You’ve honed your dialectical skills, know the difference between deontological ethics and consequentialism, and mumble “…sophists…” under your breath while watching the talking heads on the news. Congratulations on finally becoming one of the decreasing number of philosophy graduates! All those hours spent writing research papers and reading German continentalism have given you a very unique skill set, and now it’s time to take a look at jobs for philosophy graduates! Making the transition from student life into the ‘real world’ can be jarring and leave you feeling like a prisoner in Plato’s cave. But just as our philosopher king ascends to the light, you’ll be climbing the ranks with your love of wisdom in one of these five jobs for philosophy graduates you may not have previously considered when job searching with your philosophy degree.
First things first…the value of jobs for philosophy graduates.
Graduating with a degree in the liberal arts is not as ‘worthless’ as your STEM friends would have you believe. There has always been a need for employees who can think critically and evaluate the relevance of critical information. Also, knowing how to conduct research and use secondary materials makes a difference. And, of course, being able to make connections with all the information that has been presented. All of these skills are typical qualities of philosophy graduates. They’re also all characteristics found in the employees of the jobs we’ve selected for your consideration. So polish up that CV and get ready to start looking for a position as a…
The relationship between philosophy and law is as old as both disciplines themselves. Philosophy graduates frequently make some of the best law school students. But you don’t need to be a lawyer in order to make a living in the legal field. A paralegal acts as the middle ground between a legal secretary and a lawyer. The work doesn’t require a legal degree and is often too rudimentary for a lawyer to bill their client for. On the other hand, it’s too time consuming for a secretary to add to their list of concerns. By giving the project to a paralegal, the firm can still bill the client for the work. Albeit at a substantially lower rate than an associate lawyer at the firm would bill for. Common responsibilities could include conducting or assisting depositions, drafting and serving subpoenas, and file management for client documents.
The hardest part of breaking into this field is gaining the confidence of a firm. They need to be willing to let you get your foot in the door at their office. Once you do find your way in, you’ll be able to expect an annual salary of around £25,000. This will grow with commensurate experience and abilities. Once you’ve established yourself and learned the ropes, you can easily find positions for £50,000 or more.
While the print media industry has definitely downsized since the rise of the internet, there’s still a huge demand for written content in both digital and print journalism. The ability to be an impartial neutral reporter of current events lends itself well to philosophy graduates who have learned to approach complex subjects from multiple angles. The ability to communicate effectively isn’t just a skill for English graduates. Learning to understand both sides of an argument was central to any philosophy graduates curriculum. There’s also the legal aspect to journalism. Understanding a news outlet’s legal protocol for sources and factual accuracy of the information you’re reporting is a crucial part of being a reliable journalist. But one thing you need to consider is learning shorthand. Even with the ubiquity of smartphones and the ability to record video and audio at the push of a button, it is imperative that you know how to write shorthand, and will need to demonstrate your knowledge of this before being considered for a position in the newsroom.
While it’s not easy to get a contracted job with a newspaper or media outlet without some experience, once you work towards your NCTJ qualification (NCTJ Diploma or NQJ after 18 months of employment) and be able to write shorthand at least 100 WPM, you should be able to entertain offers for £22,000 per year. Once you establish yourself and your portfolio of writing samples, you can expect something closer to £30,000.
Philosophy graduates should feel right at home in the world of books. But while council-run libraries are seeing a decline in membership, many private-run subscription libraries are opening up to fill the hole being left behind. And even though some cities are closing some of their libraries, there will continue to be a need for librarians to staff the ones that remain. There are multiple departments to consider from circulation to multimedia. However, if you plan to make a career as a librarian, you’ll definitely want to look into getting a library sciences degree, or at least a postgraduate qualification in Information management. Getting the latter would also allow you to find jobs in Information Management which would deal with document verification and research, as well as overseeing public information that pertains to the given project. Which are some of the tasks a library assistant would be responsible for.
Salaries will vary greatly depending on the type of library you work at. An entry level position at a public library will put you around £17,500 without any qualifications. However, after a few years of experience you’ll be somewhere closer to £30,000. University, government and law libraries will all pay slightly more. You can expect to be paid more with qualifications and any areas of expertise you may have.
The analytical mind and solid research skills of philosophy graduates are going to be right at home in the field of public policy. If delving into abstract issues and finding their practical application to policy matters are things that interest you, then working as a public policy officer is something you should consider. You’ll be expected to have an area of expertise and an interest in politics with an in-depth understanding of how to create and shape policy decisions. Having excellent communication skills will also be a must, as the bulk of your work will be spent dealing with public officials, politicians, and other policymakers all working together to get results. This might be a little intimidating at first, but with the drive and passion for influencing policy outcomes, your work will directly affect and shape policy in the real world. And who knows, perhaps you’ll find yourself looking for public policy managerial positions down the line.
You’ll find most starting positions in public policy will be offering somewhere in the neighborhood of £25,000. However, after gaining some experience, many public policy officers switch to consultant work where you can be paid anywhere from £30 to £45 an hour or more for your work. These jobs can often lead to lucrative positions in lobbying or in-house policy advisor roles for large companies. The sky’s the limit for an experienced policy maker.
Many liberal arts degree holders go into their desired field of study with the intention of becoming a teacher. Philosophy graduates are no different. However, it’s not very common to see a course in philosophy outside of a college classroom. This isn’t the case with being a religion teacher, though. Most religion classes will often incorporate different branches of philosophy and philosophy graduates, or even history graduates, are just as good as having a religious studies degree. It is imperative to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to get a position at most schools. However, it is possible, if not extremely rare, to get a job at an independent school or private academy without it. If you don’t have your QTS it’s still possible to start teaching while working towards certification.
The salary range is dependent on many variables, such as years of teaching experience, location of the school, and position held, like being a Head Teacher. The minimum you can expect would be £22,917 and it tops out at £28,660 for starting teachers. However, after teaching for a while you can expect to earn as much as £47,000. You could even grab £116,000 in a leadership position in the highest bracket. And don’t forget about all that vacation time!
With all of that in mind…
Whichever path you decide to go down, there are plenty of options out there for liberal arts degree holders. Start thinking outside the box and market your skills and experience instead of the title of your degree. You might even be able to work your way into the tech sector if you play your cards right.