History has something for everyone; by it’s very nature its scope is huge. If someone says they don’t like history, or they don’t find it interesting I find it anathema. History is full of stories, riddles, interesting people and events to discover. So when I see people working away at their subject I feel a little bit guilty because I spend my day reading and researching stories and their place in the past, the fact that they’re (mostly) true notwithstanding.
Despite saying all this the subject is not walk in the park. It’s a lot of work to find out all the ins and outs you need to know, to discover why things happened the way they did, how they happened, the effects of it and how to get that all down in a coherent way so somebody else can understand what you’re trying to say. The reading to do all this can sometimes get a little intense, and you’ll often see history students surrounded by dozens of books in a quiet place trying to find head-or-tail of the case they’re trying to prove or detail.
To be a historian you need a lot of skills, you need to be able to sort the truth from a lot of rubbish, to be able to communicate effectively, to be analytical and to be open minded. For these reasons the world is your oyster with a history degree, unless you want to study medicine or law, there are lots of career options open from teaching, to sales, to finance (yes, really), to management, to the armed forces… the list is genuinely endless, which is why I guess it irks me so much when people automatically assume you want to go into a teaching if you study history. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with teaching, but there are a lot of other options.