Psychology vs Philosophy: Career ROI

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Updated: March 7, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Psychology vs Philosophy - featured image

Since psychology and philosophy are both engaged in studying human minds, many people think they’re the same. These fields, although they have some overlapping topics, are very different from each other.

In terms of similarities, both psychology and philosophy have interdisciplinary roots and approaches, as well as emphasize critical thinking skills, deal with ethics and its questions, and tackle the study of knowledge. Both fields of study also influence each other, such as ideas in philosophy shaping theories in psychology and vice versa. 

Their differences are more significant, including: 

Coursework – Psychology focuses on human development, social behavior, and cognitive processes, while philosophy emphasizes logic, ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.

Psychology vs Philosophy - fact

In terms of returns on investment, both psychology and philosophy offer several career paths, although, of course, it’s your responsibility to take advantage of the career advancement opportunities that come your way. If you’re looking for careers with more technical responsibilities, then psychology is your best choice. If you want more career options and you’re willing to pursue additional education and training, then go for philosophy. 

A Quick Look At Their Differences

Average Annual Salary$85,330$60,000
Projected Job Growth6% (2022-2032) or 12,800 job openings per year, on average8% (2022-2032) or 118,800 job openings per year, on average (Post-secondary teachers)
Licenses/Certifications RequiredYes, for practicing psychologistsYes, for practicing teachers, lawyers and other professionals required to secure said credentials
Primary DutiesAssessment, diagnosis and intervention for individuals, couples, families and groups; research, consultation, education and community outreach/advocacy are also part of the job.Depends on the specific profession, but it can involve research, education and consultation.

What is Psychology?

What is Psychology - Image

Psychology is the field of study that looks into human thought and behavior. The Greek terms “Psyche” and “Logos,” which translate to “soul” and “study,” respectively, are the origins of the word Psychology.

Psychology is the study of human behavior and thought processes. The goal of Psychology is to gain a deeper understanding of the human mind. It looks at the facets of human biology to comprehend patterns of behavior.

The disciplines related to psychology include sports, human development, social behavior, and cognitive processes. In professional practice, Psychology is more concerned with intervention and therapy.

Academic Coursework in Psychology

Psychology requirements vary from college to college and concentration to concentration. Popular specializations include: 

As a psychology major, students must also complete general education courses in subjects relevant to psychological practice, such as math, biology, and communications.

Careers in Psychology

Psychology leads to various job opportunities within and beyond the field. One of the advantages of pursuing psychology is that you’ll have plenty of career options with only a bachelor’s degree, but most career advancement opportunities require at least a master’s degree in psychology or another related field.  

Popular career paths for undergraduates include: 

Note that many of these occupations require a license, on-the-job training, and certification, such as with psychiatric technicians. 

Master’s of Psychology graduates usually have greater leverage for leadership positions. Meanwhile, the highest-paid Psychology graduates are those who pursue PsyD careers. According to Zip Recruiter, PsyD graduates have an average pay of $154,056 annually.

With a master’s and doctorate, you can pursue higher-level roles, such as:

A career in psychology is for you if:

A career in psychology is not the best fit if:

What is Philosophy?

What is Philosophy - Image

Philosophy is also derived from Greek words. It’s a combination of two names that means ‘love of wisdom,’ or in Greek, ‘Philo’ and ‘Sophia.’ Under the philosophical stream, people look for the truth about who they are, who is around them, and their relationships. 

People interested in Philosophy ask, consider, argue, and respond to arrive at intelligent conclusions on fundamental life questions. Philosophy also addresses the link between an individual and the Supreme Being, recognized as the creator of life in this universe. 

Philosophy is more intellectually focused and focuses on the first topic of human investigation, addressing the existence question. It establishes suitable frameworks or classifications to help describe reality. 

The first philosophers were seekers of wisdom who tried to comprehend their existence and place in the cosmos. It is a much more comprehensive field than Psychology, as its primary goal at the present is intellectual.

Academic Coursework in Philosophy

Philosophy majors study logic, ancient and modern reasoning, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics as part of their course curriculum, covering all important areas of Philosophy. 

Popular specializations in the field include:

Careers in Philosophy

Philosophy is an excellent path for extremely curious people. This major focuses on enhancing students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, highly valued in several fields beyond philosophy. However, a philosophy degree often requires a doctorate to pursue industry-specific paths. 

A philosophy degree is mainly designed for those who want to deeply explore the fundamental questions of existence, morality, knowledge, and reality. This degree is among the most controversial programs because, according to popular belief, it is impractical, which is probably true since many Philosophy graduates take on roles in other fields. 

Did You know that Philosophy majors earn a median annual wage of $60,000? This figure is lower than the national average for all occupations. Most philosophy majors with a master’s degree take on roles in management and education occupations. 

Among the most popular career paths for individuals with a degree in philosophy include: 

Other popular career paths for individuals with a degree in philosophy are in government and public policy, technology jobs (e.g., product management, ethics in data privacy or AI), and research. Again, we must emphasize that many of these specific occupations require additional education and training, and thus, you must decide if you’re willing to go for it. 

A career in philosophy is for you if:

A career in philosophy is not a great fit if:

So, between psychology and philosophy, which one gives the best career returns on investment? There’s no clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answer in this case, as is the case for all comparisons of occupations! You must determine your personality traits, personal interests and professional goals first before determining whether these aspects align with the career requirements of either psychology or philosophy. 

Furthermore, keep in mind that for both psychology and philosophy, a graduate degree is the minimum requirement for career advancement. You must also possess relevant work experience, continuing education and a strong work ethic. You must then be willing and able to meet these additional requirements if you want to succeed in either field.  

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