If you have an interest in both chemistry and computer engineering, you might be wondering which would be a better major. This post will show you the advantages and disadvantages of each and help you decide which would be a better major for you.

At a glance:

ChemistryComputer Engineering
Payscale reported
average pay
$74,737$87,240
Job opportunitiesAverageGood
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Lab assistant
Entry-level chemist
Quality control chemist
Technician
Teacher
Process engineer
Software engineer
Embedded software engineer
Electrical engineer
Firmware engineer
Computer hardware engineer
Systems engineer
Difficulty of the
major
HardHard
Key things to note

It can be difficult to find
a job with just a bachelor’s
degree in chemistry. A
master’s degree or
PhD is often required.

The major can become
more employable if
combined with a more
applied minor.

Also more employable
if you do research work
in a lab and do internships.

It is a major that can
give good job meaning
once you can find a job.


A very employable
bachelor’s degree.

High average pay.

High job satisfaction.

Can qualify you for many
software engineering
roles as well as engineering
roles.

Lots of potential jobs available.

Lower predicted job growth
for computer hardware
engineering when compared
with software engineering roles.

Source for computer engineering average pay and jobs
Source for chemistry 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 the chemistry major

Below are some details about the chemistry major.

Pay

According to Payscale, the average pay of a person, who has a degree in chemistry, is $74,737. This is higher than the average across all majors. However, it is important to note that this average will be being increased by people who also have a PhD in chemistry.

Jobs

The chemistry major can qualify you for a number of different types of jobs in a number of fields. However, the major can restrict you to certain types of jobs. This is unlike alternative majors, such as computer science where it is feasible to enter related disciplines such as data science.

Also, the jobs that you can qualify for with just a bachelor’s degree in chemistry can have low pay, can be competitive and will only be entry-level roles within chemistry or technician roles in related areas such as in medicine/drugs.

However, chemistry jobs are expected to grow by 5% by 2029 which is more than average. Also, the jobs tend to have high levels of meaning because they are usually beneficial jobs to society.

According to Payscale, jobs people with a chemistry degree get can include:

  • Lab assistant
  • Entry-level chemist
  • Quality control chemist
  • Technician
  • Teacher
  • Process engineer

It’s important to note that lab assistant roles usually require a year of experience having worked in a lab. This means that it will be important to complete lab work while in the major and to get internships.

Difficulty

Chemistry involves a lot of math and physics. As a chemistry major, you will be taking one years worth of physics classes and math classes including calculus 1,2, and 3. Also, the chemistry classes themselves can be difficult, especially physical chemistry. As a result, you can expect chemistry to be a difficult major. When compared with computer engineering, you can expect chemistry to be slightly harder.

Classes

Classes that you can expect to take in a chemistry major can include:

  • 1 year of physics
  • Calculus 1,2, and 3
  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Senior-level lab courses

Things to consider

Organic chemistry is a major that can be difficult to find jobs with by itself unless you are careful about what you do within the major. If your goal is to get lab work, it would help a lot to do research projects as an undergrad and to try to get lab internships so that you can qualify for entry-level lab roles.

Due to the amount of math involved, the major could be a pathway towards data analytics or even software engineering roles, if you learn how to program while in the major. On Payscale, people do report having gotten software engineering, data science and data analytics jobs with a chemistry degree. As a result, it could be worthwhile for you to get a computer science minor as well if you are set on a chemistry major.

If you want to do chemistry research in industry or academia, you should expect to have to get a PhD.

Details about the computer engineering major

Below are some of the key details about the computer engineering major.

Pay

According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering is $87,240. This makes computer engineering one of the best paying majors available. This could be because computer engineering can qualify you for computer science type roles which are very popular right now.

However, computer engineering jobs do tend to be concentrated in high cost of living areas.

Jobs

According to the BLS, it is predicted that computer hardware engineering will only grow in demand by 2% by 2029.

However, a computer engineering degree involves a lot of computer science. This means that you can qualify for software engineering roles and other computer science-related roles. The predicted growth for software engineering is 22%. This is probably because it is much cheaper to start up a software company as opposed to a hardware company. With that being the case, it would likely help you a lot to make sure to take a number of additional computer science classes in your electives.

Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering includes:

Software engineer
Embedded software engineer
Electrical engineer
Firmware engineer
Computer hardware engineer
Systems engineer

Something to consider is that the more research-based roles will usually require at least a master’s degree.

Difficulty

Computer engineering includes a number of math classes including linear algebra, calculus, discrete math, and differential equations. Also, many of the electrical engineering classes can be difficult. This means that computer engineering is not an easy degree.

Classes

Examples of the types of classes that you can expect to take can include:

  • Programming
  • Calc 1,2, and 3
  • Discrete math
  • Differential equations
  • Linear algebra
  • Probability
  • Circuit analysis
  • Introduction to electronics
  • Digital electronics
  • Signal processing
  • Embedded systems
  • Algorithms and data structures

However, the classes can differ a lot depending on the university. Some will require you to take more electrical engineering classes while other universities will require more computer science classes.

Usually, data structures and algorithms are required classes in computer engineering but not always. These are important classes for software engineering interviews. If the program you enter does not require these classes, it would help to take them anyway.

Conclusion

When compared with a chemistry degree, you can expect a degree in computer engineering to qualify you for a lot more jobs. Also, computer engineering is a degree that is directly employable without needing to take classes from other disciplines to become employable. However, it would still help to choose classes related to the job roles you are interested in and to complete projects related to them.

While a chemistry major will not give job prospects that are as good as computer engineering, there are still some reasons why you might want to get a chemistry degree.

The first reason is if you want to get a job that requires a master’s or doctoral degree in chemistry. If you do, then a bachelor’s degree in chemistry 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 chemistry. However, it would also help to minor in something that is employable at the bachelor’s degree level. It would also help a lot to make sure to complete lab projects and to get lab internships to help when seeking lab work after graduating.

Author

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.