If you are interested in majoring in biology or statistics, 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
High school teacher
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||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.
Can be difficult to find
a job with if you
do not take applied
Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer
Well above average
Also employable if
you combine it with
data science and
classes and projects.
Source for biology pay and jobs
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two majors. Below, are 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. When compared with a statistics major, you can expect biology to be equivalently difficult.
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 statistics major
Below are some key details about the statistics major.
According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a statistics degree is $70,050
This is higher than the average pay for people with a bachelor of arts degree, across all majors, which is reported as being $64,000 and roughly equal to the average pay for people with a bachelor of science degree which is reported as being $71,000.
However, competing majors such as computer science and the different engineering degrees have significantly higher average pay. For example, the reported pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is $92,000.
The reason why statistics has a lower average pay could be that data analyst type roles are very popular among statistics majors. According to Payscale, these roles only pay $60,000 on average. Whereas, roles such as software engineer have an average pay of $90,000.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians and statisticians will rise by 33% by 2029 compared to 2019.
This is mainly due to the surge in data that companies have been receiving in recent years that they need people with mathematical and statistical skills to make sense of.
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a statistics degree should open you up to many different job opportunities.
According to Payscale, the most common reported jobs people, with a statistics degree, report having are:
And a Business analyst
However, because it is a general degree, if you get a statistics degree without taking more applied classes, it can be difficult to compete for more specialized positions.
If you do end up choosing a statistics major, this means that you should take courses from the field that you want to enter, do summer internships and to complete projects related that field as well in order to be competitive when seeking a job.
It also means that alternative majors such as computer science or the different engineering degrees are likely to give you an easier time when looking for a job after graduating.
This is also shown in the data, since computer science and engineering both report having higher average pay than statistics.
Many statistics majors go into software engineering after graduation.
If you want to qualify for software engineering jobs then it would help to make sure to take a data structures and algorithms class since the material from that class gets tested heavily in software engineering interviews.
It would also help to try to get some internships as a software engineer while in college. To qualify for these internships, it would help to complete a number of software engineering projects, such as a web app, in order to show recruiters you know what you are doing.
Currently, data science is becoming a very popular career path among statistics majors.
To qualify for data science jobs, it would help to make sure to learn Python programming, data analysis using the Pandas library, machine learning, to complete data science projects as an undergrad and to try to get data science internships.
If you combine a statistics degree with software engineering skills and classes related to machine learning and data science, it would put you in a very good position upon graduation since software engineering, data science and machine learning engineering jobs are all very well paid with strong predicted job growth over the next decade.
If you get a statistics degree by itself, it would still put you in a good position to be competitive for “analyst” type roles but they do not pay nearly as well as data science, software engineering and machine learning engineering.
Types of classes you will study
As a statistics major you can expect to take the following classes:
- Differential calculus
- Integral calculus
- Multivariate calculus
- Linear algebra
- Discrete math
- Mathematical statistics
- Data analysis
You can also expect to have the option to take other statistics classes and related classes as available.
How difficult it is as a major
The statistics major is generally considered as being a moderately difficult degree by STEM standards. Some of the more advanced classes can be proof-based which tends to be much harder than the more computational classes but you might not have to take many of those classes depending on your specific program.
Some things to consider about the major
A Statistics degree can open up many different possible avenues for yourself and can be a very good degree when combined with a more applied minor. This is because the statistics taught in a stats major is useful in a wide variety of fields but you will need to supplement it with some field-specific coursework so that you are able to show that you can apply the statistics to those fields. It would also help to do some self-directed study in order to learn useful skills that might not be taughtt in the classroom such as Python programming and data analysis using Python.
A very good combination would be to major in statistics and to minor in computer science. Doing this would open you up to job roles such as data science, machine learning engineer, data analysis and software engineering.
Majoring in computer science and minoring in statistics is also a very good combination. If you want to go down the data science route, it would also help to make sure to take some statistics and data analysis classes.
More details about the statistics major
Reasons to choose a statistics degree
When compared with a biology bachelor’s degree, you can expect a bachelor’s degree in statistics to qualify you for more jobs. A statistics degree combined with computer science and data science knowledge is arguably one of the most employable combinations you can get right now due to the large number of jobs available already and the high predicted job growth.
Also, the demand for statistics majors is increasing sharply due to the increasing amounts of data that companies are getting. It is likely that the career paths that statistics can lead you down, such as data science, will continue to be highly in demand for many years.
If you do choose to get a statistics degree, it would help a lot to consider what you would like to do after graduating and to make sure to take classes related to that. It would also help to try to complete projects and to do summer internships related to a job you are interested in to make your job search much easier after graduation. It would also help to make sure to get good at programming, especially in R and Python, since many statistics jobs require programming and data analysis knowledge.
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.