Visualizing the Careers of America’s History Majors

Few historians have worked more creatively with digital tools as Ben Schmidt of Northeastern University. Earlier this year, for example, he took educational data from the American Community Survey (ACS — an ongoing project of the U.S. Census) and created a striking visualization of what college majors led to what careers.

Go to Schmidt’s personal website to see the entire map of all majors. But here’s let reproduce the map of History majors:

Visualization of the career paths taken by History majors
Ben Schmidt’s remarkable visualization of the career paths taken by America’s history majors – benschmidt.org

(Click through to the actual map and you can get specific figures for all sorts of majors and careers.)

Or if you prefer top ten lists… Here are the most common careers for America’s history majors:

  1. Lawyers, judges, etc., 15.7%
  2. Elementary/middle school teachers, 11.1%
  3. Managers, 5.9%
  4. Secondary school teachers, 4.8%
  5. Postsecondary teachers, 4.6%
  6. Educational administrators, 3.4%
  7. Retail supervisors, 2.9%
  8. Chief executives and legislators, 2.4%
  9. Accountants/auditors and administrative assistants, tied at 2.1%
  10. Sales representatives (wholesale and manufacturing), 2.0%

Just missing the cut… 1.9% of History majors become financial managers, 1.8% members of the clergy, and 1.7% physicians or surgeons.

It’s not surprising that law tops the list. While our own alumni surveys have placed that career path far back of those in business and education, nationwide History is the second most common major for those in legal careers — well behind #1 Political Science/Government.

(See also Schmidt’s visualization of the changing popularity of various majors since the late 1960s.)

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