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Majoring in Philosophy: Career Prospects

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There is a widespread belief that majoring in philosophy is harmful to your career. I have been researching this claim, and the evidence I have supports the conclusion that it is partly true, but very misleading.

First of all, it is true that philosophy majors have a higher unemployment rate than most other majors. The numbers I have seen all put the unemployment rate for philosophy majors at about 9-10%, which is higher than most other majors. For example, it is about twice the unemployment rate for computer science. Philosophy majors also have a higher rate of working in retail than most other majors.

However, once hired, the salaries of philosophy majors rise faster than any other major (tied with mathematics). Philosophy majors’ salaries start at $39,900 and reach $81,200 at mid career, on average, which is higher than any other humanities degree. Philosophy majors who pick up some technical skills make $6,000 more than philosophy majors without those skills when they start, on average, and are eligible for hundreds of thousands of additional job openings.

Philosophy majors also do very well on standardized tests. Philosophy majors do better than any other major on the LSAT, and prospective philosophy graduate students, most of whom would have studied philosophy as undergraduates, do better than prospective graduate students in any other field on the analytical writing and verbal sections of the GRE.

I would say majoring in philosophy does provide you with useful skills, but it will probably be difficult to persuade employers that you have those skills due to the cultural bias against philosophy.

Written by William

November 6, 2015 at 10:14 am

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