If you are deciding between majoring in biology or civil engineering, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.
At a glance:
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
Water resources engineer
High school teacher
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||A relatively secure field|
once you are able to land a
Employable with just a bachelor’s
High-stress work environment
in the early years.
High job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Low predicted job growth
over the next decade.
The work environment can
be more physically active than most
jobs since you’ll need to go to the construction
locations occasionally. However,
there is also a lot of meetings and
design work using computer software.
|It can be difficult to find|
a job with just a bachelor’s
degree in biology. A
master’s degree or
PhD is often required.
Other easier majors
can be better for
The major can become
more employable if
combined with a more
It is a major that can
give good job satisfaction
once you can find a job.
Source for biology pay and jobs
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees and there are many similarities between them. Below, is details about each major, their differences and reasons to choose one or the other.
Details about a biology degree
Below are some of the key details about a degree in biology.
According to Payscale, the average pay for a person with a degree in biology is $71,112. This is better than the average across all majors. However, something to consider, is that the average will be being increased considerably by people with master’s degrees and PhDs in biology.
Biology can be a somewhat general degree that is not specialized towards specific job roles. As a result, it is often necessary to combine biology with a more applied minor or to get an advanced degree after graduating, in order to make the major more employable.
In a ZipRecruiter survey, it was found that 35% of biology graduates regret choosing the major due to difficulty finding a job without an advanced degree.
With that being said, the major can be a gateway towards jobs in a number of different fields, but it will often require some extra studying to become employable in those fields.
According to Payscale, people with a degree in biology often get jobs as:
- Lab assistant
- Physician assistant
- Biomedical engineer
- Physical therapist
- High school teacher
Note that many of these jobs will require at least a master’s degree.
Something to be aware of is that many of the jobs that require advanced degrees do have strong predicted job growth (source). This is encouraging if you are set on getting an advanced degree in biology. However, something to be aware of is that if you change your mind halfway through, it could be difficult to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Biology is a difficult major. The biology classes themselves can be difficult and the major will usually require math, statistics, physics, and chemistry classes. Overall, you should expect to have to put a lot of time into the major. However, When compared with civil engineering you can expect biology to be less math heavy.
Classes you can expect to take in a biology major can include:
- Introduction to physics
- Introduction to biology
- Molecular biology
You can look here to see an example degree sequence.
Things to consider
Alternative majors can allow you to enter medical school but also have good job opportunities. In fact, because it can be difficult to get a high GPA in biology, alternative majors can actually be better for medical school because having a high GPA can help a lot.
To get the more desirable jobs, in biology, it is often necessary to get a PhD. If you do choose the major, it would help a lot to consider combining it with a more employable minor in order to improve your job prospects after graduation.
When deciding on whether or not you should major in biology, it would help to consider whether or not you are set on going to graduate school as well and the types of jobs you want. If you are set on going to graduate school and you want a job that will require a master’s or PhD then a biology major would become more worthwhile.
Details about a degree in civil engineering
Below are some details about the civil engineering major.
According to Payscale, the average pay for a person with a degree in civil engineering is $70,508. This is higher than the average pay for most majors. However, it is a lot lower than alternative engineering majors such as computer engineering ($87,000) and electrical engineering ($92,000).
On one hand, civil engineering could be seen as a safe major because there will always be buildings, dams, highways, stadiums, etc that need to be built. As a result, once you are able to get a job in civil engineering, it is typically seen as a relatively secure job to have.
However, it can be tricky to find a job at the entry-level and the price of the job security is that the pay is slightly lower than alternative majors such as computer engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. Also, because you will be building structures that many people will be using and that cost millions of dollars, it can be a very stressful job, especially in the early years. Although, it is also typically a very interesting field to work in, and completing a project successfully can be very fulfilling.
Jobs that you can get with a civil engineering degree include:
- Civil engineer
- Project engineer
- Structural engineer
- Transportation engineer
- Geotechnical engineer
- Water resources engineer
- Construction engineer
Civil engineering has a number of sub-fields and you will need to specialize in one of them before getting a job.
The subfields include:
Construction engineering. This involves managing the project as it is underway and building the temporary structures that are used while constructing the actual structure.
Geotechnical engineering. This involves ensuring that the foundations of the structure are well built.
Structural engineering. This involves designing the structure and ensuring that it will be able to support itself.
Transportation engineering. This involves building and maintaining streets, highways, airports, docks, and harbors.
Water resource engineering. This involves managing water resources by designing new equipment and facilities.
Civil engineering is a difficult degree that will involve a lot of mathematics including calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. It will also involve some physics and the engineering classes themselves can be difficult. There will also be a lot of lab classes that will involve a lot of projects.
Classes that you can expect to take in a civil engineering degree can include:
Introduction to programming
Introduction to civil engineering
Civil engineering materials
Mechanics of structures
Water resources engineering
You can also expect to take more specialized classes related to the specialization that you choose.
Things to consider
Before choosing civil engineering and the university that you want to go to, it would help to research the type of civil engineering you are most interested in. This is so that you know what to specialize in and so that you know what university to choose because some universities will only offer certain specializations.
Reasons to choose a civil engineering major
The key advantage that a civil engineering degree has over a biology degree is that it is a very employable degree by itself. This is because the degree directly applicable to a number of high-paying jobs at the bachelor’s degree level. Whereas, a biology degree needs to be combined with something more applied or for you to get an advanced degree in order to make it as employable as a civil engineering degree.
Also, civil engineering jobs tend to be very satisfying jobs that are also very interesting and important to society.
However, a civil engineering degree will require a lot of study time. There are some alternative degrees that can also give good job prospects that do not require as much study time such as computer science.
Reasons to choose biology
While it can be difficult to find jobs with just a bachelor’s degree in biology, there are still some reasons why you might want to get a biology degree.
The first reason is if you want to get a job that requires a master’s or doctoral degree in biology. If you do, then a bachelor’s degree in biology would be more worthwhile.
Also, if you have a very strong interest in the subject, it would also make it more worthwhile for you to major in biology. However, it would also help to minor in something that is employable at the bachelor’s degree level.