The Value Of These Professional Skills
As you think about the career opportunities a philosophy major provides, there are three things to consider:
- What professional or career skills will I gain from majoring in philosophy?
- Why/how are these skills valuable?
- What types of employment will be open to me?
A major in philosophy provides the finest in a liberal arts education A liberal arts education helps you gain basic skills in critical thinking, argumentation, communication, information management, design and planning, research and investigation, and management and administration. These skills are absolutely essential for success in virtually every career path – this is especially true in today’s information age.
critical thinking skills
The ability to identify the key issues in decision-making or problem solving; to identify a general principle that links together related problems, points, data; to define the parameters of a problem.
The ability to use argumentation techniques to persuade others; to reason from premises to conclusions; to assess the implications of a position which has been taken.
The ability to summarize the content of a message clearly and objectively; to differentiate fact from value; to express one’s point of view without violating others’ rights; and to explain ideas and principles to others.
The ability to sort data; to compile and rank information; to compile and evaluate information; and to use this information to solve problems.
design and planning skills
The ability to look at a problem from different angles and identify alternative courses of action.
research and investigation skills
The ability to seek out information; to identify problems and needs; to systematically define a problem; to formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic, or issue.
management and administration skills
The ability to analyze tasks and set priorities; to identify resource materials useful in the solution of a problem.
The Value of these Professional Skills
Four reasons why these skills are very valuable:
First, these are basic skills. ‘Basic skills’ are the reasoning, researching, planning, and communication tools you need to successfully problem solve, communicate, and argue effectively. All employers are looking for people who have these skills. They can help you to land your first job as well as advance on the job.
Second, “Business leaders most frequently cite the ability to learn in new situations and the capacity to analyze, evaluate, and interpret data information management as two of the most important qualities that successful executives must possess” (What’ Can I Do With a Major in’…? by Lawrence R. Malnig and Anita Malnig, p. 147). All of the skills listed above prepare you to be able to learn in a new situation. In fact, corporate executives of a number of large companies find that “students of the humanities [including philosophy] tend to learn fast and advance quickly” (Careers for Philosophers, American Philosophical Association publication, p.31).
Third, all of these skills are often referred to as transferable skills. They are not job-specific. You can take these skills with you from one setting to another. This is critically important given the latest prediction that in your professional/career lifetime, you can expect to hold 10-12 jobs in three to five different fields.
Fourth, these skills prepare you to be a life-long learner, both professionally and personally. The value of being able to learn on the job has already been discussed. These skills also give you the basics you need to find personal satisfaction in pursuing just about any area of interest- reading, writing, sports, gardening, music, chess, politics…
There are many areas of employment open to graduates with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. These include:
administration/managementt – in such diverse areas as personnel; financial aid; or public relations. Employment settings might include college or university; prisons; hospitals; government agencies (county, state or federal); private companies
business – management, sales, consulting public relations, fund raising, systems analysis, advertising, banking
government – congressional staff member, federal agencies and bureaus, state and local governments, United Nations, foreign service, cultural affairs
insurance– agent, broker
journalism – reporter, critic (books, dance, film)
publishing/writing – sales, editing, management, freelance, technical writing for a company or government, script writer
preprofessional training – A philosophy major also provides excellent undergraduate preparation for Iaw school, MBA programs, medical school and seminary:
On the standardized tests for law school (LSAT), philosophy majors rank third highest in performance (mathematics majors are first and economics majors are second). On the GMAT (standardized test for graduate level business programs) philosophy majors rank second highest (with mathematics majors first). Philosophy majors rank first on the standardized verbal tests for graduate school (GRE/verbal).
The department highly recommends that you supplement your course work with a Professional Practice/lnternship experience to enhance your job skills. For more information contact the Philosophy Department Office