Careers for History Majors

The study of history is not designed simply to teach us quaint and interesting facts about the past, or even to explain how our present world emerged from its murky origins in other times or places. It is a useful subject in ways that students may not always anticipate, but which employers often understand, and which our alumni can explain best. There is no single path that carries history undergraduates directly to one chosen career, but many ways in which skills learned in the study of the past can be translated into the enterprises of the present.

History always involves asking how we can make sense of complex situations in which the relation between origins and results, intentions and consequences, is not immediately evident, and in which we have to search near and far for the answers to our questions. That kind of openness to research and awareness of the complexity of events is exactly what decision-making in business, government, law, journalism, and other fields often requires.

History is also very much about the use of language--whether we are writing our own or reading others'--and skills of intelligent reading and lucid writing remain in demand throughout our society. Historians have to learn how to write narratives that others can follow; they not only have to know why something happened, but to be able to describe it plainly and clearly. And they have to read critically, not only to follow arguments but to measure the distance between the purposes of an author and the meaning of his text.

Jack Rakove, William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies

Jack Rakove, William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies


  • Business Manager - Actors Project
  • College Recruiter - Software Company
  • Sales Analyst - Transportation Company
  • Manager - Import/Export Firm
  • VP - Real Estate Finance Company
  • Account Officer - Commercial Real Estate
  • Director of Marketing - Insurance Firm
  • President - Securities Firm
  • Systems Manager - Commercial Bank
  • Production Designer - Production Company
  • Development Assistant - Discovery Communications, Inc.
  • Sorbet Manufacturer
  • Cellular Phone Magnate
  • Management Consultant


  • Financial Analyst - Investment Bank
  • Analyst - Financial Institution
  • Auditor - Commercial Bank


  • United States Senator (Dianne Feinstein)
  • Legislative Analyst - U.S. Congressman
  • Foreign Service Officer - State Department
  • Public Affairs Fellow - Federal Government Agency
  • Lieutenant - United States Military
  • CA State Treasurer (Kathleen Brown)


  • Job Developer/Interpreter - Disability Resource Center
  • Associate Director of Development - University
  • Associate of Marketing - University
  • Founder/Music Chairperson - Arts Foundation


  • Judicial Clerk - U.S. District Court
  • Attorney - Corporate Law Firm
  • General Counsel - Computer Firm


  • History Professor - University
  • Teacher - Elementary School
  • Teacher and History Department Chair - Day School
  • Director - Children and Trauma Education Network
  • Director of Admissions - High School


  • Associate Editor - Environmental Magazine
  • Editorial Assistant - Art News Magazine
  • Publisher - Monthly Legal Periodical
  • Publisher - Wine Magazine
  • Chairman - Test Publisher
  • Romance Novelist
  • Director of Research - Public Radio
  • Sportswriter - Sacramento Bee