Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA, Career Advisor, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

What exactly is Philosophy? How does a Philosophy major or minor prepare you for a career? Philosophy involves thinking about some big questions in life and gives you the tools that will enable you to make informed judgments. Philosophy classes offer the space to think, write, and discuss one’s experiences broadly — not just the “how to?” but also the “why?” and the “why not?” Philosophy graduates acquire wide-ranging abilities that can be used in many professions to evaluate information, understand people, and develop creative solutions. Unlike some majors that prepare you to do a single, specific job or trade, philosophy is for people who realize the future job market is likely to change and that critical thinking and adaptability are essential for a successful career.

Having philosophy as a minor can prepare you for the industry you seek because it will broaden your capacities of skills, creativity, and critical thinking. For instance, philosophy can prepare you for a career in law. You are more inclined to read more carefully, understand the problematic text, and be a clear writer. Excellent doctors, engineers, and scientists think deeply about their work and its effects on other people and the world. For sociologists, philosophy provides concepts that apply to family, social, and work situations, which help us recognize and respond to ethical issues in the real world. I also feel that students have a greater chance of working their way up to the top as leaders quickly based on the skills they learn as a Philosophy major/minor.

What can students do with a philosophy degree?

Philosophy graduates develop valuable career skills, such as reading and understanding complicated materials, making logical arguments, explaining ideas clearly in oral and written form, and thinking about things from multiple perspectives. With all this, our students become the best teachers, business managers, lawyers, counselors, diplomats, nonprofit leaders, strategic planning directors, and so much more. Philosophy majors who apply their skills in the world of business tend to do well financially. A  Wall Street Journal article recently showed the median salaries of undergraduate philosophy majors ten years after graduation, compared to other majors, ranked 16th out of 50.

As I mentioned above, our students will need to be flexible and adaptable in their careers. COVID-19 has shown this to be true in almost all occupations. As philosophers, our students recognize that understanding how we work helps inform the need to feel that our jobs are meaningful. COVID-19 is also showing us something important about the social functions our working lives need. For instance, the need to connect and feeling rewarded in our job has a whole new meaning. Being able to apply this to your career can be the hidden strategy of succeeding at your job.