Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Philosopher Kings: Don’t Rule Them Out Just Yet

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the best (and worst) jobs in the United States of America. (Click here to see the article.) Interestingly, philosopher comes in at a very respectable #12. I’m just pleased they thought to include the job of a philosopher in the cited study, given that philosophy is often stereotyped as leading absolutely nowhere. Even more exciting is the fact that philosophy ranked so high when two of the five criteria used to determine the rankings were (a) employment outlook and (b) income. (The other three criteria, in case you’re interested, are: work environment, the physical demands of the job, and job-related stress.) It looks like philosophy’s not such a bad move after all.

Several people I know and/or love might find the rankings interesting. The #1 job on the list is mathematician. (Congrats, sis!) The #2 job is that of an actuary, and I’ve known a couple of people who have considered that line of work. #9 is Industrial Designer, which is relevant to Melanie’s brother, and #18 is computer programmer, which many of us seem to know one or two. On the opposite end of the list, the worst job is that of a lumberjack, while the seventh worst job is that of a garbage collector. (Sorry, bro!) The #9 worst job is that of a roustabout. I’d never heard of a roustabout. I looked it up on, and it looks like it could be anything from a wharf laborer to a circus laborer to someone who works in an oil field. I’m not sure which meaning the job rankings were supposed to reflect.

My main point in posting this, of course, is to promote philosophy, especially after my most recent post. Still, I wished I could find the link I had sent to me in an email that was an annual report from one of the Ivy League schools. (I can’t remember which one; I want to say Stanford, or perhaps Harvard.) Anyway, I couldn’t find the link, but it reported on the highest average earnings for those who earned graduate degrees at the university. Those who earned graduate degrees in philosophy had the highest average annual income when compared to graduates of all other graduate programs at the school. No, I’m not kidding. Of course, as the person who sent me the email pointed out, this is bound to be a severely flawed statistic. Because philosophy is such a small program, there are relatively few students earning philosophy graduate degrees. Thus, one or two of them making a large sum of money would throw off the statistics for philosophy graduates as a whole. Given that these are Ivy League students, it is possible that some of these philosophy students went off to work for their rich father’s company after graduation and are now earning a pretty penny. Nonetheless, it was an interesting (and somewhat amusing) piece.


  1. Well, congrats! I'm looking forward to the day you're rolling in the dough. Now if I could just use that math thing to my advantage (P.S. if anyone doesn't know, actuaries are a specialized mathematician, from what I know of it). Someday maybe eh?
    I thought I heard once that philosophy is a good field for pre-law. Is that true? Perhaps that's where these big bucks come from?

  2. In your face!
    I don't know exactly who that's directed toward, but this happy news seems to warrant saying it to someone.