Careers of Philosophy Majors


You majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, but decided not to pursue any further degrees in philosophy. What are you doing now?

Tell us about it.

This post is by request of a philosophy professor who wrote:

I wonder if you might think about creating a place for folks with undergraduate degrees in philosophy to post what careers they have found themselves in. I am sure lots of folks read Daily Nous because of an interest in philosophy sparked as undergrads (my students do). It would really help with recruiting philosophy majors if we could show them (and their parents) what sorts of jobs folks get with a degree in it. I frequently use the lists of famous people who studied philosophy, but something more realistic would be good.

So if you have a bachelor’s in philosophy (but not an MA or PhD in it), please tell us about your career. Thanks!


By the way, here’s one of those lists of famous people who studied philosophy, and here’s another, and one more. Several years ago, David Boersema (Pacific) put together a book of brief essays by philosophy majors at his school about their varied careers. Oh, and there’s this guy. Perhaps the answers here will serve to counterbalance things like this.

 

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Thadeus Smith
Thadeus Smith
1 month ago

I teach high school Speech and Debate

Nicholas Hall
Nicholas Hall
1 month ago

I work as a technical writer. I will say, one odd thing I encounter is my degree not matching the job despite having experience and other qualifications that do. Recruiters count this as a strike against me.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago

I do have additional degrees in other fields (MA in Asian cultures and languages and PhD in Communication and Culture) where I feel like I did bring my undergraduate philosophical training to bear, writing about philosophical topics in Japanese film. However, the academic job market being what it is, I currently work as an IT team lead for a local credit union. Perhaps my undergrad logic classes ended up being the most useful to my eventual career.

Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson
1 month ago

I went straight from college to law school and have been a practicing attorney for 30 years. As much as I enjoyed majoring in philosophy, I knew that academia was not for me.

Sara
Sara
1 month ago

I currently work in university research compliance. I used to work in non-profit arts fundraising.

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

I did get a philosophy MA in a terminal program but I don’t think that makes my job opportunities much different from someone with a BA.

I’m a data engineer now. I’d echo what Nicholas Hall and Brian said. Having an educational background in logic helps a lot with the actual work. Having an educational background that doesn’t match the job makes it harder to convince recruiters. That said, if you can make it past recruiter screenings, actual engineers and managers in the field tend to recognize the value of having people with different backgrounds on their teams.

Interested Grad Student
Interested Grad Student
Reply to  Alex
1 month ago

I’m curious for my own plans (if applications don’t pan out especially) what the path from MA in philosophy to data engineer is like? Did you attend a boot-camp, post-bacc etc.?

Alex
Alex
Reply to  Interested Grad Student
1 month ago

I had kind of a unique situation but the short version is that I taught myself how to make AI for different projects I was interested in. Coworkers at the job I had at the time kept telling me I should make a career out of it, so I got a data analytics professional certificate from Google. The certificate and my portfolio got me my first job as an analyst. The company I was with gave me a lot of leeway to do things however I wanted and, within a year, they moved me to engineering because I my work was gravitating in that direction anyway.

Interested Grad Student
Interested Grad Student
Reply to  Alex
1 month ago

Thanks!

Jakob Odell
Jakob Odell
Reply to  Alex
28 days ago

Same here! Was a software engineer for 10 years which led into data engineering for another 10. Logic, argumentation, openness, perspective are all philosophic tools I’ve used with software and teammates.

hhwk
hhwk
1 month ago

After getting a degree in philosophy, I have worked in various jobs: copywriter, web designer, legal assistant, data analysis, and some local journalism and freelance writing. Then went back to graduate school eventually.

Last edited 1 month ago by hhwk
Ben Hippen
1 month ago

I practiced general and transplant nephrology for two decades, while publishing on related topics in bioethics and public policy. A few years ago, I left practice for a position in medical industry, but I still publish. Training in philosophy changed the course of my career (for the better). I highly recommend it for undergraduates hoping to pursue a career in the health professions, who have the interest in and temperment for studying philosophy.

Rollo Burgess
1 month ago

I did my BA in Philosophy & Politics; I did do an MA too but that was in Political Theory (although a reasonable proportion of what I studied was actually philosophy).

I am a management consultant; this doesn’t mean very much in itself as it covers lots of quite different activities. What I actually do is work with investment banks on major programmes typically related to regulatory or market structure change, technology change, and currently M&A activity.

Nicholas Gall
1 month ago

I graduated in 1981 with a degree in Philosophy and a minor in Computer Science. Immediately after college I did a work study program at Honeywell and got my MS in CS. I then worked in IT until age 30 when I went to law school. I only worked as an attorney for about three years. I then became an IT analyst at Gartner for 18 years. After that, I went to IBM to train product managers how to apply Design Thinking for several years. Now I’m retired and writing a book proposing a philosophy I call Fruitionism. Throughout it all, my background in philosophy has been a real asset!

charles adams
charles adams
Reply to  Nicholas Gall
1 month ago

Fruitionism…?

Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson
1 month ago

I’m actually in academia, just as a Systems Administrator

Andrew S Koivuniemi
Andrew S Koivuniemi
1 month ago

I went to medical school and became a neurosurgeon because of my interest in philosophy of mind. During training I became far more in ethics and pursued a fellowship in clinical ethics. I am now a practicing neurosurgeon in a Midwest college town. I guest lecture in the philosophy department and and serve on our hospital’s ethics committee.

Laura Miller
1 month ago

I have a BA and MA in Phil, applied ethics. I was prelaw and am certified in gender studies and DEI. I’m working in AI ethics and present at industry (tech) talks internationally. I’ve also been recognized by NASA and the US State Department recently sponsored a trip to Thailand for me to speak. I couldn’t do this work without my philosophy degrees.

Josh
Josh
1 month ago

I travel and play poker professionally part time and I study and write philosophy part time. I absolutely love it.

Carl
1 month ago

I’m a psychotherapist. I went on to earn my Master’s in counseling, and view my professional work as a practical application of philosophy.

Pamela Ryan
Pamela Ryan
Reply to  Carl
1 month ago

Me too— after 15 years in academia

Euro
Reply to  Carl
1 month ago

Philosophy to psychotherapy seems like a reasonable path to take. Unfortunately, in Scandinavia, to apply for a master’s in counceling or clinical psychology you have to have a BA in the same subject. With some exceptions, a BA in philosophy will not qualify you for much else than a master’s in philosophy. I think philosophy as a subject or as a major would be more popular here if it wasn’t a one way street.

Justin R
Justin R
Reply to  Carl
25 days ago

Exactly the same for me

Thaddeus Dugan
Thaddeus Dugan
1 month ago

I am a minor in philosophy. I write books for a living. The writing and research needed to complete my philosophy minor was instrumental in creating a precise understanding of perfect word formations. It isn’t easy, but it pays large dividends in my ability to critical think. And someday I will be a household name. I encourage college students to at least minor in philosophy, and upon graduation when looking back, you’ll be amazed at the growth. Because growth only becomes apparent in retrospect.

Peter Owens
Peter Owens
1 month ago

If I may respond in a bit different manner: I have a BA in Religion and an MA in Phil and I umpire and train umpires. My philosophy training has been invaluable for learning/teaching rules interpretation in sports!

Josh Dunigan
1 month ago

I majored in philosophy but got a job in software engineering, but that’s because I was doing computer science for most of undergrad.

All men are mortal, Anon is a man, Therefore
All men are mortal, Anon is a man, Therefore
1 month ago

Full-time mortal

Andrew Wilcox
1 month ago

I recently graduated BA honours in Phil paired with a minor in professional writing, and will be attending an MA program in the fall.

In the meantime, I launched my own freelance writing business that offers copywriting, editing, and writing tutoring services. I’m also tutoring some philosophy undergraduates. I don’t get requests for copywriting and editing (I’m more or less terrible at marketing my business), but there’s a demand for philosophy tutoring and aid with academic writing.

I also did a short stint as a research assistant.

Bashu Pule
Bashu Pule
1 month ago

I have master’s degree in mental health and currently struggling with master of philosophy in ethics of mental health due to financial constraints and the course demands. I work in forensic Mr BT health and would like to pursue PhD studies majoring in philosophy.

Harry Donahue
Harry Donahue
1 month ago

Back in the 1960s I studied for the Catholic priesthood
Back then you had no choice. You had to get a BA in philosophy (I actually found it kind of dry and boring). After leaving the seminary, I found that I could get state certified in Latin, English and Social Studies for public school in an eastern state. I taught Latin and Social Studies for about 12 years, then got my MA in Guidance and Counseling. Retired after a total of 30 years in.public schools. Never did anything with philosophy

Dan Levesque
Dan Levesque
1 month ago

I have a BA in philosophy (2014), and I currently work as a Senior Business Systems Analyst in a Fintech company. I was promoted to a Business Analyst position nearly 5 years ago because I had a good understanding of how IT Systems worked, but never knew it was a job I’d be interested in before then. I think a background in philosophy really helps when writing out requirements in a clear/logical way for software engineers to understand, and also helps with being able to reason through technical problems.

My degree has never come up when applying for a job, but most people who hear about it find it interesting (I work with a lot of Information Systems and Computer Science majors). I’ve dreamt of doing an MA in Philosophy for the past decade, but it would probably do nothing for me career-wise unless I was going to make a significant career change.

Euro
1 month ago

Maybe this is mostly applicable to Scandinavia, but a degree in the humanities does not (according to the statistics) fare too good here. This is also my own experience. I have a MA in philosophy and work at a warehouse in a factory. The sentiment is that people go to university to get a vocation, and work recruiters and interviewers seem confused by a philosophy degree or any university degree that is not directly in line towards the job that you are applying for. A university degree by itself is not very marketable when applying for jobs here. From what I understand, in the USA you study right after highschool and any university degree in USA is in itself a merit towards any job(?) so people are encouraged to go to college even if they do not have a career path in mind, but in Scandinavia you go to university later in life (in Sweden apparently the average age to start university is at 25 years old, with 20% starting after 30 years old) often with the motivation of training towards a specific vocation. So, because the sentiment is that you go to university with a future profession in mind, a philosophy degree (or a humanities degree) by itself will probably not get you far when applying for work outside academia unfortunately.

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  Euro
1 month ago

I’ve lived and worked in Germany for several years now, and the highly vocation-minded approach to education here is also a bit jarring to me as an American. Students are expected to have concrete career plans *before* attending university (or vocational school, or a work-study program) and then they study for that career specifically. And almost every career path has some specific course of study as a prerequisite. But the idea that 18-year olds do, or even should, have a clear career plan already is ridiculous to me. In this respect, the liberal-education approach of US unis is clearly superior.

Euro
Reply to  sahpa
1 month ago

According to a quick google search, the average age that German students first enroll at university is 23.6 years old. So, although there is incentive to have a clear career path before starting university, neither Scandinavia nor Germany seem to expect that of 18-years old. My impression is that you don’t attend university until you have a path figured out, usually somewhere in your mid-twenties. I guess one argument against the US liberal-education approach is that by the time you reach your mid-twenties and have some insight about a career path, you will have a sizable amount of student loans already that will deter you from taking up a vocational-focused university degree.

Kate Clark
Kate Clark
Reply to  Euro
1 month ago

My husband has a BA in Philosophy and we are in the US. He got his degree just as you said, to have a degree, but didn’t plan to use it for a career. He also works in a warehouse and doesn’t use his degree. All it shows is that he has higher education training, but using it practically for a job is hard to come by for him. He wasn’t interested in teaching.

Michael Mendelson
Michael Mendelson
1 month ago

I’m 75 and now semi retired. After completing an honours degree in (analytic) philosophy in an out of the way university in Western Canada, I was accepted for a doctoral program at an ivy league US university. For the heck of it I simultaneously wrote a civil service exam, and ended up getting a job offer there as well. Having no money, I accepted the civil service position and ended up having a great career, rising to the highest level. I have been in the position of having to hire many people in my career. I was always happy to hire someone who did well as an undergraduate philosophy student. If you want someone who can think rigorously and critically, nothing beats a philosophy degree. Subject knowledge can always be attained.

Neurobitter
Neurobitter
1 month ago

I work in Corporate Communications at a Big4. Have a BA in Philosophy.

Kelly
Kelly
1 month ago

I am a high school teacher in Scotland. I teach RMPS (Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies) for 11 – 18s. This covers things like world religions, moral topics such as animal rights, abortion and euthanasia; and philosophical topics like origins of the universe, philosophy of religion and utilitarianism. I also teach Philosophy to 16 – 18s covering Hume, Kant, Descartes, Bentham and Mill. We have a good uptake and the pupils love discussing these big topics. I have also worked for local council in administrative jobs. After 10 years in teaching I am not sure how much longer I will last with the workload but so happy to be able to talk about Philosophy on a daily basis.

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

I did my BA in Philosophy and hold an MBA. Started my career as a digital marketing manager. After a year and half, joined an SME (small and medium enterprise with a worforce of 128 employees) and was made a director of business development). Was working there for 3 years. During the weekend, I also teach master students; working professionals at a local business school. This prepared me to join an Engineering school as head of corporate partnerships. Worked in that school for 3 years. I am now in another Business school as Head of Business and Management department.

Coming from American liberal arts background, I have acquired knowedge in English 101 and 102, Algebra I and II, political science, economics, anthropoloygy, history, sociology, physics, and chemistry, and a whole bunch of courses in philosophy. 2 elective courses in German also prepare me well. And finally my business and management study in MBA offers me so many opportunities. I am teaching all business related courses which are strongly supported by my 7 years of working in the industry.

I might be quite a generalist with some areas of focus in a few subjects. But i think and believe, i can handle different types of conversations which spring from general science to politics to economics and business within my knowledge level.

Philosophy prepares me to be more analytical, critical and structural.

My next career move is to be a COO or General Manager in a company or to be a principal of a local franchise school.

In terms of concrete hands-on skills, i am training myself to be a data analyst.

Paul Taborsky
1 month ago

I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy, and teach first year composition at a community college. I have a number of academic publications, though, so perhaps I really should haved remained in academia!

anderd
anderd
1 month ago

Ended up going back to grad school (got funding) but before this I got a job doing research/report writing in a boutique consulting firm, which specialized in strategic planning. They really needed people that were good writers who could figure out how to do basic market research. It helped that I had some computer skills, especially excel. But it was a good job and it paid reasonably well. All my coworkers had masters degrees and at some point taken a philosophy class and they knew it was a difficult subject, so they were impressed by my philosophy degree.

Dylan
Dylan
1 month ago

I have a BA in Philosophy and ended up taking a job in Commercial underwriting immediately out of college as Credit Analyst. In full disclosure I had a personal connection to hiring manager which is probably the only reason I got the job. That said, I’ve been able to “rise through the ranks” over the last 18 years, and have been told it’s because of my ability to think strategically and communicate complex ideas in a straight forward manner (working 60-80 hours a week at times and being willing to give up holidays and weekends doesn’t hurt either).

I fully believe my Philosophy courses, especially Logic, prepared me with skill sets that are needed to succeed as an senior leader in the finance industry. I’m not sure if it would translate elsewhere, but I have a suspicious it would.

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

I double majored in Philosophy and Psychological Sciences and I am starting a PhD program on Cognitive Neuroscience. There are a number of final careers I might end up at

Dylan Mccall
Dylan Mccall
1 month ago

I’m a broken down backyard lawn mower calendar model

Brian Cornish
Brian Cornish
1 month ago

I developed a map of the Australian financial system but could not persuade anyone else of its value. My colleagues being self-selected accountants did not seem to understand my philosophical approach to regulation. I’m certain I’m not a deluded crank. Valuable ideas can be lost to societies not trained to properly consider them. Pragmatism and commonsense or just plain ignorance and lack of curiosity are societies’ loss.

Alexis Mundy
Alexis Mundy
1 month ago

I gained a BA in Philosophy and about to start postgraduate honours in Philosophy!

Nazario
Nazario
29 days ago

I work as a public administrator in Kenya

Oedipa Maas
Oedipa Maas
29 days ago

BA in philosophy and now in nursing school doing wildland firefighting (USA) during summer break.

Last edited 29 days ago by Oedipa Maas
MathStudent
MathStudent
29 days ago

Ten years later I went back to school to do a second bachelor’s in mathematics, which I am finishing up this year. Before that I taught myself to code and was working in front end development and data analytics, but I did not like it so much.

I plan to pursue mathematics academically. Another thing is there is a surprising number of students in my classes (bachelors or masters) who either studied philosophy or are studying it concurrently.

Morgan Clouser
Morgan Clouser
28 days ago

Bachelors in Philosophy (May 2023) and now I work in higher education- as an admissions counselor!

Patrick Miner
28 days ago

Construction glue Philosophy? My degree in Philosophy prepared me to ask the best questions. The “stickiness” of philosophy marked me as the odd guy in commercial lending. Every room in my house is a sanctuary for stuff of philosophy. Today it sticks all over my hobby; podcaster. Always stuck. In my mid 70’s I know the value of the subject!

Corey
Corey
27 days ago

BA in Philosophy (2011). Managed a piercing and tattoo studio for two years after graduation. I then managed to turn an entry-level position at a fintech start up into an Operations and Program Manager position at a cybersecurity company. The pay and hours are great. My degree helps me to help colleagues “understand how it all hangs together” in order to improve processes and mitigate operational inefficiency.

Nicholas Marinucci
Nicholas Marinucci
25 days ago

I know that compared to many here I’m pretty fresh out, but I graduated with a BA in philosophy in 2022, and currently work part-time at a small public library while continuing to pursue my Master’s in Library and Information Science. I really enjoy the work I do; just as a clerk so far, and I plan to stay in public libraries for a career (hopefully at a higher position one day). I actually find that there is a lot of applied philosophy involved: on-spot critical thinking skills, community applied ethics, and just general problem solving that I feel my degree in philosophy really helped prepare me for and tackle better!

QuenchGum
QuenchGum
25 days ago

I got my BA in Philosophy. I then completed some prerequisites in basic sciences and got into medical school. I’m in my 3rd year now and it’s going great. Philosophy is such a great background for medicine. With enough time and exposure anyone can learn medicine, but thinking critically and communicating clearly is not the same. Critical and logical thinking is severely lacking in the medical field which is full of bureaucracy, memorization and tradition. I have found that I really stand out to attendings and my peers because I’m so comfortable communicating my thoughts with confidence and clarity. I’m very comfortable challenging established thinking. These are all skills I learned and honed getting my BA in philosophy. I honestly can’t think of a better degree to prepare you for medical school.

Ed Black
Ed Black
25 days ago

I am an intellectual property, technology, and data lawyer, working primarily in IP litigation

Diana Cole
Diana Cole
23 days ago

I am a retired Air Force officer and violin maker.

Troy Deters
Troy Deters
21 days ago

I did my B.A. and M.A. in philosophy. I have now been unemployed for about 11 years. I was an adjunct philosophy professor for about 7 years but that did not work out. My advice is choose another major!

David Lu
David Lu
17 days ago

I did my BA in philosophy and quit a philosophy PhD program, so maybe I don’t count but nobody seems to care about what my degrees are in.

Afterward, I taught myself how to program and became a full time faculty member in a CS department, teaching courses such as intro to programming, data structures, algorithms and complexity, theory of computation, discrete math, and ethics of computing.

These days I work in cybersecurity research in industry, studying how state-backed hackers break into computer systems and networks and writing code to detect and classify that kind of behavior. I also write and speak about my research. I still occasionally adjunct teach here and there.

Krasimira Georgieva
Krasimira Georgieva
13 days ago

I teach philosophy and citizenship in high school (in Bulgaria).

Jahi Omari
Jahi Omari
12 days ago

I currently work in healthcare as a case manager for HIV patients and I oversee HIV testing for my department