Only a small percentage of history majors go on to be historians; most go on, instead, to become lawyers, librarians, businesspersons, writers, archivists, researchers, teachers, politicians, and even entertainers. Leaders in every industry, from business to the arts, can point to their training as history majors as the starting point for their success. Below is a brief examination of the sorts of skills developed by the study of history and various career options available to history majors. By examining the varieties of approaches historians use, the discussion below seeks to identify the advantages of historical study in fostering well-rounded intellectual development as well as developing valuable career skills in research, writing, argumentation, and documentation.
What are the skills one learns as a historian?
One of the key ways of thinking about what a history major prepares you to pursue after graduation is to focus on the skills one acquires as a history student. These include:
- Effective writing skills- vital to any job for which a college degree is a necessity, effective writing means the ability to successfully and precisely communicate one's ideas in text.
- Critical analysis skills- vital to the decision-making process for any job, critical analysis means the ability to analyze a situation and come up with creative and practical solutions.
- Research skills- vital to any job, research skills mean the ability to understand past practices and policies and to trace the roots of any issues, to find new information which bears on the issue, and to incorporate that information into one's analysis of an issue.
- Interdisciplinary thinking and training- vital to any position, interdisciplinary thinking and training means the ability to think about a problem in a multitude of ways, to analyze it using multiple tools, and to provide solutions which draw from different traditions of thoughts.
- Curiosity and inquisitiveness- vital to any position, curiosity and inquisitiveness means the desire to learn more and to continue learning, to examine reasons beneath issues, and to come to understand them as part of a continual, life-long, education process.