Photo courtesy of Yang Deng
Philosophy explores the nature of knowledge, reality, consciousness, and humanity in the world. While it might sound like a mouthful, what it comes down to is this—philosophy majors are some of the deepest-thinking, most thoughtful people to enter the workforce.
Here are 10 jobs for philosophy majors that'll have you putting your thinking skills to the test.
1. Research scientist
Research scientists are the brains behind the data and analysis that drives change and development in our world. Research scientists can find work in STEM fields, government agencies, medicine, universities, and just about any industry that uses data to operate. Depending on your industry and specialization, you may need to get a master’s degree and then a Ph.D. in your chosen field.
The average salary for a research scientist is $88,000.
2. Tech ethicist
Tech ethicists study, analyze, and comment on the larger implications of the development, application, and use of technology. In a role like this, you would study subjects like cyber security, artificial intelligence, social media, biotechnology, data collection, and privacy.
Tech ethics is an emerging field, so there’s not a lot of data available about salaries, but ethicists in other fields, like law and medicine (there are plenty of options if tech isn’t your thing), can expect to make $80,000 or more per year.
3. Philosophy professor
Many philosophy students chose this major because they want to find a higher purpose in life, and for some, that means giving back to their academic communities and fostering the next generation of philosophers (and professors). To become a philosophy professor, you’ll need at least a master’s degree, and likely a Ph.D.
Philosophy professors make an average salary of $64,000, but such salaries can vary widely based on the institution and experience.
Read more: How to Know if You’re Qualified for the Job
4. Data scientist
Data scientists are employed across all industries, from city planning to medicine, sociology, psychology, tech, politics, design, manufacturing, marketing, entertainment—you name it, they probably have someone looking at data on a sophisticated level. Not only should you be an excellent data collector, your philosophy degree should have equipped you to do the deep analysis required of people in this role.
Most data scientists have a least a master’s degree, but many have Ph.D.s, but that investment in your education can really pay off: As a data scientist you can expect an average salary of $121,000.
5. Mental health counselor
Philosophy majors might find a career as a mental health counselor rewarding. You might work with children in schools or in the foster care system, individuals with substance abuse problems, families and couples, military veterans, or people who have experienced trauma. To land a job as a mental health counselor, you’ll need a master’s degree and certification(s) in your area of specialization.
Your salary will vary based on specialization, but according to Glassdoor, workers with this specific title make an average of $40,000 per year.
If you love politics or are simply passionate about a cause, a career as a lobbyist can be a great way to put your philosophy degree to good use. In this job, you’ll work on behalf of businesses or non-profit organizations to push legislators and politicians to act in the interest of your cause.
Lobbyists make an average of $87,000 per year.
7. Lawyer / mediator
To be a lawyer, you’ll need to get a juris doctorate (J.D.), of course, but law school could lead to a intellectually rewarding and financially lucrative career as a lawyer or a mediator, which is a kind of specialized lawyer.
As an attorney, you might work in the courts as a prosecutor or defense attorney; with children in the foster care system; with big businesses on mergers and acquisitions or IPOs; with small businesses on matters like incorporation and taxes; or you might work as a family attorney handle divorces, prenups, and adoptions; or as an estate attorney and handle wills and inheritance. Basically, there is nearly no end to legal specializations.
One that might be uniquely interesting to philosophy majors is mediation, in which you resolve legal disputes outside the courtroom in a way that, hopefully, satisfies both parties with the best compromise possible.
Lawyers' salaries vary widely, but you can expect to make around $117,000 a year.
If you’re interested in law but don’t want to face the mountain of student loans it can come with it, or can’t spare the three years of intensive academic work, a career as a paralegal might be a great avenue for you.
Paralegals assist attorneys in their work, preparing documents, communicating with clients and witnesses, conducting research, and helping the lawyer prep before proceedings.
Paralegals make an average of $50,000.