what you are passionate about is a very rewarding experience, and you could truly make a difference in your students' lives!
You could be looking at a starting salary of around $60-70,000, not to be sniffed at!
Another option is to offer your services as a freelance private tutor, this way you could be your own boss and take on as much, or as little, work as you like.
Anthropology is the study of humankind and what makes us human and is truly a field that comes hand in hand with history.
The field is split into four different categories:
- Cultural/Social Anthropology
- Biological Anthropology
- Linguistic Anthropology
Throughout your study in your history degree or diploma, you are likely to have done a fair bit of research in all of these areas, leaving you in a fantastic position to start a thriving career in this area.
You can specialise in one of these areas, and one of your key roles will be looking back at the history of your subject to see how it relates to and has influenced the modern world we live in.
The research you conduct can have an important impact on social and cultural policies, as well as simply informing the world of amazing discoveries.
If you have a passion for lifelong study and are always looking to gain new insight into the world we live in, as well as helping others achieve this too, then you might consider working in a library.
Libraries have always been an important part of human history and culture since the creation of the first written languages over 5000 years ago.
As a history graduate, you are more likely than most to know about the importance of libraries as a source of knowledge for humanity, especially if you have looked into the famous Library of Alexandria.
The Library of Alexandria, in Egypt, was the largest and most important library in the world, holding untold numbers of irreplaceable ancient books and works. The library was partially destroyed by a fire caused by Julius Caesars' legions in the Roman civil war of 48 BCE, causing a huge loss of knowledge for humanity at the time.
With this in mind, historians should know how important access to books and knowledge is for everybody. It may not be the most glamourous of careers, but librarians in Australia can still expect to pull in upwards of $60,000 a year.
Do you need help with studying in your history bachelor degree course - why not look into hiring a private history tutor?
One of the most desired careers by history university graduates is a museum curator. For truly passionate students this is one of the best options to try and pursue after you complete your studies.
Imagine being in charge of sourcing, maintaining, organising, and displaying priceless antiquities from different periods of time.
Seek out rare pieces to add to your museums' collection and put on stunning exhibits. You could be displaying mummified corpses from Egypt or South America, artefacts from ancients Rome or Greece, or even acquiring newly discovered historical pieces from fresh archaeological digs.
One of the most interesting museums in Melbourne to look at is the Immigration Museum.
Perhaps the most obvious career option on this list, becoming an outright historian is definitely an option for those who have completed at least an undergraduate bachelor degree with a major in history at university.
There's no set place of work or daily tasks for a historian - You go where history takes you!
This is the goal for many students who study history at high school and university; To become an expert in your field of history and conduct research on the topics that interest you the most.
Work individually or as part of a team, focus on your own research or get involved with a university lead historical project. There are endless options for you to pursue as a historian.
You could write and publish a book, produce a documentary series, or even just work behind the scenes for matters like this; Digging up sources and researching interesting areas of the subject you have specialised in.
Historians can be found in many places:
- Cultural Heritage Organisations
- Tour guides at war memorials, castles, old towns in cities
- Ancestry Companies
- Researchers for historical film and TV
There is a huge range of work opportunities as a historian, but it can be quite a competitive career. This shouldn't put you off though, as if you feel passionately enough about something you will always find a way to do it.
In some ways, archivists are similar to museum curators and librarians, in that your duties would be to collect information through books and other historical sources, organise them, and keep them safe.
Every country in the world has a ridiculous amount of information and sources of content that hold historical significance, these could be newspaper reports, first-hand stories from people who witnessed historical events, or government statistics like the census.
All of this needs to be organised and looked after, and archivists are the ones to do it. You'll first find and gather the information, then study it to discern what is of significance, then archive it and make it readily available for public viewing through libraries, websites, or heritage institutes.
Becoming an Archivist takes an organised person, but other than that you should have garnered all of the necessary skills to succeed through your history degree. To work as an archivist, though, it is recommended that you also study and complete a masters or postgraduate degree at university in the relevant area you wish to work.
The extra work comes with a reward though, as you can expect a salary of over $85,000 a year in Australia working as an Archivist.
Of course, there are many other professions in which the knowledge and skills you gain from your history courses will be desirable, but hopefully, this list has given you an idea of the scope of industries you could choose to work within once you have completed your university bachelor degree with a major in history.
Just remember that if you wish to become an outright historian, it's a good idea to specialise in an area that interests you as soon as you can.
This could really be anything, from Australian History, American History, Medieval History, Ancient History, or Historiography, to more niche areas of study like specific historical events, certain periods of time, the history of a particular countries' government, or even Environmental History.
There are plenty of jobs and career options for history students to consider once they have finished their university bachelor or postgraduate degree, so don't let the false idea that there are no jobs for history graduates put you off from following your aspirations!
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