Philosophy professors instruct college students on philosophy, religion and theology, and may combine teaching with research. A Ph.D. is required for those wanting tenure positions at four-year universities. Otherwise, a master’s degree or doctoral candidacy may be adequate for part-time work at community colleges. Advancement may lead to tenure or to managerial positions at the head of departments.
Philosophy professors have great flexibility in scheduling their workweek. They must typically teach classes for 12 to 16 hours, and add another three to six hours for student consultations. Otherwise, they can divide the rest of the time among class preparations, study, research, grading papers and supervising grad students. In addition, they need only work an academic year of nine months, leaving the rest of the time free for additional courses, travel or personal time. As of May 2009, the median salary of these professors was $61,240 per year, with a range of $34,130 to $109,300. These facts are the most current from the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS).
The biggest employers of philosophy professors were colleges, universities and professional schools, with 16,830 out of the 19,630 positions. They were also the highest-paying employers, with a mean annual wage of $68,040. The second largest and highest-paying employers were junior colleges, with 2,540 positions paying a mean $65,770 per year.
The state with the highest pay was Rhode Island, with mean wages at $93,050 per year for 120 jobs. Also among the top five for compensation was California, the most populous state. It showed lower means at $79,420 annually, but boasted better employment with 1,650 jobs. Among cities, Rochester, New York, had the highest wages at a mean $99,770 per year for 100 jobs. Also among the top five was New York City, with lower means of $86,720 per year, but better employment at 740 jobs.
The BLS sees jobs for all college professors increasing at five percent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than average for all positions. This is due to population increases in 18-to-24-year-olds, which is the primary college-age population. However, opportunities will also come from adults who are returning to school to enhance their careers or for personal knowledge. Tenure track positions will experience the greatest competition. Prospects are better for part-time or non-tenured positions.