If you are deciding between majoring in math or chemical 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:

Chemical engineeringMath
Payscale reported
average pay
Job prospectsAverageGood
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Chemical engineer
Project engineer
Process engineer
Manufacturing engineer
Production engineer
Environmental engineer

Data analyst
Data scientist
Software engineer
Math teacher
Actuarial analyst
Financial analyst
Difficulty of the
Key things to noteThere are only around 32,600
chemical engineering jobs in
the US. This could make it
difficult to find a job and you
will likely need to relocate.

Average predicted job growth.

Good reported job satisfaction.

Not a very employable
degree by itself if you
do not take applied

Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer

Also employable if
you combine it with
data science and
machine learning
classes and projects.
Source for chemical engineering major salary and jobs
Source for math salary and jobs

There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees. Below, are details about each major, their differences and reasons to choose one or the other.

Details about a chemical engineering degree

Below are some details about a degree in chemical engineering.


According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a degree in chemical engineering is $81,140. This is similar to the average pay you will find with most other engineering majors and it is higher than most other majors including mathematics. Also, according to the BLS, the median pay of a chemical engineer is $108,770.

Job prospects

The predicted growth rate for chemical engineering jobs is 4%, in total, over the next decade and the number of chemical engineering jobs is said to be 32,600 (source). This means that chemical engineering only has average predicted job growth. Also, compared to other engineering majors, 32,600 is not a lot of jobs. This means that it is more likely that you will have a hard time looking for a job in chemical engineering and that you will be more likely to have to relocate.

However, as mentioned above, the median pay of a chemical engineer is high, so when you do get a job it can pay well. Also, they tend to be relatively secure jobs so you should be able to keep your job for a decent amount of time once you get one. Also, most people find them to be interesting jobs with good job satisfaction.

According to Payscale, common jobs for chemical engineering majors includes:

  • Chemical engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Process engineer
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Production engineer
  • Environmental engineer


Chemical engineering is a difficult major. It will include a lot of math and physics and the chemical engineering classes themselves can be difficult. Overall, you can expect chemical engineering to be similarly difficult to mathematics which can also be a difficult major.


Some classes you can expect to take in chemical engineering can include:

  • Calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • Differential equations
  • Physics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Kinetics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

You can look here to see an example degree sequence of chemical engineering.

Things to consider

One thing to consider is that chemical engineering is not the same as chemistry. In chemical engineering, you will be focusing more on creating systems to create chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and other products (source). Whereas, a chemist will be more focused on things such as studying substances at the atomic and molecular level in a lab (source).

While other engineering degrees will pay a similar amount and often have a wider job pool available to you, you might prefer chemical engineering because of the types of jobs you can work in. It would help to do a lot of research the types of things you could be working on and to see if it is something you would enjoy.

Details about a math degree

Below are some key details about the math major.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics is $77,000. 

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 higher than 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.

Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians 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 mathematics is used in many different fields, a math degree should open you up to many different job opportunities.

According to Payscale, the most common reported jobs people, with a math degree, report having are:

Software engineer
Data analyst
Data scientist
Math teacher
Financial analyst
Data engineer

However, a math degree is a somewhat general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something such as computer science is to software engineering. 

If you do end up choosing a math 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 mathematics.

Many math 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 and to complete software engineering projects as an undergrad.

The three most common reported jobs for people with a math degree are software engineer, data analyst and data scientist. 

All three of them involve the use of programming, so it would help to make sure to learn to program regardless. 

Currently, data science is becoming a very popular career path among math 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 and to complete data science projects as an undergrad and to try to get data science internships.

Types of classes you will study

As a math major you can expect to take the following classes:

Differential calculus
Integral calculus
Multivariate calculus
Differential equations
Linear algebra
Discrete math
Abstract algebra
Real analysis
Number theory

You can also expect to have the option to select from a range of other advanced math classes or related classes from other disciplines such as statistics, computer science, physics and engineering.

How difficult it is as a major

The math major is generally considered as being one of the hardest undergraduate degrees available. It becomes especially hard when you enter your junior year since most of your classes will be proof-based which tend to be much harder than the more computational classes.

Some things to consider about the major

A math 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 mathematics taught in a math major is useful in a wide variety of fields but you will need to supplement it with some field-specific coursework.

A very good combination would be to major in mathematics 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. Alternatively, majoring in computer science and minoring in mathematics is also a very good combination.

If you want to go down the data science or machine learning route, it would also help to make sure to take some statistics and data analysis classes. However, in this case, it would likely be better to major in statistics and to minor in CS or minor in stats and major in CS.

More details about the math major

I have written more about how to do well in a math major here and I have written more about whether or not a math degree is worth it here.

Reasons to choose a math degree

While a math degree by itself is not as applied to certain types of jobs like chemical engineering is, it can be very employable if you combine it with something such as computer science and statistics. It can also be employable if you combine it with data science and machine learning classes and complete data science and machine learning projects.

Also, math can be very useful when applying to graduate school as it is a lack of math classes that often makes students less competitive. Although, again, it will still be important to take classes related to the discipline that you are interested in.

If you do choose to get a math 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.

Also, I would recommend choosing applied mathematics over pure mathematics because applied mathematics tends to be the more employable of the two.

Reasons to choose chemical engineering

When compared with a math degree by itself, you can expect a chemical engineering degree to qualify you for more high-paying jobs at the entry-level. However, a math degree can be a lot more employable if you combine it with computer science, data science and machine learning classes and projects.

Also, the math used in a chemical engineering degree will usually be much more computational than the math in advanced math classes. Most students tend to prefer these computational classes over the proof-based math classes.

Furthermore, the jobs that a chemical engineering degree can qualify you for tend to be very interesting jobs that have high levels of satisfaction. However, a math major can also qualify you for interesting jobs in data science and machine learning if you take the right classes.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.