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What is the outlook for Philosophy careers currently?

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2 answers

Jeremy’s Answer

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Hello Ashley. Thanks for your interest in philosophy. There are two ways to interpret your question -- first is "what kind of career(s) would I have if I major in philosophy in college", and the second is "if I want to build a career in the field of philosophy -- as a professional philosopher -- how is the outlook of the job market"?

To answer the question with the first interpretation, I would say there is definitely some value in majoring in philosophy. It helps horn your critical thinking skills, reading and writing skills, etc. Philosophy majors are arguably on top of the GRE score list. (See http://dailynous.com/2019/10/11/philosophy-majors-gre-updated-data/). These skills are definitely what many employers put emphasis on. Many famous people also major in philosophy too, according to this site -- (http://blogs.lmu.edu/philosophy/meet-some-philosophy-majors/famous-philosophy-majors/) and the comments here https://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2011/03/famous-philosophy-majors.html . And personally, one of the most valuable things I learn in philosophy is how to grasp some concepts by myself quickly and how to explain them to people outside my field. I think they are very important skills.

Now let's look at the second interpretation of your question -- if you love philosophy and do well in college, why not go to grad school and pursue a career in philosophy? But the sad fact is, it is hard to find a job even with a PhD in philosophy from a famous school. There isn't just a big demand for college professorship in philosophy, which is what most philosophy PhDs do afterwards. Philosophy departments in the country are also in their own existential crisis and because of pressures from many different aspects, they have to justify their existence and make sure they don't get cut from their school. And when old professors retire, they don't get easily replaced, which make new philosophy PhD graduates hard to find jobs. For more information, you can check it here -- http://dailynous.com/category/philosophy-job-market/. On a more positive note, you can find some facts and encouragements from here -- https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com From these sites, you can have a general idea of the life of being a graduate student or young/un-tenured professor in philosophy. Afterwards, you can make an informed decision on what you should do after college.

After all, for now, I would say just focusing on college first and there are so different opportunities ahead of you and don't worry too much about the dark side of being a professional philosopher. Just focus on learning it to your best capability.


Btw I studied philosophy for 9 years, which might be too long. So definitely don't be like me! :)

Jeremy recommends the following next steps:

  • Check these websites out!
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Esther’s Answer

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Hi Ashley. It is so wonderful to hear that you are interested in Philosophy. =) It's a great college major that can lead you to many different paths. My boyfriend majored in philosophy also and planned to use that background to either teach philosophy or go to law school. Now he works in finance. I know that's way different from teaching or practicing law! The point is a background in philosophy can apply to many different careers because it teaches you to look at things from other people's points of view and to analyze and evaluate things logically.

Many people may discourage you from going into Philosophy because they feel it will be difficult for you to find a job when you graduate. That may be true because many people do not understand what a philosophy background involves. To overcome this dilemma and to pursue your interest in this topic, I recommend adding a 2nd major in college... Something else you can study in addition to philosophy that will give you more "marketable" skills. What else are you interested in? Design? Journalism? Business?

I hope you will continue to pursue your special interest Ashley. We need more philosophers in the world!

Esther recommends the following next steps:

  • https://philosophy.as.uky.edu/where-can-philosophy-take-me
  • https://www.gmercyu.edu/academics/learn/philosophy-major-jobs
  • Meet with a school counselor
  • Talk to philosophy professors in your neighborhood
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