Becoming a historian is not often a great education/degree to enter the work force.  With just an associate there are very few choices. If you get a bachelor’s degree the career field opens up to teachers or even substitute teaching.  If you go on and get a master’s degree then the career field opens up more again. You can more easily land a job within your school district. Not only is it easier to find a job but the pay is better with a Masters degree. The Master’s degree could allow a teacher to get a college level job.  The job will usually be in the community colleges and will be specifically in the degree field in which you chose to get your degree.

These community college jobs often don’t pay well until one becomes a full time professors. Often colleges stay away from full time employment because they save money by hiring part time teachers.

On NPR, one teacher that has a Master’s degree in writing reported after 20 years of being an adjunct professor she currently makes $17,000-$21000.  

Is it worth getting a Phd? It is hard to say. Even at a Phd level universities might try to keep you as an adjunct professor whose pay would be similar to the writing professors pay.  

If you do get a full time job the pay increases tremendously. A full time professor’s salary is then $72,000 to $160,000.  Quite a difference. Those full time faculty jobs might only be open to Phd candidates.

Employment in the private sector may be hard to find, but any graduate can get his or her foot in the door and then move up the corporate ladder.  It all depends on one’s ambition.

One can choose to go to law school, counseling school, social work school, or Psychologist school.  Or they can pursue the Master’s or Phd in history. Which may or not be a a great idea. It’s a decision one has to make.   

If you want your Phd I would say stay far away from any online schools.  Get your Phd from a highly respected University. It will count a great deal when finding that dream job.

Steps to becoming a History major:

  1. Starts with an associate degree as do almost all degrees.
  2. Choose your Bachelors which in this case we are choosing history.
  3. Choose to get a Masters in history, or go to a professional school. For instance Law School, Social work MSW, or Psychologist.
  4. Maybe choose the Phd and go after that dream job of teaching and becoming a historian at a University or Community college.

In this same NPR article a professor at a community college of 50 years says he makes minimum wage.  Rex Ramsier the Vice Provost of University of Akron says “If we simply tried to staff every course with full-time faculty that have full benefits, the cost of higher education at any institution would go up 30 to 40 percent potentially. The public’s not going to accept that.”

Q & A With Charlie Miller

Charlie Miller

How much will I make starting out?

This differs depending uponn where you live.  Teacher Unions tend to be docile. If the colleges keep you from becoming full time they can pay you peanuts as long as they can get away with it.   

It’s really up in the air. It’s a gamble.  If becoming History major is your dream you might go for the long haul and get that Phd.  Otherwise professional schools are always a good choice or one can join the workforce right after the Bachelor’s and start building a career early.

How much Does a Historian degree pay?

While the above stories make it sound scary to continue on the history degree path, the BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics says that average pay of a teacher is around $57,000 in the elementary public school  levels.  High school level teaching-is paid at an average of 59,000.

What made you choose history?

I knew I was going to study history in fourth grade once I learned how the Ancient Egyptian’s would mummify their royalty.

Have you found  that it has made you a great or bad job candidate?

I never had a problem with my major and jobs. As for as I was concerned, getting a job was all about the intangibles. For example, was I knowledgeable about the company, was I prepared for the interview, did I followup with appropriate Thank You notes? Always. How did I get the interviews in the first place? Sometimes I would call the CEO at 6am; their secretary was not a work and the bosses always answered the phones at that hour.

How did you like using this degree in the private sector? How about in private?

History teaches you numerous skills: research; writing; analysis; as well as content. When I was in sales, I knew how to research my customers so I could meet their needs. When I was on the Hill I knew how to research and write reports for the boss. In private, I’m able to contextualize and understand our social, economic, and political national and world environment. When someone claims to tell me about “how it really is,” I know better.

You now teach, was that a hit to your pay check or not so bad?

A brutal hit to my paycheck. Although, the degree was not the cause of my salary decrease; I have two Master’s degrees too. It’s the market that is to blame for my salary hit, teaches are not considered a valuable resources.

Have you been happy with your career?

I have enjoyed my (various) careers: Congressional staffer, sales in Healthcare, archaeologist, university administrator, college/university and high school teacher. It’s all been good.

Would you have changed anything?

Like everyone who read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I wanted to be an attorney just like Atticus. Later I thought about constitutional law. In retrospect, would I have changed my history degree to something else? No! A history degree teaches one to think critically and analytically as well as being a knowledgeable about the world. While I was an administrator, I directed college academic advising offices. I had history students successfully pursue the following fields: law, business (stock broker, entrepreneur, sales), teaching, nonprofit, medicine, and governmental work. I’m glad I have my degrees in history.