If you are deciding between majoring in electrical engineering or chemistry, 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
Radio frequency engineer
Quality control chemist
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||A very employable|
High average pay.
High job satisfaction.
Average predicted job
growth for the next decade.
|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
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.
Source for chemistry salary 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 the chemistry major
Below are some details about the chemistry major.
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.
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
- 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.
Chemistry involves a lot of math and physics. As a chemistry major, you will be taking one year 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 electrical engineering, you can expect chemistry to be similar in difficulty.
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 electrical engineering major
Below are details about the electrical engineering major.
According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is $92,227. This is much higher than the reported pay for most other majors.
According to the BLS, it is reported that the demand for electrical engineers will grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029. This is slightly higher than the average growth across all jobs. They mention that increasing demand for things such as solar arrays, semiconductors and communications technologies will drive demand for electrical engineers. However, they also mention that certain industries are on the decline such as utilities and manufacturing.
The BLS also says that there are around 328,100 electrical engineering jobs in the US. This is a lot compared to many other engineering majors. It means that you should have a slightly easier time seeking a job than alternative engineering majors and you’ll be more likely to find a job in a location you like.
Electrical engineering is a major that will qualify you for a lot of jobs that pay well with just a bachelor’s degree. Jobs you can get with a degree in electrical engineering can include:
- Systems engineer
- Radio frequency engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Controls engineer
- Software engineer
Electrical engineering includes a lot of mathematics. The concepts in electrical engineering classes themselves can also be very difficult. With that being the case, you can expect electrical engineering to be a very difficult major.
Below are some classes that you can expect to take in electrical engineering:
- Calculus 1, 2, and 3
- Linear algebra
- Differential equations
- Electricity and magnetism
- Circuit analysis
- Control systems
- Signals and systems
- Introduction to electrical engineering
- Introduction to programming
You can look here to see an example degree sequence in electrical engineering.
Things to consider
Some jobs can require a master’s degree and a master’s degree can also help with career progression. It would help to consider what specific type of electrical engineering job you would be most interested in so that you can see whether or not it will also be necessary for you to obtain a master’s degree.
Electrical engineering is a major that will require a lot of work. This will likely mean that you will have to sacrifice a lot of free time. It might be the case that you could major in another high-paying major, such as computer science, that does not require as much effort, which will allow you to focus on other things such as internships and social activities without sacrificing your job opportunities.
As mentioned above, an electrical engineering degree should qualify you for many jobs that pay well and have high levels of job satisfaction. With that being the case, an electrical engineering degree is among the best degrees that you can get right now in terms of job prospects.
While electrical engineering is one of the best degrees to get right now, it might still be the case that it might not be for you. It is a degree that involves a lot of mathematics including calculus, discrete math, differential equations, and linear algebra. With that being said, if you are not great at math right now, I would still recommend an electrical engineering major since you can quickly improve your math skills using the website khanacademy.org.
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.