What can I do with a philosophy degree?

Philosophy graduates are naturally suited to careers in research or politics. They may also seek jobs in charity work or publishing, or decide to train as lawyers.

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Philosophy students tend to have an inquisitive nature, and are willing to question just about anything and everything.

They are naturally suited to careers in research or politics. Plenty of philosophy graduates go on to work with charities, and publishing is also a popular choice.

This guide should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available. You can also find out about the areas philosophy graduates are interested in working in, and the types of job they are typically working in six months after graduation.

Skills for your CV

You will have the following skills and abilities:

  • logical and analytical thinking and reasoning
  • problem solving
  • written and oral communication – presentation of ideas and information
  • able to interpret, condense and clarify information
  • a significant amount of creativity
  • able to formulate your own opinions and defend them in debate
  • curiosity, and lateral thinking
  • the ability to interpret and analyse a variety of different information
  • a willingness to debate any point

Job roles and career areas you could work in

With further qualifications or training, philosophy graduates could be well suited to the following job roles:

What do philosophy graduates go on to do?

Here’s what graduates of historical and philosophical studies who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around 15 months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 47
Part-time employment in the UK 11
Voluntary or unpaid work 3
Working and studying 11
Further study 13
Unemployed 6

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for philosophy graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 graduates of philosophical and historical studies around 15 months after graduation, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Education 19
Wholesale and retail trade 11
Professional, scientific and technical 11
Arts, entertainment and recreation 8
Public administration and defence 8

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract history and philosophy students?

The public sector was the most popular career choice for students of history and philosophy identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Just under on in ten (8%) of history and philosophy students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of history and philosophy were as follows:

Career Percentage
Public sector 8% expressed an interest
Law – barristers 7.3
Media and advertising 6.5
Law – solicitors 6.4
Banking, insurance and financial services 3.8

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can graduates who studied philosophy and religion earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided TARGETjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with philosophy degrees

If none of these career paths are up your street, there are plenty of other options available. Take a leaf from the following philosophy graduates:

  • Ricky Gervais – the comedian and actor studied at University College London.
  • Jack Gleeson – decided to quit professional acting and attend Trinity College Dublin, after his character Joffrey Baratheon was killed on Game of Thrones.

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