Will philosophy help you get a job?
The evidence is overwhelming that a philosophy education is extremely valuable, even in careers that you wouldn't normally think of as requiring philosophical background.
Indeed, philosophy is one of the top ten degrees for getting you a job, measured by percentage of graduates with a job within six months of finishing their degree. That beats physics and computer science.*
According to another recent survey, humanities graduates had better employment than computer and math fields, and social sciences such as economics and political science.*
In fact, a case can be made that if your major isn't philosophy, philosophy should be the field that you study second-most, after your major itself. This is true even in seemingly distant fields, such as engineering.*
If you want to study at the postgraduate level, you should study philosophy. Not only are philosophers the best at standardized testing--see below--but also, philosophers have high admission rates to postgraduate education, even in fields that seem unrelated.
For example, in 1997, the major with the highest admission rate to medical school was philosophy. And more generally, philosophers at or near the top in medical school admission rates. Philosophers also score at or near the top in law school admission rates.
Job skills and life skills
Philosophy gives you extremely important job skills. Philosophy is the only major that teaches critical thinking explicitly and directly, and high critical thinking skills are positively correlated with employment. (In addition, better critical thinkers have less credit card debt and are less likely to live at home.)
More generally, nearly all careers will require an ability to communicate one's ideas convincingly, to write and speak in general, and to evaluate evidence. Philosophy seems to teach these skills better than any other major, given the performance of philosophers on standardized tests, and the extremely high demands that philosophy places on students to develop these skills.
Many people attest that the most valuable parts of their education were their philosophy courses, or that they are looking for people who have the skills that philosophy provides better than anyone else.*
Another expert, a management consultant, writes that if you want to succeed in business, you should study philosophy.*
Finance, property development, health, social work, and business fields all want philosophy majors.*
Overwhelming majorities of employers surveyed continue to say that they want critical-thinking skills, ethical judgment skills, complex problem-solving skills, and written and oral communication skills; indeed, these are more important than choice of major.*
Will philosophy make me money? (And does that matter?)
Philosophy is a lot of fun. Philosophers often end up with moderately-paying jobs that give us a lot of free time and flexibility. People frequently pay money in order to have fun, so you could consider making less money but having more fun to be a pretty natural trade.
However, philosophers do make money. By mid-career, philosophy is in the top half for earnings potential out of all majors.* Here's a visual representation:
Indeed, by mid-career, philosophers make more money than any other humanities majors.* That's pretty good for a job as fun as this one.
Philosophers score the highest on the GRE, the general test of one's postgraduate education abilities. Here's a visual representation:
When grouped with religion, they score second-highest on the LSAT, the test to get into law school, but given religion's relatively poor performance on other tests, it's likely that philosophy considered alone would also score the highest. And even on the GMAT, for business school, philosophers score the third-highest. Humanities majors score well on the MCAT as well, for medical school, although it's difficult to find data about philosophy in particular.
What employers want
Employers want "people who can think clearly and critically, who know themselves, who have the ability to listen to others and interact respectfully."* Again, philosophy teaches clear and critical thinking better than any other major, and it also encourages reflective thinking.
Employers genuinely do value the broad education a liberal arts degree gives you, according to a recent congressional report.*
Correlation versus causation
Granted, it's possible that studying philosophy does not cause people to be so much smarter; it merely attracts those sorts of people. However, completing the philosophy major with good grades actually requires people to develop those skills, and so if you have the capacity to develop those skills at all, philosophy will greatly help you do so. In addition, it's unlikely that the direction of causation could only go in one direction: from being smart to studying philosophy. More likely, the two contribute to each other. If you can rise to the challenge of philosophy courses, your rising to the challenge will mean developing these skills.
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