Careers for History Majors or "I love to study history but what can I do with that degree?"

Fortunately, the options are far broader than many people think! Indeed, as one of the strong liberal arts disciplines, history provides students with extremely valuable skills that are applicable to a wide range of careers.

1.  Career most closely related to History (Approx. 50% of TWU History Alumni)

  • Secondary and elementary teaching (includes professional training)
  • College and university teaching (after M.A. & Ph.D)
  • Historical research (usually after at least an M.A.)
  • Archival work - public and private archives (graduate programs available)
  • Conservation, historic preservation, museums (some grad programs available)

Success gaining admission to Education professional certification programs. “I learned skills that were transferable to many fields, especially education.  Resourcefulness, researching, formulating a point of view and organizational skills are just a few.” (HIST concentration, 2000)

Success gaining admission to graduate programs.  E.g. into M.A. programs at UBC, Simon Fraser, U of Victoria, U of Toronto, McMaster, Carleton, U of Saskatchewan, U of Alberta, Melbourne, TWU

Other:  National Aviation Museum (contract work): “My research skills and broad knowledge have allowed me to be successful, respected and influential.”  (HIST Minor, 1984)

2.  Other Professions requiring a strong B.A. degree (20-25% of TWU History alumni)

  • Law (law school)
  • Church ministry & missions (often requires seminary)
  • Librarianship (library programs)
  • Public administration (some graduate programs available)
  • Journalism (various routes into the profession)

Experience shows that history students with good grades are very successful in gaining admission to the required professional schools and excelling in those programs and in their chosen careers. E.g. Law schools include:  UBC, U of Saskatchewan, U of Toronto, U of Alberta, Carleton

Lawyer, Calgary “TWU’s History Department prepared me for my future career in that it...provided me with the skill to research issues thoroughly and document events and ideas accurately.  It gave me a basis to begin critical thinking…” (HIST Concentration, 1994)

3.  Careers apparently unrelated to History (25-30% of TWU History alumni)

  • Business
  • Administration
  • Government service
  • Non-profit sector service

Many of our History alumni in these careers speak with enthusiasm about how their history training helped them gain broad knowledge of the world and Important skills which they transferred to other areas of work:

Manager at Canada Space Agency and, more recently, VP of large aviation manufacturer. “The feeling among those who hired me (at Canada Space Agency) was that they wanted  someone who could think,  write, and understand; the job training itself could come later.” (HIST Major, 1991)

Child protection supervisor and real estate. “I clearly attribute much of my career success to  writing skills which were developed while a History major at TWU.” (HIST Major, 1983)

Town councilor, reporter, writer.  “Probably the most helpful thing was learning to do research and to communicate the results of that clearly.” (HIST Major 1981)

Member of Senior Writing Team, major American NGO. “Some of the strengths my  supervisors have commented on are excellent discernment, research skills and organization.” (HIST Major, 1999)

The positive experience of these TWU alumni regarding the usefulness of their transferable skills confirms the findings of many studies.  E.g. “When it comes to skills, firms want employees who can think critically, read and write well, do research, do math, communicate well, learn quickly and work in teams.” Business Council of British Columbia (2000). Millennium Survey  Report.