What can you do with a history degree ?

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Owen, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Was chatting with friends over a cuppa yesterday , talking about their children & relatives who are/were at Uni.
    I said I wish I'd done a history degree & they said their nephew did one & now manages a community centre.
    The comment , ''What can you do with a history degree anyway apart from becoming a history teacher ?'' was made by my chums.
    I could've mentioned a few examples but didnt as wanted another cuppa tea.

    So I thought I'd ask any members on here that same question.

    ''What can you do with a history degree ?''
     
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Collect trolleys at Sainsbury? :) Because according to a conversation on Twitter the other day, you can only call yourself a historian if you have a PhD and teach history for a living. (Or something like that, really couldn't be bothered to read the replies to the original Tweet.)
     
    Jonathan Ball likes this.
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I work for a University in London and our plumber is in the middle of doing a post-grad degree in history.

    He has been able to choose from a wide range of subjects including modern military, he has chosen to study American history. I showed him my website and he reckons that the work there would be more than enough to get me through about 60% of the required study, especially the individual papers at the end of the course.

    I would consider it, but I am moving into the coaching and mentoring side of things for work proper and time is going to be a real issue in that regard. I'd love to do a History degree otherwise.:)
     
  4. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Don't know about a history degree but when I worked for a major confectionery company we had a manager in the Construction / Maintenance / Engineering department with a degree in Zoology.
     
    Drew5233 likes this.
  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    A few ideas below from a newspaper article on line

    What skills have I gained?

    History provides graduates with a wide range of transferable skills. Principally, students develop the ability to understand and analyse issues and events to a high level of competence. Other marketable skills include:

    • a talent for clear expression, both oral and written;

    • putting forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner;

    • gathering, investigating and assessing material;

    • basing conclusions on research and generating ideas;

    • organising material in a logical and coherent way.

    To employers who recruit graduates in any discipline, these skills will be more important than the actual subject.

    What careers can I pursue?

    At first glance, history graduates might appear suited mainly to roles such as museum curators or history teachers, but the skills you have gained will prepare you well for numerous careers, according to Margaret Holbrough, careers adviser at Graduate Prospects.

    "A significant number enter the legal profession, where their analytical and critical reasoning skills are highly valued, as well as library, information and archivist careers, where their research expertise and ability to select, manage and organise information comes to the fore," she says.

    Politics, publishing, journalism, media and writing in all its forms are similarly suitable, alongside business and commerce, public sector administration and the charity and voluntary sectors.



    What to do with a degree in history | Money | The Guardian
     
    Orwell1984 likes this.
  6. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Collect trolleys at Sainsbury? :) Because according to a conversation on Twitter the other day, you can only call yourself a historian if you have a PhD and teach history for a living. (Or something like that, really couldn't be bothered to read the replies to the original Tweet.)

    Go on, Lee who was that? probably someone who's blocked me no doubt!

    I was having a similar conversation. There are those who go around calling themselves so who have done nothing. My point was that people who create websites, provide research services and write, regardless of qualifications have as much right to call themselves a Historian as someone who has a PhD and spends hours telling everyone so.

    There was a notable Historian who used to tweet "There speaks someone without a History Degree" It was a thoughtless phrase which he/she no longer uses, thanks to a calming voice no doubt of someone a little older and wiser.
     
    Stormbird likes this.
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    One job that comes to mind is insurance investigator. Trained historians know how to put evidence together into a coherent whole that tells who, what, when, where, and why. Those skills are useful in any field where you have to make decisions based on individual pieces of information that have been brought together.
     
  8. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    A few ideas below from a newspaper article on line

    What skills have I gained?

    History provides graduates with a wide range of transferable skills. Principally, students develop the ability to understand and analyse issues and events to a high level of competence. Other marketable skills include:

    • a talent for clear expression, both oral and written;

    • putting forward ideas and arguments in a concise manner;

    • gathering, investigating and assessing material;

    • basing conclusions on research and generating ideas;

    • organising material in a logical and coherent way.

    To employers who recruit graduates in any discipline, these skills will be more important than the actual subject.

    What careers can I pursue?

    At first glance, history graduates might appear suited mainly to roles such as museum curators or history teachers, but the skills you have gained will prepare you well for numerous careers, according to Margaret Holbrough, careers adviser at Graduate Prospects.

    "A significant number enter the legal profession, where their analytical and critical reasoning skills are highly valued, as well as library, information and archivist careers, where their research expertise and ability to select, manage and organise information comes to the fore," she says.

    Politics, publishing, journalism, media and writing in all its forms are similarly suitable, alongside business and commerce, public sector administration and the charity and voluntary sectors.



    What to do with a degree in history | Money | The Guardian

    This post makes an excellent point. Undergraduate degrees in particular are more likely to provide general skill sets rather than specific career goals. This is true in the sciences as well as the humanitites. English, History, Economics, Biology, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Language degrees etc at an undergraduate level all lay a base that can be built on, a base that frequently leads in career directions that have nothing to do with the original degree. One of my friends has a degree in French and is now a Senior VP of Development at a university in Western Canada where French is very seldom spoken.
    I know some of my fellow history students who are lawyers, speech writers, public relations consultants,advertising executives, bankers, politicians, executives at polling companies and yes even history professors.
    I myself have ended up as senior management at an international company specializing in nutrional supplements after a long career in book selling and publishing.
    Not really where I expected to end up with my degree but it seems to have paid off
    :)
    Cheers
    Mark
     
  9. DPas

    DPas Member

    Maybe I am imagining things but there seems to be a lot more interest in history among the general public than there ever was. Areas like journalism, writing and documentary film making would all seem to feed into this. But with any career the standards are rising all the time. It used to be a case that a school education would see you sorted for life, then it was a degree, now it is a masters and if you want to work in academia a PhD has become essential. The thing is you can do a degree in one thing and a postgrad qualification in another so you can leverage your passion for history in a number of ways. For example a history degree and a journalism postgrad.
     
  10. Jakob Kjaersgaard

    Jakob Kjaersgaard Senior Member

    Well, here in Denmark, the only way really if you want to work with something related to the museum/research area, is by having some sort of history or cultural heritage management degree. By having a degree like this your chance of getting work within this area will increase significantly.
     
  11. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Jonathan, can't remember exactly but I think the question was posed by a historian who's made her name through television and was perhaps feeling a little defensive as a result.

    Looking from the outside, there seems to be a lot of snobbery from the more academic PhD historians, looking down on those who've made a name for themselves through television or journalism rather than through the traditional higher education route. I can understand their attitude, even if I personally do not agree with it.

    Getting back to Owen's original question, perhaps another answer is that a history degree is not good enough to be a 'professional historian' but the first stepping stone, as far as academia is concerned. Although ironically a rather good degree to have if you don't want to be a professional historian.



    Go on, Lee who was that? probably someone who's blocked me no doubt!

    I was having a similar conversation. There are those who go around calling themselves so who have done nothing. My point was that people who create websites, provide research services and write, regardless of qualifications have as much right to call themselves a Historian as someone who has a PhD and spends hours telling everyone so.

    There was a notable Historian who used to tweet "There speaks someone without a History Degree" It was a thoughtless phrase which he/she no longer uses, thanks to a calming voice no doubt of someone a little older and wiser.
     
  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    In Canada it is increasingly difficult to find real work with simply an Arts degree. History, English, Polysci, Psychology, Sociology, etc. Unless you plan to also obtain a Masters and PhD to pursue a limited range of careers in that field, the prospects are slim for what are now being called "Hobby degrees".
    The days where any degree would get your foot in the door are long past. We joke about Arts grads needing to know one key phrase,"Do you want fries with that?" but that reflects a growing number of Arts grads who are performing low end jobs while trying to pay off student loans.
     
  13. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The publishing company I was associated with rated highly a history degree when recruiting trainee reporters for the staff of their two regional newspapers. On the other hand, we had a Divinity Graduate who was an excellent financial reporter and analyst.

    Joe Brown
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I know a young woman who studied Law for two years - gave it up as all the instructors were boozers - took European History and is now M.D. of a large Investment Bank's compliance Division ...... and when asked how many Lawyers worked for her - claimed about half of them ....and thinking of retiring at 55

    Cheers
     
  15. wowtank

    wowtank Very Senior Member

    What can you do with a History Degree?


    Be called the professor in you local pub because you are captain of the pub quiz team.


    Work in a local museum and put up with members of the public brining in stuff that 'ant fit for a charity shop but never the less they think it is of historical significance in and of course the over 55 volunteers who read the Daily Mail!


    Have a false sense of ego because you only know the stuff on your University syllabus.


    Write a bad book but you think is the mutts nuts and whore it round inter-web forums. (Did I say I have book coming out muhaha muhaha)


    seriously the question should be what can you not do. If you are in good health and have some education behind you the sky is the limit.
     
  16. zerostate

    zerostate Senior Member

    You could always become a respected author in a particular historical field, then make a complete twat of yourself in a public forum by categorically stating that your facts are correct and no argument could ever be right, because you know for a fact that you are right and have proof of it... But because you just relied on the same old sources you didn't realise that an amateur had actually discovered something new, had the proof to back it up, and when he published it in that forum and every other historian, both professional and amateur on there, admitted it was great research and indeed proven to be correct, you go strangely silent on the subject.

    True story!

    On a less bitchy note - anything you want to do! My degree was Philosophy with Linguistics, and I've been a catering manager; a sub-editor; a production editor; a writer; an IT manager; an IT consultant... Oh and a combatant in the Meow Wars ;)
     
  17. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    I was in this position several times in my life :(

    First was immediately after uni, when I graduated with a Joint Hons, Ancietn and Modern History...

    I'd originally intended to do my GPCE and teach history - but when I turned 18 both my parents started talking openly in front of me about what teaching was like - one was a teacher, one had been a teacher before becoming a lecturer in a local teacher training college; I decided I didn't actually want to be a zookeeper...:p

    So - what to do? I applied for a temporary job with the old Northern Ireland Office as a motorcycle courier for a year while I sorted my options...and the application form to ride a bike had me list EVERY module of each course semester by semester for all three years of my uni course!

    Later - when applying for an EO2 vacancy in the Civil Service - I just had to give the uni name! :lol:

    Anyway - a couple of years and a medical break (literally!) later, I ended up as an admin assitance in the Civil Service again, counting envelopes all day everyday, in the days when benefit giros were actually stuck into envelopes by machine :p...

    At THAT point, the computer branch I was in was privatised, and I worked myself onto the Service Desk - the main job of the new company then was providing computing services BACK to the Civil Service in N.I.! - and I sponged up as much PC and networking information and learning as I could. THEN my old boss left, and his position was advertised...

    Under one of the sets of criteria was "third level degree"....just that, nothing else, so I asked and was told yes even a history degree was enough - it showed a capability to learn...and I got the job; five years of hell :lol:

    In the end I ended up back as a bike courier - earning MORE money than I ever had managing a Service Desk and a dozen service desk analysts :p

    So THAT'S how much use a History Degree was to me - it got me a really shitty middle-management position in I.T.!!!!! :(
     
    Rich Payne likes this.
  18. saintconor

    saintconor Senior Member

    My dad and cousin both did history Degrees. My dad has a Newsagents and my cousin works in boots. I imagine only a small percentage get a job linked to a history Degree.
     
  19. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    I said I wish I'd done a history degree
    & they said their nephew did one & now manages a community centre.

    The comment , ''What can you do with a history degree anyway apart from becoming a history teacher ?'' was made by my chums.
    I could've mentioned a few examples but didnt as wanted another cuppa tea.

    So I thought I'd ask any members on here that same question.

    ''What can you do with a history degree ?''

    I reckon you wished you'd done a history degree because you
    realise the good mark you would get by simply following one of
    your interests in detail.

    As for the nephew, is he a community centre manager by choice,
    or necessity? Because I would think that the best answer to your
    question is "in what sense?"

    You could become an archeologist. You could drive the story
    of history by uncovering things which have become forgotten.
    But to what extent is that job plausible these days? IS there
    'money' in archeology? Doubt it.

    Or else, you simply use your degree to prove that
    you have the right attributes to do any job you wish.
    It's up to the person taking the degree to decide what
    it can give them. In effect, a history degree shows that
    you are a researcher, first and foremost.

    'Researcher' is a role which can be transferred across many
    industries and in many ways and might end up in the sector
    called 'Project Management'. Profitable in IT, finance sectors etc.

    'Researcher' is a role which can take you into the media and
    end up being a role classed as 'TV Producer' or 'Journalist'...

    'Researcher' can take you where you want, Police Force, Local
    Government, Public Service, Private Sector...

    I'd say it's still a degree with worth and potential.

    Just depends on the person taking it


    "Hot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)"

    [YOUTUBE]FDTWsMaIHLE[/YOUTUBE]
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Was chatting with friends over a cuppa yesterday , talking about their children & relatives who are/were at Uni.
    I said I wish I'd done a history degree & they said their nephew did one & now manages a community centre.
    The comment , ''What can you do with a history degree anyway apart from becoming a history teacher ?'' was made by my chums.
    I could've mentioned a few examples but didnt as wanted another cuppa tea.

    So I thought I'd ask any members on here that same question.

    ''What can you do with a history degree ?''
    Most likely the same as you can with most other Humanities degrees - go and work in a bank, or anywhere else that might require a degree-level education. (Or any other place, depending on whether you feel the need to use the degree level on your list of qualifications)

    I think there's a misunderstanding in that occupation-specific perception of degrees, mate.
    Any degree that's essentially non-vocational is likely as much of a general grounding in 'thought' as in the subject itself.
    I always felt the important part of 'education' is about making connections between things as much as knowing a few things to connect.

    Comparatively few go on to actually use their degrees in a subject-specific way, but hopefully they've been through a process that has improved their analytical ability. A decent history course would maybe have given a grounding in sources of info, different perspectives, who-what-when-where etc. which ought to feed into a fair few non-History related themes, whether the degree was in C20th, Early Modern, Medieval History, or whatever.

    Degrees are quite interesting, as I know a lot of people who are as bright, brighter, more knowledgeable etc. than those who did degrees, but sometimes you can spot where a degree course has polished up certain aspects of 'approach' to a subject.
    It's always interesting watching a mate who's expert on something finally go and do a degree - as no matter how initially cynical, they always seem to have got something out of it, even though they may not have specifically improved their subject knowledge much.

    Personally, I think the whole system's a tad arse-about-face, as I used to sit in tutorials with 18-year-olds who cared not a toss about the subject, but were purely there to 'get a degree', so trying to argue/discuss with them was pointless. Something in me suspects you should go to Uni at 25+ once you've actually found an area you're genuinely interested in (which might perhaps fit with the OU being full of students with a real interest who seem to get very good results).
    The world ain't really wired like that, but I do think there's something in the thought.
    I only took a couple of years out before Uni, but it was still noticeable how differently myself and other somewhat longer-in-the-tooth Students approached things when compared to many of those who were just going through the motions.

    For what it's worth, I did combined History/Politics.
    Many here who know a lot more about either than I do, but I at least picked up a few 'approaches' to both subjects (and other things) which remain with me still.

    Said it to you before, O - I still reckon you'd enjoy an OU degree given your wide poking about in history in general - something sort of fun about learning new ways of looking at things and joining 'em all together.
     

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