If you are deciding between majoring in civil engineering or mathematics, 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
Water resources engineer
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note|
A relatively secure field
once you are able to land a
Employable with just a bachelor’s
High-stress work environment
in the early years.
High job satisfaction and fulfillment.
Low predicted job growth
over the next decade.
The work environment can
be more physically active than most
jobs since you’ll need to go to the construction
locations occasionally. However,
there is also a lot of meetings and
design work using computer software.
|Very employable if|
you combine it with
a minor in CS.
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Well above average
Source for statistics salary and jobs
There are important things to consider when choosing between the two degrees since they can take you down very different paths. Also, there are some things to consider if you do choose either of them such as which classes you should take.
Details about a degree in civil engineering
Below are some details about the civil engineering major.
According to Payscale, the average pay for a person with a degree in civil engineering is $70,508. This is higher than the average pay for most majors. However, it is a lot lower than alternative engineering majors such as computer engineering ($87,000) and electrical engineering ($92,000). It is also similar to the average reported pay for a statistics major which is $70,000.
On one hand, civil engineering could be seen as a safe major because there will always be buildings, dams, highways, stadiums, etc that need to be built. As a result, once you are able to get a job in civil engineering, it is typically seen as a relatively secure job to have.
However, it can be tricky to find a job at the entry-level and the price of the job security is that the pay is slightly lower than alternative majors such as computer engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. Also, because you will be building structures that many people will be using and that cost millions of dollars, it can be a very stressful job, especially in the early years. Although, it is also typically a very interesting field to work in, and completing a project successfully can be very fulfilling.
Jobs that you can get with a civil engineering degree include:
- Civil engineer
- Project engineer
- Structural engineer
- Transportation engineer
- Geotechnical engineer
- Water resources engineer
- Construction engineer
Civil engineering has a number of sub-fields and you will need to specialize in one of them before getting a job.
The subfields include:
Construction engineering. This involves managing the project as it is underway and building the temporary structures that are used while constructing the actual structure.
Geotechnical engineering. This involves ensuring that the foundations of the structure are well built.
Structural engineering. This involves designing the structure and ensuring that it will be able to support itself.
Transportation engineering. This involves building and maintaining streets, highways, airports, docks, and harbors.
Water resource engineering. This involves managing water resources by designing new equipment and facilities.
Civil engineering is a difficult degree that will involve a lot of mathematics including calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. It will also involve some physics and the engineering classes themselves can be difficult. There will also be a lot of lab classes that will involve a lot of projects. When compared with a statistics major, you can expect them both to be equivalently difficult.
Classes that you can expect to take in a civil engineering degree can include:
Introduction to programming
Introduction to civil engineering
Civil engineering materials
Mechanics of structures
Water resources engineering
You can also expect to take more specialized classes related to the specialization that you choose.
Things to consider
Before choosing civil engineering and the university that you want to go to, it would help to research the type of civil engineering you are most interested in. This is so that you know what to specialize in and so that you know what university to choose because some universities will only offer certain specializations.
Details about a statistics major
Below are some key details about the statistics major.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for statisticians will rise by 33% by 2029. 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.
According to Payscale, the average pay for someone with a bachelor’s in statistics is $70,050.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a statistics degree will open you up to many different job opportunities.
However, many of the jobs that stats majors tend to seek such as a quantitative researcher or machine learning engineer often require a master’s degree (but not always). They can also require more specialized knowledge that you might not get in a statistics degree. This is why it would help to make sure to choose your classes according to the job you are most interested in.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a master’s in stats could include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Quantitative researcher
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree there will be many different jobs that you will qualify for.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a bachelor’s in stats could include:
- Financial analyst
- Insurance underwriter
- Data analyst
- Software engineer
- Market researcher
- Actuary (requires lots of stats classes)
However, statistics is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something things such as computer science is to software engineering and finance is to finance type jobs. This means that you should take courses from the field that you want to enter and do internships and projects in that field as well in order to be competitive when seeking a job.
For example, many stats majors go into software engineering after graduation. If you want to qualify for software engineering jobs then make sure to take a data structures class and an algorithms class and try to get some internships as a software engineer while in college.
Before choosing your electives I would strongly recommend that you consider what you want to do after college and make sure to take classes related to that.
With that being said, there are some people that have gotten data science and machine learning jobs with just a bachelor’s degree. It would greatly improve your chances if you were to make sure to complete machine learning and data science projects and to do internships in those fields as an undergrad. It would also help to take computer science classes in your electives, especially data structures and algorithms.
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
I have written more about how to do well in a stats major here and I have written more about whether or not a stats degree is worth it here.
Reasons to choose a statistics degree
While a statistics degree, by itself, won’t usually qualify you for as many high paying entry-level jobs as civil engineering, it can be more employable if you combine it with something such as computer science and data science knowledge. 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 civil engineering
When compared with a statistics bachelor’s degree by itself, you can expect an civil engineering degree to qualify you for more jobs at the entry-level. However, a statistics degree combined with computer science and data science can be a lot more employable.
Furthermore, the jobs that an civil engineering degree can qualify you for tend to be very interesting jobs that have high levels of satisfaction. Although, many of the statistics jobs can be very interesting in their own right and the civil engineering jobs can be stressful in the earlier years.
Ultimately, they are both well-respected degrees with good job opportunities. It would help to consider what you find most interesting and what sorts of jobs you are most interested in when deciding on which degree would be best for you.