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Old 01-14-2009, 02:01 PM
 
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I'm looking around to go to graduate school for history, and I'm narrowing down my selection. I'd like to go to school in a state that has a good job market, but I'm in the dark as to which states are best.

Of course there are those who say one will never find a job with a history degree, but recent articles are showing that liberal arts majors are actually better off than most, so let's get that out of the way.

I looked around on Google, but couldn't seem to find any place that had ranked good states for history grads to find jobs, just general job information.

I'm betting that the best states for a history student or grad to find work in a history-related field would be along the East Coast somewhere, maybe down South, too. My guess would be that the best states would be Virginia or Maryland, as a lot of history happened in those states, there's a lot of population with disposable income (and thus better markets for museums, research projects, etc.) and they are close to D.C. THe Boston area would seem like a good fit as well, but it's a little too cold for my tastes unless it has a hell of a job market.

So if I'm aiming to find work either as a history teacher, doing museum work, or preferably some sort of historical research for some sort of institution, where would be the best state for me to investigate?

I appreciate any responses and help that could be given!
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:44 AM
 
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It's been a while so I thought I'd up this and see if anyone new has anything to add to it. I'm still curious about what states or areas are best for recent history grads. Thanks!
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:45 AM
 
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Philadelphia
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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Now, is this just a guess on your part (a lot of history did happen in Philly) or do you know specifically that there are history jobs available?
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:06 AM
 
5,858 posts, read 14,044,713 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
I'm looking around to go to graduate school for history, and I'm narrowing down my selection. I'd like to go to school in a state that has a good job market, but I'm in the dark as to which states are best.

Of course there are those who say one will never find a job with a history degree, but recent articles are showing that liberal arts majors are actually better off than most, so let's get that out of the way.

I looked around on Google, but couldn't seem to find any place that had ranked good states for history grads to find jobs, just general job information.

I'm betting that the best states for a history student or grad to find work in a history-related field would be along the East Coast somewhere, maybe down South, too. My guess would be that the best states would be Virginia or Maryland, as a lot of history happened in those states, there's a lot of population with disposable income (and thus better markets for museums, research projects, etc.) and they are close to D.C. THe Boston area would seem like a good fit as well, but it's a little too cold for my tastes unless it has a hell of a job market.

So if I'm aiming to find work either as a history teacher, doing museum work, or preferably some sort of historical research for some sort of institution, where would be the best state for me to investigate?

I appreciate any responses and help that could be given!
I'd add MN to your list. We have a very strong state historical society, and compred to other states, MN has more private foundation grant money up for grabs for organizations doing cultural things. In St Paul, there is a History Theater, and there are tons of state owned historical sites throughout the state. The population here is highly educated and incomes are above average, particularly in the Twin Cities. When the economy turns around, discretionary funds should loosen up.
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:10 AM
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Location: Ohio
16,822 posts, read 33,206,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
So if I'm aiming to find work either as a history teacher,
If you're Spanish-bilingual and certified to teach, the school districts in Texas would be fighting over you. Without the bilingual angle, you'll be competing hard for a teaching job in Texas.
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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I disagree about MN, actually - MHS is top-rate (they operate most, although not all, of the historic sites in the state), but they've cut a lot of jobs, and it's very, very difficult to get a museum job in MN right now. (believe me, I speak from experience)

I think you're looking at this the wrong way. You need to figure out exactly what it is that you want to do, or at least have some general idea, before starting the application process. Many top history programs won't accept terminal MA candidates, and many museums are going to be reluctant to hire someone with a history MA but no direct relevant experience. If you want a museum job you need to focus more closely on what you want to do within the museum field (curator? educator? administrator? something else?) and find the right program. The right school does not have to be in the state or region where you work, especially if you go with a program with strong alumni connections and name recognition throughout the country. (the Cooperstown program, based in NY, seems to have a lot of grads working in MN, for example.) I've hired people for museum jobs and just a MA in history would not in itself be enough to even get you an interview for many positions.

Every state has a lot of history. Every state has museums, schools, historical societies, etc. The DC area does have a lot of opportunities, but also a lot of competition. For that area consider schools like William and Mary and GW.

And not to sound too down about this, but there are not many public history jobs open right now. To up your chances of success you will need to be willing to move anywhere for a job. Many sites have frozen hiring or have laid people off, and it's going to take years to recover. (keep in mind that the field was competitive to begin with even before the economy tanked) By all means stick with your dream if it's what you want to do, but make sure you know what you're doing in advance. Have you asked your professors for help? If you don't want a job in academia make sure you also ask people working in the field for their advice. If you're thinking of a job in the public history field you should be doing internships now. I've seen job applicants from people with PhDs but no actual experience who expect to land curatorial jobs at historic sites - don't let this be you. I think some of the problems stem from professors who know what they're doing as far as history and as far as the university system goes, but don't know how the public history field varies.

What are your potential schools, if you don't mind sharing? Is your list set? Your needs are really going to be different depending on what you want to do post-graduation, so you should reevaluate your list with your target goal in mind. Go with program and not location, unless you have one dream location in mind for other reasons and want to start building contacts there. Otherwise the location of the school won't matter nearly as much as what it offers. Some of the best programs are in states or locations you might not otherwise consider.

One other thing to think about; depending on your program you may also be able to do fellowships or internships in the summer. If you were to, say, go to Cooperstown for school but still have your heart set on working in DC post-graduation, you could try to get a fellowship or internship there during the summer. Some places have formal programs set up, and even help their students find affordable housing. You could still do something along the same lines if you were to go to school in one place but focus your thesis research on another geographic region. There are ways to network with various regions while still in school that don't require you to live there full-time.

Last edited by uptown_urbanist; 07-21-2009 at 01:21 PM..
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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I just wanted to add that some of the best places for a history grad to find a job (in the public history field, anyway) or the places in the middle of nowhere; there's less competition, they're willing to take a risk on new graduates (out of necessity), and they (at least the professional ones) realize that there's a good chance they'll have to hire someone from outside the area. If you're single, don't mind an adventure, and can afford to take the risk these can be great opportunities. You can quickly build up a resume at these sorts of jobs. The downside is that you can feel isolated from the larger historical community, but you can counteract that by attending conferences like those offered by AASLH (the best organization out there for any would-be public history employee, I think - American Association of State and Local History. Join today if you're not already a member; it's worth it.) Do you know about Museum-L? It's a free museum listserv. Google it and sign up for a subscription.

And one final note on income; while those at the top level (or in government jobs) can do well (not rolling in money, but respectable) the public history field is not known for being one of the more lucrative fields out there. Keep that in mind as you choose your school. I would strongly advice not going in debt (or much debt) to get an advanced degree. Go somewhere where they pay you, or at the least where they'll give you enough TAships, etc., to cover your costs. I should also note that I've worked for museums in a variety of states, and have applied for jobs in many more, and in general the pay doesn't vary as much as you would think by location; a job in a place like NYC should pay far more than a job in a small town in Virginia, but that's not necessarily the case.
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Old 07-21-2009, 07:06 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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In my case I might be in luck then as a history guy working on his Master's. I generally want to live in a town of under 50,000 that's over 50 miles away from a large city.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:48 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
34,673 posts, read 33,676,768 times
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I cannot tell you about work but I have found since moving to Tennessee (not too far from Kentucky), having lived in NY, MD and briefly DC the rest of my life, the South has an appreciation for history that I haven't seen anyplace else. Since I moved here less than 3 years ago, I have been to more living history events, re-enactments and events with a cultural history theme (all within a three hour drive) than I have the entire rest of my life. And surprisingly, I have yet to go to a Civil War re-enactment. Plus, I know more about the history of my town (WWII related) and county (coal mining, civil rights, TVA, Appalachian) than any other place I have ever lived. My state is divided into 3 regions with distinct musical histories (west for blues and the birth of rock and roll, middle for country western and the Grand Ole Opry, and east for bluegrass). Another art you don't see up north is storytelling. That's a big part of Appalachian and Native American culture and you can attend storytelling events here. I wish you luck with your work quest but I think if you lived in the South, you'd find an appreciation for tradition and US history, you don't see as much of, up north. There is a pride here in the past.
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