When it comes to the job hunt, people like to give philosophy students a hard time. If you’re in the field, then you’re likely familiar with the dreaded comments that inevitably come up at family reunions and networking events, like “What are you really going to do?” or “I bet they’re hiring in ancient Greece!”
While philosophy is sometimes viewed as a niche, untranslatable area of study, the truth is, the skills and knowledge it transmits can be applicable to a variety of jobs. Philosophy majors often find work in well-paying, rewarding fields such as law, government and public service. So if you’re a philosophy major about to hit the job market and are scrambling to come up with a solid post-grad plan, read below for suggested career paths, job search advice and more!
Skills for Philosophy Majors
Although majoring in philosophy doesn’t directly prepare you for one particular vocation, there are a number of skills you develop through the course of your studies that will be useful in nearly any job you have. Here are just a handful of examples:
- Critical thinking
- Verbal communication
- Written communication
Whether you choose to enter law, computer science, marketing or academia, these skills are bound to help you succeed in the workplace.
Where to Begin Your Career After Getting a Philosophy Degree
With so many different types of careers available to you, it can be challenging to figure out where to start your career. But don’t feel pressured to find your dream job right away — lots of people explore several different fields and industries before settling on one for the long haul. The best thing you can do early on is to identify your interests and pursue them.
Start by simply making a list of the things you’ve enjoyed most about your studies, and then research which positions would help you further those interests. For example, if you’ve really enjoyed debating in class and coming up with persuasive arguments, a law career might be right for you. If you loved writing essays, you could consider a career in journalism. And if you got a kick out of studying logic, a job in software engineering could be a great fit.
Some Quick Job Search Tips for Philosophy Majors
Many job search tips are applicable across fields — for example, no matter what you studied or which field you pursue, it’s never a bad idea to network, craft a compelling resume and develop an elevator pitch. But there are a few nuances to the job search for those studying philosophy. Here are a few ways that philosophy majors can find career success:
- Get early exposure. The benefits of exploring career options before you graduate are twofold — for one, it will help you figure out what you like and dislike, but it will also help you become a more competitive candidate. In today’s labor market, companies expect college students to already have some experience in the professional world. Internships, job shadowing and informational interviews are all great ways to learn more about your options before settling on one.
- Don’t feel pressured to go to grad school right away. In fields like philosophy, where there is no one set career path, some students choose to go straight to graduate school simply because they aren’t sure what else to do. There’s certainly nothing wrong with going to grad school if that’s truly what you want to do, but given the time and money you must invest in a graduate program, it doesn’t make much sense to go to grad school as a way of avoiding the “real world” for a few more years.
- Evaluate the competition. Some of the fields that philosophy majors tend to enter, such as law and academia, are highly competitive and can be difficult to find employment in. Of course, just because a field is competitive doesn’t mean you should avoid it entirely, but it is one of many factors that should be taken into consideration. Talk to industry professionals and research online to see what the job market is like for your fields of interest.
Continuing Education and Certifications
Many students who study philosophy choose to further their education with a master’s or PhD. Here is a rundown of a few of the most common options:
- Master’s in Philosophy: Master’s in philosophy programs are typically two years long, and involve both class time and independent research. Typically, graduate students pursuing a Master’s in Philosophy will need to pay tuition, although costs can be offset through scholarships, financial aid and work-study programs. In particular, many universities offer discounted tuition to those who work as graduate student instructors. A master’s in philosophy may not be the most marketable degree, though — if you’re interested in pursuing a career in academia, you are probably better off getting a PhD. Otherwise, entering the workforce directly after undergrad may make more sense.
- PhD in Philosophy: Unlike master’s programs, PhD programs are usually fully funded by academic institutions, with stipends provided to each student. Because of this, though, PhD programs are often more competitive than master’s programs. PhD programs also take longer than a master’s degree — roughly five to seven years versus just two for an M.A. PhD programs are usually best for those who want to work in academia.
- Juris Doctorate: Many philosophy majors choose to become lawyers. If this is a position you’re interested in, you will need to attend law school and get your juris doctorate (JD). Law school usually takes three years and can be expensive, but it is undoubtedly the right program to pursue if you are serious about becoming a lawyer.
Most Common Jobs for Philosophy Majors
People who study philosophy can end up in all sorts of different careers, from traditional corporate positions to government work to academia and more. Here are a few of the most common careers for philosophy majors:
Entry-Level Philosophy Major Jobs
You may not be able to get your dream job right off the bat, but everybody has to start somewhere! Here are some of the most popular entry-level jobs for philosophy majors:
Philosophy Major Internships
Want to tip your toe into the working world, but aren’t about to graduate? Then an internship could be perfect for you. Here are some common internships that philosophy majors tend to pursue: