Jobs for Philosophers (Buffalo Edition)

Graduates of the UB Ontology Program are employed across the U.S.

U.S. map shows the states where UB Philosophy's ontology program alums are employed in both government and industry. Map created by Barry Smith, Fall 2023.

A significant number of our graduates obtain well-paying jobs in biomedical research, government, banking, social media, and similar areas. The key to this success lies in the role played in our program by the discipline of ontology, a branch of philosophy that is making a significant contribution to information and data science. 

We have built the world’s only philosophy PhD program which allows a focus on ontology, both theoretical and applied. Graduates of this program are employed in a variety of fields as senior ontologists. This puts them in a position to influence hiring decisions in the future.

Jobs for philosophers who focus on ontology


The 2023 average salary for an "ontologist" according to SimplyHired is $92,631. The salary range is between $54,723 and $156,799. Starting salaries for UB PhD graduates from our ontology program can reach as high as $175,000.

Jobs for ontologists are often posted on INDEED. 

The job responsibilities of an ontologist can include:

  • Building ontologies that support content search systems.
  • Exercising judgment in applying existing ontology standards.
  • Working with applied scientists and others to develop metrics for ontology usage.
  • Working with business and domain experts to develop and evolve ontology usage.
  • Translating customer’s business requirements into technical/functional ontology implementation for engineers.
  • Evangelizing ontological concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Collaborating with other technical teams on knowledge-engineering focused projects.
  • Deploying ontologies in a business setting.


  • New APA video on Careers in Ontology

    A recent APA video identifies new jobs in a burgeoning ontological sector involving the commercial and industrial applications of ontology across diverse industries. Charlie Taben and Barry Smith discuss the evolution of the field and how philosophers are ideally suited for these tech-driven positions. See APA video here.

One of the hottest jobs: Ontologist (Prediction from the Eckerson Group)

All indications from former UB students and collaborators working in the ontology field suggest that this prediction will continue to hold in the future:

"In most organizations, there is a growing disconnect between machine learning algorithms and corporate knowledge. This disconnect is an example of a more general problem in artificial intelligence (AI). As articulated by DARPA, when machine learning algorithms are not guided by relevant domain knowledge, whether for banking, insurance or automated driving, they can generate false outputs, sometimes catastrophic. It’s critical to connect algorithms and data processing with rich, inference-ready knowledge (a.k.a. ontologies) that is independent of any particular representation in databases, file systems or other data management systems. Leading companies, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Nike, are posting job openings for ontologists. There is a particular interest in people with skills in semantic technologies, such as OWL, SPARQL, and knowledge graphs.  Some far-sighted companies that understand the importance of corporate knowledge might even hire a Chief Semantics Officer."  

—Erik Thomsen, Senior Consultant, Artificial Intelligence, Eckerson Group

Spotlight: Ontologists working in the field

I trained my son’s classmate on BFO, and he got a high-paying job at Amazon. Amazon asked me to brief them last week re: BFO and the orders of reality, consistency across, etc. Word is they really liked it ..."

   —UB Philosophy Alum