Stumbled onto this forum and saw lots of threads with a title similar to the above, complete with predictable responses about the degree being what you make of it, worthwhile-in-itself or, conversely, a waste of time, or unemployable. I thought I would give a more rounded view for anyone worried about their job prospects.
Firstly, if you're worried that the only career which philosophy directly leads into is teaching, then don't, because it doesn't. You will be hard pressed to find a job teaching actual A Level Philosophy (not RS), and there is no direct training route available for philosophy (only RS). A Level Philosophy is only offered by AQA, and it is, in my experience, much closer to the methodology and content of a university course than RS; the fact this makes it more difficult, and that there are not many teachers with philosophy degrees, means most schools plump for RS instead. Obviously you can go into teaching as a philosophy grad (I did briefly) but the other humanities offer a more direct route into teaching the subject you studied at university.
Secondly, take any claims about what employers do or do not like with a large pinch of salt. Most people who make such claims are either basing it on their own, highly selective, experience, or referring to a study they read about in the paper which is likely to have had an angle one way or the other. Many employers will not have the faintest what philosophy involves, nor will most people you meet, or, indeed, who offer their two pence on the subject. Therefore, do not waste your energies, as I once did, worrying about what such people may or may not think.
Thirdly, chances are that if you are seriously considering a philosophy degree, then you are not overly concerned about raking in the big bucks. A degree in philosophy will not prevent you from earning a six figure salary in the city, but there are likely less cumbersome routes to such a goal. That said, the journey from idealism to pragmatism is sometimes completed over the course of an undegraduate degree. A lot of people who I graduated with took an MA or a conversion course in something related to a particular career: law, medicine, public policy, computer science etc. Provided you are a capable student, doing philosophy will make you brighter, and hence further study easier.
The major drawback philosophy as a degree in its own right has in regards to the job market, and it is not alone in this respect, is that it is not a numerical subject. People with mathematical skills do often take to philosophy as both require logical rigour, but generally this is because they have become more pre-occupied with theory than practice. Entry-level jobs which require quantitative skills tend to be better-paid, while those which require 'soft skills' tend to be lower (likely because there is a greater supply of the latter, and less of the former). As a result, at least when you come out of university, you will likely face more competition for work than if you had studied something with a numerical component. So, it would be fair to say you can expect an easier life and a higher salary after graduation having studied something like engineering or physics. Incidentally, anyone gloating from such a position would do well to remember that if everyone took a numerical degree, this advantage would soon disappear. Indeed, the way education is headed, I sometimes suspect that just as the degree lost its 'golden ticket' status, so too might the STEM subjects.
All of which is to say: do not base your choice of degree too heavily on the job market unless you are someone who is confident that they are very unlikely to ever veer from the striaght and narrow. Time and again you will hear people tell you that they never expected to be doing what they are doing at present. Bear in mind also, that much of what happens in the job market is beyond your control.
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Is a Philosophy degree worthwhile/employable/useless etc.? watch
- Thread Starter
- 08-02-2017 21:51
- 11-03-2018 13:43
Thank you, great post.
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