Where can History take you?

More and more students are opting to study GCSE History, and some will go on to study it at A Level and beyond. The most frequent question we are asked as a department is, ‘What can I do with History A Level or a History degree?’ Students often think it will lead to a teaching career, but that is not the only option, and we hope the following will help you identify a career path using your History qualification. 

History is a great subject to study because it involves:

  • Learning about people – how they interact, the motives and emotions that can tear people apart into rival factions or help them to work together for a common cause.
  • Learning about countries, societies and cultures – so many of today’s conflicts and alliances have their roots in the past; how can you negotiate with, trade successfully with, or report on a country if you know nothing of its history?
  • Learning to locate and sift facts – to identify truth and recognise myth, propaganda, and ‘fake news’.
  • Presenting what you have learned in a way that makes sense to others – whether in graphs, essays or illustrated reports – and having the confidence to defend your findings.

All these skills are valuable in a whole range of jobs.

The decisions you take when it comes to planning a career will be affected by lots of factors, such as:

  1. Your other favourite subjects and interests:

For example:

  • History plus Art could lead to work in a gallery or auction house (perhaps via an Art History degree, though there are also opportunities for non-graduates) or you might want to become an architect or architectural technician.
  • History plus a keen interest in politics could lead you into a whole range of career directions – local or national politics, charity work, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, or the Civil Service.
  • History plus Media Studies could lead into print or broadcast journalism.
  • History plus Leisure & Tourism could help you find work in the heritage industry (Stately homes, etc.).
  • History plus Drama/Theatre Studies could help you find a role as a costumed guide or re-enactor.
  • History plus administration skills could lead to you gaining experience in a variety of business careers then taking this, and your interest in history, into working for a heritage charity, or managing a historic property.
  1. Whether you want to get a job straight after leaving school…

…or go on to a training scheme, apprenticeship, further education or higher (degree level) education.

You may of course decide to mix and match – study part time and work part time, get some useful work experience during your gap year, begin a career which may give you a chance of training on the job.

Whatever you think might be your future career direction, it’s always a good idea to get some insight through Work Experience or Working as a Volunteer. When looking at career opportunities, will also give you some sources of information for work experience and volunteering.

  1. Which aspect of history fascinates you most?

For example:

  • You’re excited by the idea of learning about the past from artefacts and fragments left behind – then maybe archaeology is for you.
  • If your greatest thrill is sharing your knowledge with others, then maybe you should consider working in a museum or as a teacher.
  • If you’re fascinated by the records of the past, the documents that open a window into how people lived and worked, and how towns and villages evolved over the centuries, then maybe you should investigate work as an archivist, in a Records Office or perhaps train as a librarian specialising in local history.

The following website links will also give more guidance and information:

Career opportunities with a history degree (Jobs.ac.uk)

What can I do with my degree in History (Prospects.ac.uk)

What can you do with a History Degree? (Topuniversities)

What can you do with a History Degree? (Allaboutcareers.com)