University of Otago emblem    Philosophy


A degree in philosophy is an excellent way of developing the sort of critical thinking skills that employers say they want, and there is considerable evidence that philosophy students have exceptionally good career prospects.

Many surveys of salary by degree only concern salary after a few years of graduation, which can be misleading. A survey of 1.2 million degree holders by PayScale, Inc., cited in the Wall Street Journal, shows that Philosophy majors increase their starting salary by 103.5% after 10 years, and equal best with mathematics among all majors. The overall mid career salary for a philosophy major at the 75th percentile is 127,000 U.S. dollars, 9th among all 50 majors surveyed.

According to Forbes, a degree in philosophy offers the best financial return of any humanities degree. What's more, a philosophy degree has become "tech's hottest ticket".

See also this recent report in the Atlantic, as well as older articles from the Campus Review, the Sydney Morning Herald (and another article), the New York Times, and the Guardian.

Summing up

A degree in Philosophy can equip you for just about anything. Employers recognise the valuable analytical and problem-solving skills that come with a degree in philosophy.

Here is some useful advice (from the Australasian Association of Philosophy) on how to make your philosophy degree work for you when you enter the job market.


We recently took a destinations survey of 100 people who graduated with a Philosophy major from Otago in the last 10 years. Here is what our graduates told us:

WHO WILL EMPLOY ME? Otago philosophy graduates work for: government (NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Inland Revenue; Auckland Libraries; Office of the Auditor General, Wellington; Canterbury District Health Board; Ministry of Education; Highlands Intermediate; City of Vancouver; Ministry of Justice; NZTA; Accident Compensation Corporation; Department of Conservation); universities (Otago, Sydney, Melbourne, East Anglia, Samoa, University College London, Oxford, Ghent, British Colombia, Waikato); professional groups (law, accounting, sales and marketing, finance, private research institutes).

WHAT JOBS CAN I DO? Our graduates work as: Museum Curator; Corporate Jet Pilot; Glacier Guide; International Luxury Goods Consultant; Policy Analyst; Librarian; Information Management Consultant; Accounting Technician; Performance Auditor; Data Manager; Solicitor; Marketing Consultant; Sales Representative; Visual Effects Artist; Psychiatric Nurse; Economic Advisor to the Minister of Finance; Diplomat; Clinical Psychologist; Insurance Broker; Projects and Events Coordinator; Lecturer; Teacher; Tutor; Revegetation Planting Ranger; Chartered Accountant; TV Journalist; Judge's Clerk.

WHERE CAN I LIVE? Our graduates live in: Vienna, Austria; London, England; Da Nang, Vietnam; Shenyang, China; Frankfurt, Germany; Vancouver, Canada; Ghent, Belgium; Ibiza, Spain; Jeju City, Korea; Berlin, Germany; Hong Kong; Singapore; Nara, Japan; New Orleans, USA; all over New Zealand and Australia.