Why Study Philosophy?
While liberal arts degrees tend to get a bad rap, the return on investment for a philosophy degree depends on the work you put into it as well as where your career takes you upon graduation. The school you attend can also affect your future earnings, as evidenced by an October 2021 study by FREOPP. Per details in the study, a philosophy degree from Dartmouth College is worth more than $2.1 million over the course of one's career, whereas the same degree from the University of Pennsylvania is worth a little north of $1.25 million, and earning a philosophy degree from Illinois University gets you an average return-on-investment (ROI) just short of $200,000.
Data collected from APA shows that philosophy majors' GRE scores were higher than all the scores from other majors.
What To Do With a Philosophy Degree?
That said, studying philosophy can open your mind to new ways of thinking and learning. Data collected from the American Philosophical Association (APA) shows that philosophy majors' Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores were higher than all the scores from other majors. Further, they show that philosophy majors earned the second highest score above all other majors on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) that's used to get into law school.
This could be due to the fact that philosophy majors study so many different topics as part of their curriculum, and many of the degree's core courses help improve one's critical thinking skills. For example, philosophy major curriculum covers broad topics, such as aesthetics, ethics, logic, metaphysics, epistemology (theory of knowledge), history, and more.
What jobs can you get with a philosophy degree? Unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions surrounding philosopher careers, and it's even falsely assumed that you can only go on to teach philosophy at the high school or college level.
Plenty of government sources also lump in philosophy with religion, which skews the figures on the types of philosophy careers available and their various stats. For example, even the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published a paper on the value of a philosophy and religion degree, even though theology is an entirely different field of study altogether.
The fact is, earning a bachelor's in philosophy — or even an affordable master's in philosophy — can and has led to many different philosophy major jobs. In fact, many famous and successful people earned a philosophy degree before figuring out how to make a name in the world. Examples include Pope John Paul II, director Wes Craven, actress Susan Sarandon, and game show host Alex Trebek, to name a few of the most famous philosophers out there.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Philosophy Degree?
Jobs for philosophy majors fall within many major industries, some of which feature high pay and exceptional demand. As cited above, the BLS reports that the majority of philosophy graduates find work in managerial roles.
Below are some of the best jobs with a philosophy degree you can get, with salary and job growth data from the BLS:
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators
Arbitrators help negotiate between different parties who need to come to an agreement. For example, arbitrators often help negotiate terms during or after divorce proceedings, and they help settle disputes between companies and consumers. Very few people who become an arbitrator enter this field with a related degree. However, a bachelor's degree is required, and a degree in philosophy helps students embrace many of the ideas and concepts these workers use on a regular basis.
While advertising managers need industry experience to become a manager in their field, a bachelor's degree in any field, including philosophy, is a good place to start. These workers collaborate with others to create and execute powerful advertising campaigns for various brands. In a managerial role, they may oversee other professionals, assigning them duties and projects.
Marketing managers can get started in this career with a bachelor's degree in philosophy or another field, yet they typically need on-the-job experience to climb the ranks. These workers use their understanding of the human mind, as well as collected data, to come up with marketing strategies and campaigns that help their clients sell their products and services.
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Fundraising managers work in many different industries, coming up with strategies to get people to contribute to various campaigns. They oversee other staff and try to identify potential donors for each cause they champion. Fundraising managers typically begin their careers with a bachelor's degree, and a philosophy degree is a great way to get started because it delves into human behavior and motives.
Market Research Analysts
While some market research analysts may need a graduate degree, many enter this field with a bachelor's degree in any number of fields. For example, this career often begins with a degree in various social sciences, or in communications, philosophy, or business. Either way, these professionals use their own research skills as well as collected data in order to make predictions and informed decisions regarding consumer behavior. They use this information to help the companies they work for market their products and make decisions regarding their overall business strategy.
Operations Research Analysts
Operations research analysts need a bachelor's degree in any field in order to find work and begin building a career. These workers use mathematics and logic in order to help the companies they work for solve various problems. They also develop testing models, write reports, and submit their data and opinions to executives and other officials within their company ranks.
Are Philosophy Degree Holders In Demand?
Many careers for philosophy majors are in high demand.
It's helpful to understand that the average job growth projection across all careers in the U.S. is 5%. With that context, job openings for operations research analysts are expected to increase 23% from 2021 to 2031, which means over 24,000 new positions in this field are expected to open over the next ten years. Another in-demand job for philosophers is market research analyst, which is expected to see 19% growth, which means 150,300 new jobs will be added nationally through 2031.
A few other philosophy major jobs to consider for solid growth include marketing managers, advertising managers, and fundraising managers, all of which are expected to see 10% job growth through 2031. By comparison, the average job growth for all industries combined is expected to reach 5% during that time.
Skills for Philosophy Careers
As you compare careers for philosophy majors and colleges that offer this program, you should also know about the skills you can gain as you learn. After all, skills and knowledge gained during this degree program should relate to the philosophy careers you're considering for after you graduate.
Some of the top skills and concepts you can learn during this program include the following:
Critical thinking skills are the ability to study and understand a wide breadth of concepts and arguments, including how they relate to one another
The ability to analyze various data and concepts allows students to understand information to its fullest extent
Problem-solving skills help students tackle various issues and make them indispensable in the workplace
Rhetorical skills help learners craft cohesive arguments for or against almost anything
Soft skills translate to the workplace and can only be gained by having a thorough understanding of others
Philosophy degrees often have much better outcomes than people realize, and the skills you learn can translate rather well to a number of in-demand jobs. Continue researching all available online degree programs you're interested in, including philosophy, and you're bound to find the right fit.