Philosophers Don’t Get Much Respect, But Their Earnings Don’t Suck

538 is the nations most respected site for sports, politics, and economic statistical analysis. They took issue with presidential candidate’s Marco Rubio’s comment that “welders make more than philosophers, we need more welders and less philosophers.” So they analyzed the statistics.

“But philosophy majors also have some of the highest scores in the LSAT and GMAT — the required tests for entry to law and business school respectively, according to figures from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). And when it comes to earnings for people who only have undergraduate degrees, philosophy majors have the fourth-highest median earnings, $81,200 per year, out-ranking business and chemistry majors, according to the ETS. Bar none, philosophy majors have the highest salary growth trajectory from entry to mid-career.

“People with liberal arts degrees in disciplines like philosophy go on to do all sorts of jobs; most don’t just sit around and philosophize in coffee shops or even in classrooms. According to, annual wages for people with B.A.s in philosophy range from $37,000 to $83,000. For welders, the site says the salary range is $23,000 to $63,000.

“Since people with philosophy degrees do many things, one way to track them is by earnings regardless of their day job. According to American Community Survey data, the median earnings of full-time year-round employees ages 30-49 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and no graduate degree, was $51,000 per year from 2010 to 2012. In addition, the Department of Labor (DOL) also keeps statistics on what people earn by job category. “Philosophy and Religion Teachers, postsecondary” earn, on average, $71,350 (and presumably many are college professors with graduate degrees and the associated time-commitment and/or debt). The DOL’s figures show that “Welding, Soldering and Brazing Workers” make $39,570 on average. Two other job categories including “welding” or “welder” have median wages of $40,040 and $36,450.”

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