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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.

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 graduates go on to do?

Here’s what history graduates who finished their degrees in 2017 were doing six months after graduating, according to the What do graduates do? report published in 2018.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment in the UK 39.6
Part-time employment in the UK 11.9
Working overseas 2.2
Working and studying 6.9
Further study 27.5
Unemployed 5.7
Other 6.3

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Key areas of employment for fresh history graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2017 history graduates six months after graduation, according to the 2018 What do graduates do? report.

Areas of employment Percentage
Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff 18.5
Business, HR and finance professionals 16.9
Marketing, PR and sales professionals 12.9
Clerical, secretarial and numerical clerks 11.8
Other occupations 10.1

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

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 Trendence UK, 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

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.

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