Correction: An earlier version of this post did not examine PayScale’s methodology. The three paragraphs that address it were added, and the text has been lightly edited in other places as a result. If the post now reads unevenly, that is why. Short version: I was a bit too hard on Mr. Bump due to my own lack of due diligence. Mea culpa.
At last night’s fourth GOP debate on Fox Business, Florida Senator Marco Rubio lamented, “For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” You can watch the full clip from the debate below:
Spirited defenses of philosophy majors were quick to follow this on the internet. Take, for example, Philip Bump of the Wall Street Journal:
Using data from the Web site PayScale, we can look at the introductory and median incomes of both professions. In 2008, philosophy majors started at about $40,000 a year — about the same as what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says first-year welders make.
But over the longer term, philosophy majors make more. Mid-career welders make $22 an hour, according to PayScale, compared with over $80,000 for philosophy majors.
I was a philosophy minor myself, saving my major for just about the only less lucrative option than philosophy: theology. (more…)