why study philosophy? (#1)

Occasionally I post links to news items, data, or discussions that illuminate practical reasons one might study—or major in—philosophy. This is salary survey data from PayScale Inc. (2008), which suggests that people with undergraduate degrees in philosophy fare quite well financially—especially in mid-career. The Wall Street Journal refers to this study:

Your parents might have worried when you chose Philosophy or International Relations as a major. But a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor’s degree by PayScale Inc. shows that graduates in these subjects earned 103.5% and 97.8% more, respectively, about 10 years post-commencement. Majors that didn’t show as much salary growth include Nursing and Information Technology.

There are some surprising numbers in this study; for example, the mid-career median salary for those with philosophy undergraduate degrees is $81,200; while it is $72,100 for those with undergraduate degrees in Business Management.

Referring to this and other data, a 2009 Forbes article entitled “The College Degrees With The Biggest Salaries,” reports,

For starting salaries, engineering and things like nursing are pretty strong,” says Dr. Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at PayScale. “But the list reorders further into people’s careers. . . . If you looked at the pay of people 15 years out, philosophy is actually in the top 10%.”