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What can I do with my history degree? - VERY long - sorry!

(21 Posts)
LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 09-Sep-09 12:57:01

OK, bit of background. Moved from London to a rural area six years ago and worked long-distance for a previous employer for two years before being made redundant. Finding work in my old field would involve moving back to London (not an option atm) or working freelance from home (precarious and oversubscribed and I don't want to be stuck at home in front of a screen with no one to bounce ideas off). So I decided on a complete career change.
I applied for a primary PGCE but didn't get a place mainly because my degree is 20 years old and not in a core subject. So I started an OU course to refresh my academic qualifications and exercise my brain and it snowballed a bit. I am about to graduate with a history degree (history has always been my passion) and had intended to reapply for a primary PGCE, but have now changed my mind. Reason - although I have done loads of volunteering in school and still love KS2, I have also been made very aware that in the area I live there is a HUGE oversupply of primary teachers and I would struggle to find work.
I could apply for a secondary history PGCE at my local university, but have been assured by various secondary teachers and headteachers that I have spoken to that the employment situation locally for history teachers is even worse than for primary teachers.
I could apply for a general history MA, but am not sure what extra career options that would open up - perhaps a route into post-16 teaching?
I could apply for a distance learning MA in Museum Studies, with the hope of going into education outreach work with a museum?
I don't know what else I could do.
I also don't know to what extent this view of my employment prospects is limited by the area I live in. We moved here for the children's sake and they are very happy here. DH is freelance and works from home so his location is not an issue. I would like to move to improve my job prospects, but not if it impacts negatively on the children.
I don't know what to do! Am also mid-forties, so not much time left to do any of it and I worry about age discrimination.
If you've got to the end of this marathon and you have any words of advice, please give them - I seem to have lost the ability to think straight for myself.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 09-Sep-09 19:10:47

Bump for the evening crowd. I know it's long, but my need is great. grin

cockles Wed 09-Sep-09 19:15:21

OK, nothing particularly helpful here I can say, except that afaik, museum work is also vastly oversubscribed.You could enquire into post-16 options locally, but I'm not sure an MA is the way into it, you probably need a teaching qualification. If you reallly want to teach & are convinced you can't locally, I would do the training and then move if necessary. have you looked at other local jobs to see if there is anything you are qualified for/interested in, now you have another degree?

LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 09-Sep-09 19:19:15

Job of the week in our local paper last week was night shifts at a care home. There is also seasonal work available cleaning holiday cottages. There have been a handful of jobs that I could apply for in the past three years, and out of those I have only had one interview.

Zorayda Wed 09-Sep-09 19:27:25

Is it worth looking to see if there's any National Trust type jobs going? It could be worth checking with your local tourist board for jobs and for tourist attractions that it might be worth sending in a CV to on spec for a guide position somewhere of historical interest?

Not ideal, but a good way to make contacts in the industry that could be advantageous in the long run and if you're working there they may even help with funding your MA. And you'd still be working in the education sector, but in a more dynamic setting (sorry, CV speak there blush).

LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 09-Sep-09 22:10:08

Zorayda, there are a few such places about, but they depend heavily on volunteers for staffing. I have enquired but there is little or nothing available in the way of paid work. In fact, in the local paper generally, the volunteers wanted section is larger than the paid jobs.

NoahFence Wed 09-Sep-09 22:11:29

history teaching jobs are sparse but as a teacher you could at least do supply adn then wheedle your way in that way or through RS or Geog.

i think you are taking too much advice and not doing what you want to do.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Wed 09-Sep-09 22:20:34

Overthinking things is one of my many issues, it's true!

choosyfloosy Wed 09-Sep-09 22:26:50

I have frequently been put off things in the past by heavy messages that there are far too many people doing it and I'll never get anywhere. Frankly, you just can't let that stop you completely.

There must be occasional jobs in primary school teaching that come up - parental leave, if nothing else? Supply? If you still love KS2 and have done loads of volunteering, YOU ARE A GOOD CANDIDATE. You may or may not actually get a job doing this, but dammit, try! The only thing you can be sure of is that you are definitely not going to get any job if you don't apply for it.

choosyfloosy Wed 09-Sep-09 22:27:29

Sorry - I mean after the PGCE!

LauraIngallsWilder Wed 09-Sep-09 22:31:57

Hi ladyglencora

I am in a similar position too you - except my history degree is over 10 years old blush
I would love to have a job as a museum curator, historical archivist etc but to do that potentially involves an MA and that means moving to a town I cant possibly afford to live in or near!

I agree if you really want to be a teacher, apply and see what happens - if you are good you WILL get a job.
If kids are your thing go for KS2 if history is your greater passion go for secondary or post 16 (not much history in primary curriculum!)

I would love to work freelance from home using my love of history but I suspect it is way over subscribed so I am still in a quandry!!

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 10:53:14

Choosy - thanks for the kick up the seat of the pants. I DO want to teach, it's just that every time I mention it to anyone I get a chorus of "oh, you don't want to do that, no jobs, pick a less crowded profession, rhubarb, rhubarb" until I have completely lost confidence in my plans.

LIW - I agree with you, I am leaning towards secondary/post 16 as I love the subject so much. I thought a Masters might make me a more attractive proposition for A-level.

I think I will apply for the the secondary history PGCE and see what happens. I may not even get a place. sad

Laura - Leicester University does a distance learning masters in museum studies - its over two years and looks really good - take a look at their website.

LauraIngallsWilder Fri 11-Sep-09 18:41:17

Ill have a look ladyglen thankyou

I have the same attitude problem as you though I think - whats the point if there is no job at the end of it, or only jobs that pay peanuts - bearing in mind the costs involved in studying!

I think I need a kick too

AuraofDora Fri 11-Sep-09 18:47:53

good luck with it, the only thing i could think of was publishing but that's londoncentric or freelance .. researcher, or at university, museum work with schoolchildren forging links with schools ..

the situation on the job front might be better than you think, is it worth casting around further to check
hope it works out and youtoo laura ingallswilder or halfpint!

Libra Fri 11-Sep-09 18:55:43

i have a history degree and also a Masters in Medieval Studies (which makes you really employable NOT). I did get a place on an Archivism Masters after that, although didn't take it up. Would that appeal?

What about Librarianship? There are lots of Masters degrees (some distance learning so it doesn't matter where you live) and then the possiblity of working in a university library or an archive?

I ended up in Publishing and then lecturing and now lecture in Media Studies (with a bit of Media History so I still feel like a historian sometimes).

LadyGlencoraPalliser Fri 11-Sep-09 21:16:06

I worked in journalism for nearly 20 years, Libra! Never thought of teaching Media Studies as an option. How did you get into that, if you don't mind me asking?

Quattrocento Fri 11-Sep-09 21:22:20

My degree is in English and just as useless practically speaking as your history degree. It is the nature of our sort of degrees that they can't be used unless you either teach at schools or go into academia.

The circumstances you describe do not sound promising for a job using your degree. If you have done your research really thoroughly and it sounds as though you have, it doesn't sound as though you can teach. I don't know if you've looked into all avenues of teaching (FE colleges, special needs etc) but I'm assuming all those are a no-go.

So I'd really suggest branching right away from your degree. Start a small business - a cafe or a restaurant, or maybe a bookshop or something. I think that's a better bet than more learning. If you do decide on more learning, please be very clear what this learning is going to equip you to do.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Fri 11-Sep-09 21:34:50

Quattro - that's the problem. I live in a very beautiful part of the country which also happens to be low-wage, high unemployment area. Starting a business isn't really feasible. In the six years I've lived here I have seen numerous people come here, like us attracted by the cheap houses and the idyllic lifestyle. Typically, they open a business - cafes, restaurants, bookshops are popular, as are pottery painting businesses and bunty cupcake type shops - which fails within six months to a year. What happens is they totally overestimate the amount of disposable income people here have.
I love it here, but damn it's hard to make a living.

Libra Sat 12-Sep-09 16:10:30

LadyGlencora. Take a look at There are always some jobs going in media studies or journalism and these type of courses will be interesed in practitioners as well as those who have undertaken research.

I worked in publishing for some time and so moved into lecturing in publishing. I was then able to undertake a part-time PhD at the university, related to media history, and so now my job entails research and teaching in media studies, mainly media history and gender and media.

AvengingGerbil Sat 12-Sep-09 16:31:38

I have a PhD in history.

No work.

Retraining as a lawyer.

Collapse of global financial institutions.

No work.

Wish I was a plumber.

Judy1234 Sat 12-Sep-09 23:30:05

Move to central London. Means you and in due course your children can get jobs and have a life rather than the beautiful but economically useless back of beyond.
Or just as Qu says start something. Write an article a day and send it out to people. Put ads up locally to tutor children. That kind of thing.
Good luck with it.
My daughters did non career specific degrees and are both going into a reasonably well paid profession so the situation is not entirely hopeless.

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