Students with a interest in history can occasionally feel discouraged by the emphasis on STEM subjects. The perception that only studying those subjects will lead to a successful career can dissuade students from choosing a non-STEM career path.

As teachers, you know the most important thing is to encourage pupils to discover which path they want to take, and offer them as much support and encouragement as possible. With that in mind, here are some examples of career paths for history students.

Working in heritage

It’s quite common for history students to work in the field of heritage, whether this is as a manager, inspector, curator, or exhibitions officer. For students with a particular interest in cultural heritage and history, these roles provide ample opportunities to develop and protect the legacy of an area.

These roles also bring in other skills such as commercial fundraising, budgeting, and project management. While some perceive working in heritage as all about living in the past, successful heritage workers are responsible for making the past relevant.

Graduates with degrees in history, heritage, information services, and business-related subjects are amongst those who succeed in these roles.

English Heritage has further information about what to expect when choosing a career in this sector.

Becoming teachers or researchers

Students with an interest in research can go on to further this interest by becoming teachers, lecturers, or researchers within university.

These paths require further study in the form of teaching qualifications or post-graduate qualifications, but have good earning potential and career progression opportunities. These sorts of roles require a passion for history and an ability to translate lessons learned from the past into ideas that could shape the future.

Joining the civil service

As with all career paths, skills learned in history and other subjects can be transferred into other areas. A popular sector for history graduates remains the civil service, as applicants can take advantage of various fast-track schemes that are open to degree-holders.

Studying history hones critical reasoning and analytical skills, along with an appreciation of different viewpoints and strategies. These, amongst others, are skills which would be useful in the civil service.

Business degrees including in business administration and business studies will be of benefit, although non-graduates can enter as junior staff members and work their way up.

Working with archives

Archives are precious things, ranging from papers, maps, and plans through to films and computer-generated records. Maintaining archives is pivotal in numerous sectors, especially local government and academia.

Working with archives is generally about more than simply preservation. Successful archivists acquire new collections and organise them effectively for access by relevant individuals and bodies. It is varied work, well suited to those with an interest in maintaining links with the past.

In order to succeed in this field, students will need to have high quality voluntary or paid experience in the sector. This can be obtained through direct contact with relevant organisations prior to applying for a place on a postgraduate training course.

Most archivist positions will require a postgraduate qualification recognised by the Archives and Records Association.

Information officers

An information officer can encompass various roles over numerous sectors, including education, financial, health, legal, and scientific. It will involve IT and research skills, linking directly to the types of information gathering that effective history students are so adept at.

Thanks to the variation in industries, working as an information officer can include a myriad of responsibilities including cataloguing, collating, and classifying data, as well as ensuring user education on the information held. It can be rewarding and varied role within many spheres.

To work as an information officer, students will generally need a specific qualification accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals following completion of an undergraduate degree.