As with any other major in the liberal arts, history majors face a lot of flak from parents and friends who don’t think they’ll ever be able to find a job. However, majoring in history doesn’t doom you to flipping burgers, and neither are you forced to seek a career completely unrelated to history. A history degree can actually lead to some interesting careers, particularly if you pursue the subject at the graduate level. Here we’ll take a look at some history-related careers for graduates of history programs, outside of teaching at the high school or college level.
- Museum Curators. Museum curators are immersed in history every day on the job. Their responsibilities include oversight of museum collections, which may include anything from rare artwork to historical artifacts, and participating in public service activities and fundraising efforts to promote the museum. Other responsibilities include conducting research on certain artifacts, working to develop permanent collections, arranging for visiting exhibits, and preservation of artifacts. Modern curators are increasingly conceptualizing new and provocative ideas for exhibits in hopes of roping in a broader audience. For instance, a New York Times article on the changing face of museum curators talked about how an exhibit chronicling the work of filmmaker Tim Burton was a big hit with a younger demographic.
- Tour Guides and Trip Leaders. Leading tours and guiding trips for travelers gives you the opportunity to relay historical, geographical, and cultural information to a captive audience, but doesn’t keep you cooped up in a stuffy classroom. As a tour guide, you may lead tours at a specific location, allowing you to amass a great deal of knowledge in one area, or you may lead tours in multiple destinations, allowing you to research unfamiliar destinations on a regular basis. Niche careers may have you leading adventure tours, or even leading tours internationally, allowing you to meet people from around the world and experience the beauty of exotic locales. Some tour guide careers involve hiking, bicycling, and boating or are based out of cruise ships and resorts.
- Special Librarians. Special librarians are information professionals who have an academic background in two areas — library/information science and another specialty area, such as history, law, medicine, or government. Unlike traditional librarians, they don’t really work in school libraries or public libraries. Instead they work in special libraries and information centers owned by museums, government agencies, businesses, hospitals, and other organizations. This allows the librarian to become highly specialized in a particular knowledge area.
- Historic Preservationists. Historic preservationists are responsible for identifying, preserving , protecting, and enhancing historical places, sites, and artifacts, such as buildings and structures, pieces of land, and large and small objects of historical significance. These professionals conduct historic surveys, conduct research into historic places and artifacts, find and apply for grants that aid in historical preservation efforts, prepare architectural descriptions and photos of buildings in historic neighborhoods and other areas, participate in public relations and fundraising, and oversee implementation of educational programs.
- Historical Consultants. Historical consultants help clients who have a niche need involving complex historical research. Some of the services they provide include researching, assembling, and drafting the history of corporations; helping museums, community centers, and historical sites generate exhibit ideas and content; creating streamlined online archives; and expert witness services for litigation purposes.
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