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7 Careers for Philosophy Students

Being able to think critically and independently is an important skill that is often taken for granted. Learning to question and understand moral and ethical dilemmas is also vital for living an examined life. The serious study ofphilosophy as a major can prepare you to excel in any number of distinct, rewarding and challenging careers. Philosophy is a multifaceted subject that has endless depth and potential to study and learn from for years to come.

Nov 15, 2019
  • Education
7 Careers for Philosophy Students

Why study philosophy?

Philosophy can help you in all areas of academia as it is a very wide-ranging and versatile field of study. It is, after all, the field on which many base their foundations. “Philosophy's aim from the beginning has been to give a general understanding of the universe that could provide a basis for the understanding of life, something on which to build a rational art of the existence of man and society,” writes A. Spirkin, an expert on the subject.

As a philosophy major you will also have ample opportunity to hone and develop excellent critical thinking and writing skills as you will be asked by your professors and teachers to really dig deep and consider larger existential questions and conundrums. You won’t have a problem taking a stance or debating your point of view.

What can you do with a philosophy degree?

When you think about careers for philosophy students, what comes to mind? Professor? Writer? Journalist? While all of these professions are possibilities for philosophy majors, they’re by no means the only ones. In fact, there are a number of careers that might surprise you, which offer a great deal of stability and satisfaction. So if you’re wondering what to do with your degree once you graduate, read on. We’ve compiled a list of nine careers for philosophy students that will open up your world to endless possibilities.

1. Writer

Parlaying your philosophical skills and expertise into a career as a writer seems like a no-brainer. “A person with a philosophy major tends to have among the highest mid-career incomes of any major,” explains Associate Professor Chris Lauer. “This is for some of the reasons that you would expect, critical thinking and writing skills, but some of it is job flexibility -- going in not expecting a career track but being willing to look for opportunities. Philosophy majors don’t expect to get a job in the philosophy factory. They pursue lots of different interests until they find what sticks.” A writer knows that to make a career out of writing requires a certain kind of entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to being flexible.

2. Entrepreneur or analyst

Entrepreneurs and analysts capitalize on their philosophy majors by employing their positive outlook on life and their ability to take things in stride and with perspective. Employees in these roles need to be able to think critically and come up with new ideas. They also need to be able to sell their ideas by using their strong communication skills. Many business professionals majored in philosophy in college. “Once hired, philosophy majors advance more rapidly than their colleagues who possess only business degrees,” writes Thomas Hurka, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary.

3. Legal specialist

A philosophy major is well-positioned to become a legal specialist. They will be skilled in writing well, debating and taking a stance on an argument, untangling various problems and much more. Much philosophical rhetoric is crucial to understanding and grasping the legal system. “Philosophy gave me the analytical skills to develop recruitment processes that were logical, fair and legally defensible. These analytical skills extend to many other things I have done or continue to do at work, including policy analysis, making policy recommendations and interpreting legal and quasi-legal documents,” says Kari Middleton, a volunteer coordinator.

4. Human resources

Some might say that having a strong sense of a moral compass and ethics is key to a successful human resources (HR) specialist. Anyone who works in HR might tell you about how much patience and compassion it takes to perform well in a position that requires a high degree of professionalism and a good sense of right and wrong. Philosophy majors are skilled in weighing the pros and cons and considering all angles of a situation. This is an invaluable skill as an HR specialist, someone who is often tasked with being a liaison between the employee and the employer.

5. Healthcare professional

Philosophy teaches students how to think about problems and how to solve them. This is a skill that is essential for any healthcare professional. They need to be able to think critically about cases and come up with solutions for their patients. “The analytical skills I developed studying philosophy have been indispensable as a mental health professional. My training in philosophy gave me a strong foundation in critical thinking, argumentation and logical analysis, which I use on a daily basis when assessing and treating patients,” says Michael Inzlicht, a clinical psychologist.

6. Teacher or Professor

Teachers impart knowledge and help shape young minds. What about becoming a teacher with a philosophy degree? Teachers are deep thinkers and need to be good at conveying complicated terms, concepts and ideas to their students. A philosophy-trained teacher will be able to articulate and express complex ideas and terms, making almost all subjects accessible and within reach for all their students, Merging ideas with good teaching is an ideal career for a philosophy major.

7. Counselor or mediator

A career in counseling or mediation requires you to be a good listener and to consider and decipher what’s really occurring between two or more potential hostile parties. Many philosophy majors come to the profession of counseling or mediation with strong foundational knowledge as well as high morals and ethics, qualities that are essential to working in a field that requires a high degree of confidentiality and tact.

8. Political scientist

Political scientists need to be able to think critically and analyze data. They also need to be able to write well. Philosophy majors make great political scientists because they have the ability to both think in an abstract manner and analyze data. They also have strong writing skills. Philosophy majors are perfect for a career in political science. The analytical skills that philosophy majors develop are exactly what is needed in the field of political science,

9. Local government officer

Working as a local government officer is a great career for those who have a degree in philosophy. Local government officers are responsible for overseeing and managing the operations of a local government unit. They need to be able to understand the viewpoints, beliefs and thought processes of the public. Philosophy majors are perfect for this career because they can see complex issues from several points of view. So if you are thinking about majoring in philosophy, you can be sure that you are preparing yourself for a successful career as a local government officer.

Still wondering if a philosophy major is for you?

You might be surprised to learn that philosophy does pay. It’s definitely not a “worthless liberal arts degree.” In fact, reports a high job satisfaction and an average annual salary of $72,000 US dollars for those holding a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

“The study of philosophy is not merely the study of abstract ideas. In fact, this discipline can teach you how to think critically and clearly present your argument - valuable skills that could set you up for a career as a barrister, solicitor, local government officer or lecturer, to name but a few,” writes Katie Russell for The Daily Telegraph,

A degree in the varied, fascinating subject of philosophy is not limiting: in fact, the skills it develops and sharpens are transferable to a wide variety of jobs and careers. It isn't called 'the mother of all disciplines' for nothing. Philosophy teaches students how to think about problems and how to solve them. This is a skill that is essential for any healthcare professional, writer, lawyer, political scientist or entrepreneur. So if you are thinking about getting a degree in philosophy, whether it`s through a bachelor, master, or doctorate, you can be sure that you are preparing yourself for a successful career.

This article was updated on 06 May 2022

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S.M. Audsley


S. M. Audsley is a freelance writer and poet who lives and works in Vermont, a small but mighty state in the United States. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast and a lover of potlucks.

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