I was recently asked about the work environment, salary and job prospects in the philosophy profession and thought I’d post my answers:
In general, the work environment in philosophy tends to be good. Schools can vary greatly, but working in academics is generally a very positive experience (professor is the # 2 rated job in America).
Typically, a professor has an office that might be shared or private and teaches in various classrooms. Schools vary greatly in assigned responsibilities. A community college might require 4-6 classes a semester, but have no other expectations. A major research university might require 1-2 classes a semester, but expect committee work, professional service, research and such. For the most part, the work load is not unreasonable relative to the salary. Starting salary in a tenure line ranges from $30,000-60,000 depending on many factors. Interestingly, prestigious schools do not always pay more than community colleges. For example, a friend of mine is a professor at Cal State and makes $63,000 a year with a PhD. One person who has an MA makes about $65,000 at a nearby community college and has the same number of years, etc. Unions tend to be a major factor as well. Public schools in strong union states tend to pay well.
The job outlook is quite variable. When I was looking for a job in 1993 the market was horrible. The standard job listing in philosophy is published by the American Philosophical Association and is called Jobs for Philosophers. When I was looking, my classmates and I called it the Job for Philosophers because it was so thin due to the small number of jobs available. Now that many of the old white guys are retiring or dying and the economy is generally good, there are many more openings. So, the JFP is has been fairly fat in the past few years. But, things could change quickly. University budgets could drop, there could be a bumper crop of PhD s to saturate the job market and so on.
Overall, being a philosophy professor is a good job that pays reasonably well. The opportunities have been quite good in recent years-relative to when I graduated.