If you are interested in majoring in chemical or math, 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
Quality control chemist
|Difficulty of the|
|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
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.
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
classes and projects.
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.
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. In 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 a math major, you can expect chemistry to be slightly easier.
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 a math degree
Below are some key details about the math major.
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:
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.
A math degree by itself is not very employable. However, it is a lot more employable when combined with classes from computer science, statistics, data science and machine learning, and personal projects in software engineering, data science and machine learning.
Types of classes you will study
As a math major you can expect to take the following classes:
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 very employable, 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 chemistry
While it can be difficult to find jobs with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, 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.