I'm currently at a community college with my general ed, and undergraduate units for a major in History ready to transfer to a university. But think more and more about my choice, I'm certain of my interest in the subject, but question my path after graduation. If I'll get my masters, and become a educator. Fulfilling my desire to be a mentor, and teach the subject which inspired me, or joining the corporate job market to acquire wealth and develop more skills.

What kind of person am I if I get a History Degree?

What jobs are available for a History Degree?

Am I setting myself up for success?

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     The Liberal Arts, or a classical education, were intended to train a man to think freely and be a competent citizen-soldier. "Liber" in latin translates to "free" in english. In other words, it was the essential skills that were important for a free man and unnecessary for a slave. Logic was studied as a foundation for critical thinking, grammar and rhetoric were studied to articulate, debate and defend ideas. Music, arithmetic, geometry, and celestial observation were arts considered necessary to function in almost any role.  So, it's an education in the purest meaning of the word. It's different from TRAINING.

     Traditionally, a man would be first educated, then trained in a profession - this is law or medical school, or architecture, etc. You really aren't technically a "professional" unless you can be sued for malpractice. Modern society, however, considers trained businessmen to be professionals as well.

    Were I you, I'd get educated then trained in a profession, or educated then launch a business of my own. A liberal arts degree is certainly empowering, but it must be complimented with training.

Muir is correct.  Bluntly put, too many people confuse college/university with a trade school, and then are disappointed when the real world isn't replete with careers in their degree field.  

By the way, it should be noted that Henry David Thoreau received an excellent Liberal Arts education at Harvard.  His most regular post collegiate employment was making pencils for his father's company.  Anybody really remember him as a pencil maker?  

+1 to Rick Shelton.  My uncle got a business degree.  He's a VP in a huge corporation.  Doesn't mean if you get an MBA you can be a VP.  Mostly likely now, MBA is just a sales jobs.

+1 to John Muir

Oh, one thing I'd add - attain TRUE FLUENCY in a second language. This is incredibly powerful on a resume. Chinese or Arabic are high demand, but TRUE FLUENCY in any second language will bring offers to you. Even Spanish. I've gotten half the gigs I have just because I can speak spanish. The degree, unless built upon, just says "I'm trainable and can work at a long-term goal. I can string a sentence together" - couple that with a language, and people will train you. Couple it with a language AND training, and you're unstoppable

I'm getting pretty good at Chinese, but I live in Taiwan.

Arabic is a HUGELY valuable language and can make you tons of money in the right places.  You could do stuff for the military or FBI as well.  The only problem is that very, very few people can attain fluency studying it in their own country.  It will be hard to get fluent in Arabic even with a native tutor if you live in America.  And if you go to an Arabic speaking country for 5 or 6 years to become fluent, then the DOD might have their suspicions about you.  I think that's the catch-22 of the language game with Arabic.  Most of those jobs will get taken by first-generation Americans with pro-American sentiments immigrating from Arabic-speaking countries.

But languages are a demonstrable skillset, which is way, way, WAY better than any general field like history.  Once you have a language you can prove your competence and impress your employer in about 5 minutes of speaking/writing it.

Another challenge is that Arabic is not a singular, monolithic language. I picked up some basic Levantine-style Arabic but my accent and slang is Lebanese. It would be useless in Egypt and North Africa. Your best bet is to learn classical Arabic which could be used in places like Egypt and Arabian Peninsula and then pick a speciality based on your field of work: Maghrebian, Levantine, Peninsular, etc.

I read the comments before reading the OP. I would have thought the Op asked about what/how to get foreign language experience.

What kind of person am I if I get a History Degree? 

A person who is passionate about history.

What jobs are available for a History Degree?

All kinds but history is usually a base that should be complemented with other skills or credentials. For example, you could teach but that would require a background or credentials in education (unless you simply stay in post-secondary academia). You could write but you'd need to develop writing skills. You could probably work in a museum or research institute but you would need skills in curation or research. A lot of these are complementary skills that you might pick up throughout your journey towards your PHD in history or they might be things you'll need to get after the fact. But it's just like any other degree; a degree in accounting can make you an accountant, a degree in law can make you a lawyer but, realistically, there are loads of things that people with accounting and law degrees do beyond just being accountants and lawyers. It's all about the complementary skills and experience that they have to offer beyond their degrees and formal education. 

Am I setting myself up for success?

That depends on your definition of success. Are there millions to be made in the field of history? Run a Google search to see how many millionaire historians there are out there. It doesn't look good. But is spending your lifetime working in your field of passion a form of success even though your neighbours might make more money that you? Certainly, if that's how you define success. 

Thanks for you feedback


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