Careers for Philosophers


“I once asked the personnel director of a major aerospace company what type of student he is most eager to recruit. ‘I’ll always go for the philosophy major,’ he said. ‘They know nothing about aerospace but they know everything about complexity, and that’s what I need.’”

- Stephen Fix


"A Liberal Arts Degree Is More Valuable Than Learning Any Trade"

 - Forbes



Careers for Philosophers

Many students love philosophy and want to devote their college years to its study, but are concerned that if they do so, they might not be able to find suitable employment after graduation.

It can come as a happy surprise to learn that in today’s job market, philosophy is one of the very best majors to prepare you for a successful career.

Here are some relevant statistics:

  • Philosophy majors have the highest salary increase from starting to mid-career (tied with math).
  • Philosophy majors have the highest mid-career salaries of all humanities majors.
  • Philosophy majors have, on average, the second highest LSAT scores (higher than many other pre-law majors).
  • Philosophy majors score highest in every section of the GRE of all humanities majors.
  • Philosophy majors have higher GMAT scores than business majors and higher than all other humanities majors.

The reason for this is simple: philosophy teaches general reasoning and problem-solving skills that are highly valued by employers. Rather than learning particular facts that may become quickly out of date or be relevant to only a handful of jobs, philosophy teaches you widely applicable problem-solving and reasoning skills. Thus, the study of philosophy is excellent preparation for wide variety of different careers, and enables you to switch easily from one career to another.

To see some of the career paths that UMKC philosophy graduates have taken (including law, medicine, and education) check out our alumni profiles.

Here are some quotes from a variety of media articles on the phenomenon:

  • In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined

    (The New York Times)

    “Once scoffed at as a luxury major, philosophy is being embraced at Rutgers and other universities by a new generation of college students who are drawing modern-day lessons from the age-old discipline as they try to make sense of their world, from the morality of the war in Iraq to the latest political scandal. The economic downturn has done little, if anything, to dampen this enthusiasm among students, who say that what they learn in class can translate into practical skills and careers.”
  • Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major?

    (The Atlantic)
  • I Think, Therefore I Earn

    (The Guardian)

    “Philosophy graduates are suddenly all the rage with employers.”

    “It is in the fields of finance, property development, health, social work and the nebulous category of "business" that those versed in Plato and Kant are most sought after.”

    Lucy Adams, human resources director of Serco, a services business and a consultancy firm, says: "Philosophy lies at the heart of our approach to recruiting and developing our leadership, and our leaders. We need people who have the ability to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues. These skills are promoted by philosophical approaches."

    Fiona Czerniawska, director of the Management Consultancies Association's think tank, says: "A philosophy degree has trained the individual's brain and given them the ability to provide management-consulting firms with the sort of skills that they require and clients demand. These skills can include the ability to be very analytical, provide clear and innovative thinking, and question assumptions."

    Deborah Bowman, associate dean for widening participation at St George's, University of London, which offers medicine and health sciences courses, says philosophers are increasingly sought after by the NHS: "Graduates of philosophy who come in to graduate-entry medicine, or to nursing courses, are very useful. Growth areas in the NHS include clinical ethicists, who assist doctors and nurses. Medical ethics committees and ethics training courses for staff are also growing. More and more people are needed to comment on moral issues in healthcare, such as abortion."
  • More seek philosophy degrees as a basis for kicking off other careers

    (Denver Post)

    ”Philosophy majors are not just contemplating the meaning of life — they are also launching careers in law, medicine, business and high technology.

    Philosophy is especially worthy in a weak economy when students are lucky to find decent jobs in any field, Kneller said. "Having a degree in philosophy is good nowadays precisely because it prepares you for a variety of job situations," she said.