CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 27, 2015
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Philosophy as a Career Choice

Philosophy is often seen by those who don’t understand it as a somewhat nebulous, old-fashioned degree course with no place in the modern technological world of work. However, there are many tangible benefits to undertaking a philosophy degree; here are some of them.

Invaluable skills

Philosophy equips students with an excellent grounding in the skillset looked for by employers in many fields. For this reason, a job applicant will often find themselves answering more questions about their philosophy course than about any other aspect of their work experience.

What employers want

Philosophy graduates are able to:

  • generate ideas to solve a wide variety of problems
  • uncover assumptions and come up with viable alternatives
  • distinguish similarities from subtle differences
  • develop and formulate logical arguments
  • make informed, knowledgeable decisions
  • examine different angles of topics
  • write and communicate effectively
  • analyse thoughts and theories, then interpret them

These specific skills and abilities are just what employers are searching for when screening candidates and they can be effectively applied to just about any role in any industry sector. For this reason, there are plenty of career options available to philosophers.

Career opportunities

Philosophy is the ultimate ‘work skillset’ and the choice of careers open to graduates is wide and varied:

  • law
  • business
  • diplomacy
  • social work
  • religion
  • writing
  • banking
  • public relations
  • counselling
  • research

Professional philosopher

Traditionally, a professional philosopher would gravitate towards a career in academia and would work as a university lecturer teaching philosophy to students or would make a living as a writer of academic papers. These days, there are more openings for professional philosophers at colleges and schools where they teach philosophy’s sub-areas like metaphysics and logic.

A very small number of philosophers are employed by ‘think-tanks’ that operate ethics panels. They are instrumental in deciding how to most fairly distribute limited resources, such as donated organs for example, and they may also work on solving other ethical problems. Clearly, a great deal of personal satisfaction may be gained from such a role, but the responsibility it carries is also great.

Not surprisingly, there are not many job vacancies for such a specialised niche role and the majority of philosophy graduates migrate to other careers as mentioned above.

Financial rewards

For those who carve out a career as a professional philosopher, the median annual salary for philosophy and postsecondary religion professors is in the region of $65,000. Professors who diversify into the sciences often supplement their incomes via research grants, although such grants are not easily available.

Personal development

Philosophy not only equips students for a potentially rewarding career in a multitude of different fields, it also equips them for life itself. Philosophers understand who they are and what they are doing in their life that’s meaningful. They understand their purpose and have clear values. They are more concerned with knowing their own minds, not other people’s.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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