If you are studying philosophy or interested in doing so, you may be aware that careers in this sector are more limited than others. However, this doesn’t mean that a career in philosophy isn’t worth pursuing.
A job directly related to philosophy will see you pursue your interests and share your knowledge of the subject with others. Plus, a philosophy career will help you develop transferable skills which are useful in a variety of other industries.
- Why work in philosophy?
- What careers are available in philosophy?
- What skills are needed to work in philosophy?
- What degrees help with a career in philosophy?
Why work in philosophy?
Go into a range of sectors
Starting out in a career in philosophy may not be as straightforward as going into nursing or teaching – but its broad nature means you could secure a job across a range of sectors. Rather than getting experience that is only relevant for one industry, a philosophy career will enable you to acquire a strong set of transferrable skills, such as good communication, problem solving and an analytical mindset.
Have a genuine impact
Not all careers are about the pursuit of money or success. If you have a degree in philosophy and would like the opportunity to share philosophical teachings with others, you could go into teaching, publishing, or stick to the academic route and become a professor or researcher.
The chance to help others
Lots of people with a philosophy qualification don’t directly work in philosophy, but instead use what they learned in their studies to support others. Lots of philosophy graduates go into social work, work for the civil service or for non-profit organisations and charities.
What careers are available in philosophy?
Although there aren’t lots of jobs directly related to philosophy, there are many careers where a philosophy degree is useful.
Jobs directly related to a philosophy degree:
If you would like to stay within academia, there are a few philosophy careers available:
- Professor or lecturer – teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students in lectures, seminars and tutorials. You would also undertake your own research related to philosophy as part of your department or institution’s contribution to philosophy. If you become a professor, you would be one of the most senior lecturers at your university.
- Academic researchers – to find out more about careers in academic research, take a look at our article.
Some secondary schools offer philosophy and ethical studies as part of their religious education, broadening the subjects to encompass more than just religious teachings. Find out more about being a teacher in our careers in education article.
Chaplains work for secular organisations. As a person of faith, chaplains offer support to those who need it. A chaplain mainly provides pastoral support, but where appropriate they can provide spiritual and religious guidance too.
Jobs where a philosophy degree might be useful:
Civil service, politics and government
Popular career options for people with philosophy degrees include working in the civil service, politics or local governments.
- Civil service – civil servants help the government to implement and develop policies. You could work in areas such as pensions, prisons or employment.
- Politics – philosophy is a popular degree choice among politicians. Politicians are professionally involved in politics and their job is to represent the people and influence the way a country is governed.
- Local government – they are responsible for providing services within a specific area, for example social care, schools and housing.
Charity or non-profit careers
You could put the transferrable skills you learnt during your philosophy degree to positive use by working for a charity or non-profit organisation. You could work across a variety of departments, from finance through to communications.
As a social worker, you could work with young offenders, migrants or refugees, or the elderly. Discover more about being a social worker in our careers in health and social care article.
Policy and law
Interested in contributing to how society is run? Another route for people interested in philosophy jobs is to go into policy research or social research.
- Policy officer – carry out research to develop and shape policies that are proposed by think tanks, governments or businesses.
- Social research – a similar role to policy officer, but you would look specifically at social policy making, for example housing, disability, crime and justice, plus many more.
If you’re interested in a career in law, have a read of our article.
Journalists write and research stories for radio, TV, local and national newspapers, magazines and online websites.
During your philosophy studies, you are bound to pick up skills such as written and verbal communication, research and analytical thinking. These skills would put you in good stead for a career as a journalist.
Marketing, PR or advertising
If you enjoyed the more creative side of your philosophy qualification, a career in marketing, PR or advertising could be a good option for you. Find out more about these job roles in our article on careers in the media industry.
Publishing is the act of making information accessible to the public, either for free or for a price. There are many different types of publishing, from books and magazines, through to music.
What skills are needed to work in philosophy?
- A genuine passion for your subject – you will need to absorb yourself in the area of philosophy you go into.
- Written and verbal communication skills – philosophers deal with big topics and communicate complex ideas and theories in an accessible, persuasive and engaging way.
- Critical and analytical thinking –analysing text, images, thoughts and ideas is a large part of a philosophy career.
- Creativity – being able to think outside of the box and approach your work with an inquisitive nature.
- Self-motivated – this will be required when conducting independent research.
- Flexibility and adaptability – philosophy requires you to remain open-minded and allow for new ways of thinking and doing things.
- Time keeping – particularly if you go into the research side of things, you’ll need to keep on top of deadlines and prioritise your workload effectively.
If you are interested in a specific field within philosophy, we would suggest finding adverts for those roles and reading through the job description and person specification. Here you can identify the skills and experience you already have and where you need to improve in order to meet the essential criteria for the role.
Take a look at the graduate skills that employers are looking for.
What degrees help with a career in philosophy?
The majority of people with philosophy careers will have studied an undergraduate degree in philosophy. If you are interested in the academic/research field of philosophy, going onto further study could be useful. Areas such as politics, ethics, sociology may be of interest to you.
For a lot of careers related to philosophy, an undergraduate degree will be enough to get onto the first step of the career ladder. However, if you are interested in pursuing a teaching career, then you must have a degree and achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). For a career in law, you will have to pursue further qualifications within this sector.
Last updated on 28 February 2023Share this article