Martha Isabel Rocha
For many college graduates, the thrill of the first job seems to be good fortune coming all at once. However, students with history degrees might have to look even harder.
Events, personalities, discoveries and continuing mysteries are endlessly fascinating for students in the history department, but as graduation gets closer, job prospects may seem unattainable.
History department undergraduate adviser Guadalupe San Miguel said, "A history major is an exciting one. But some (students) may have nagging questions on what to do with a major in history."
"I still don't know what I'm going to do," said history major Iman Ahmed. "The main message given is to become a teacher, and that way you'll be guaranteed a job."
Not including teaching, there are four main areas of employment for students with history degrees, according to Great Jobs for History Majors: non-classroom education, curator or archivist positions, information specialization and business administration/management.
History majors who want to teach in a non-classroom environment can do so by working for museums or for outdoor environmental exhibits, including nature trails and aquatic centers.
Non-classroom education focuses on specific periods in history, people, architecture or environmental domains. Work conditions require employees to give public presentations, do research, write and collaborate with others.
The hours can be irregular and the job demands continuing education - and non-classroom jobs can be versatile and unpredictable.
Entry-level salaries vary, but those in the field can expect to start at about $24,000 or less.
Students with degrees in history can also work in curatorial and archival management. Curators are engaged in operating exhibits, while archivists identify and preserve records.
Another path to consider is becoming an information specialist, a career that usually leads to work for the government, libraries, publishers or research centers.
The business sector offers opportunities to those with history degrees. Students can find jobs in management because their analytical, research and data-collection skills can be used in positions like program directors, production assistants, development specialists and loan officers.
What to do with a history major does not have to be a worry as long as students keep looking for alternatives to make the most of their degrees.
"Many jobs listed require additional knowledge, experience and/or degrees," San Miguel said.