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Careers in History

History is very practical, because it involves:


Learning about people - how they interact, the motives and emotions that can tear people apart into rival factions or help them to work together for a common cause.

Learning about countries, societies and cultures - so many of today's conflicts and alliances have their roots in the past; how can you negotiate with, trade successfully with, or report on a country if you know nothing of its history?

Learning to locate and sift facts - to identify truth and recognise myth, propaganda and downright lies.

Presenting what you've learned in a way that makes sense to others - whether in graphs, essays or illustrated reports - and having the confidence to defend your findings.

All these skills are valuable in a whole range of jobs. So instead of only looking at ‘careers in history' you could also look at careers where it will help a lot if you've studied history.


The decisions you take when it comes to planning a career will be affected by a lot of factors, such as:


1. Your other favourite subjects and interests - for example:


History plus Art could lead to work in a gallery.

History plus Craft skills could develop into a career in restoration work.

History plus Leisure & Tourism could help you find work in the heritage industry - Stately homes, theme parks, etc.

History plus Drama could help you find a role as a costumed guide or re-enactor.

History plus administration skills (e.g. Word Processing, Accountancy, Business Management) could lead to you gaining experience in a variety of business careers then taking this, and your interest in history, into working for a heritage charity, or a historic property.


2. Which aspect of history fascinates you most, for example:


If your greatest thrill is sharing your knowledge with others, then maybe you should consider working in a museum or as a teacher / TA.


If you're fascinated by the records of the past, the documents that open a window into how people lived and worked, and how towns and villages evolved over the centuries, then maybe you should investigate work in a Records Office or perhaps train as a librarian specialising in local history.


So how might you combine a love of history with a career?


Below are some suggestions - together with web sites which will help you find out much more.


First, it might be worth noting that some jobs can take you anywhere. A lot of people go into secretarial, clerical, administrative and IT jobs. One of the reasons that so many people take this kind of work to begin with is that it gets them inside the doors of a whole range of employers. Once in, they can increase their work-based skills and are in a good position to show off their abilities and take advantage of any career moves that may come up. Secretarial, administrative, clerical and IT staff are needed by heritage charities, museums, heritage sites/stately homes, companies dealing with conservation and restoration, the media and practically every company and office you can think of.


For more specific career directions, you could investigate:


Museums and Galleries: Jobs exist at many levels and in many areas, such as support roles. Jobs which may offer a chance for learning on the job - will be things like information assistants, box office attendants, shop and café staff. People with practical skills will be needed in the exhibitions department; those with design skills may also be needed here, and in the production of leaflets etc.

A good site to visit is Museum Jobs.com to get an idea of the range of museum jobs on offer.


Heritage sites/Historic Houses: Any major heritage site will have a huge range of jobs, from the Property Manager at the top and down through many ranks of support staff. The National Trust manages or owns a large number of heritage sites, not only historic buildings but also vast grounds which will require traditional agricultural and horticultural management. Jobs available will include administrators, conservators, wardens, housekeeping staff, visitor information and ticket-selling staff, shop and café staff, gardeners. In addition the Trust has regional offices, which will include the usual range of office staff, and also education staff, personnel management, press and public relations people etc. Full details of National Trust vacancies can be found on their website.


Record Offices and Archives: These are a tremendous resource for people interested in history, whether national, local or simply of their own family or home. They also provide job opportunities for people who love history and get on well with people, because record offices and archives don't just keep documents safe, they make information available.


Horticulture and Nature Conservation: If you like practical outdoor work, gardening can combine very nicely with an interest in history. There are job opportunities for people with horticultural qualifications and/or experience to work on the gardens of many historic properties, whether owned by heritage organisations, individuals, or councils. Sometimes this involves restoring a historic garden or park to its former glory, following planting patterns laid down a century or more before. Nature conservation can also link very well with history, as so much of England's countryside has been shaped by the history of its agriculture.


The Police also have quite a warm attitude towards history; studying history means studying people, cultures and societies; the research skills gained in such studies might be particularly useful in some of the ‘back room' support staff jobs which involve analysis of the patterns of certain crimes, for example. To get an idea of the range of careers within the police force, check out their careers website.