Degree subjects

What can I do with a history degree?

6 Feb 2023, 12:42

Find out about the skills developed by studying for a history degree and explore the range of career paths open to history graduates, from law to marketing.

what to do with a history degree

History graduates have strong analytical and communication skills which can be put to good use in careers in business, finance, HR and law. They tend to be naturally suited to careers as museum or art gallery curators, or in academia or education.

Skills for your CV

Some other skills you should have picked up include:

  • good oral and written communication
  • ability to put together a logical argument
  • critical thinking
  • objectivity regarding ‘right’ and ‘wrong’
  • gathering, investigating and assessing material
  • condensing or expanding facts, ideas and arguments
  • using different types of sources to cross-reference
  • basing conclusions on statistical research
  • organising material in a logical and coherent way
  • presenting information literally, orally and visually
  • an interest in culture
  • an ability to spot a train of events

Job roles and career areas you could work in

With additional qualifications or training, history graduates could be well suited to the following job roles:

What do history and philosophy graduates go on to do?

Here’s what graduates of historical and philosophical studies who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 47
Part-time employment 11
Voluntary or unpaid work 3
Working and studying 11
Further study 13
Unemployed 6

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for history and philosophy graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 historical and philosophical graduates around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Education 19
Professional, scientific and technical 11
Wholesale and retail trade 11
Public administration and defence 8

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract history and philosophy students?

The public sector was the most popular career choice for students of history and philosophy identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by targetjobs. Just under a tenth ( 8% ) of history and philosophy students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of history and philosophy were as follows:

Career Percentage
Public sector 8% expressed an interest
Law – Barristers 7.3
Media and advertising 6.5
Law – Solicitors 6.4
Banking, insurance and financial services 3.8

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can history graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided targetjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with history degrees

What's more, there are plenty of people who have taken their history degree in a different direction. Consider the following famous people:

  • Sacha Baron Cohen – the actor and comedian studied at the University of Cambridge.
  • Prince Charles – was the first British heir to the throne to complete a university degree; he read history, archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
  • Jonathan Ross – studied modern European history before pursuing a career as a TV presenter, actor and comedian.
  • Al Murray – the comedian and TV personality read modern history at the University of Oxford.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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