If you are deciding between majoring in economics or computer 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:
|Ease of finding a job||Moderate||High|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
Embedded software engineer
Computer hardware engineer
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Can be difficult to|
get a job with just
a bachelor’s degree.
Many of the more
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.
Becomes a lot more
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
|A very employable|
High average pay.
High job satisfaction.
Can qualify you for many
roles as well as engineering
Lower predicted job growth
for computer hardware
engineering when compared
with software engineering roles.
Source for computer engineering average pay and jobs
There are many things to consider when choosing between the two degrees and there are also some important things to be aware of when choosing either of them.
Details about the computer engineering major
Below are some of the key details about the computer engineering major.
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 and significantly higher than the reported average pay for an economics major which is $71,173. This could be because a computer engineering major is more applied to jobs in engineering and computer science. Whereas, an economics major is more general and not as applied to as many high-paying jobs at the entry-level.
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:
Embedded software engineer
Computer hardware engineer
Something to consider is that the more research-based roles will usually require at least a master’s degree.
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. Overall, you can expect computer engineering to harder than a degree in economics at the undergraduate level.
Examples of the types of classes that you can expect to take can include:
- Calc 1,2, and 3
- Discrete math
- Differential equations
- Linear algebra
- 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.
Things to consider
On average the required classes will be 50% electrical engineering and 50% CS. However, some universities will be much heavier on electrical engineering while others will be a lot heavier on computer science. It would help to consider what you are more interested in and to take that into consideration when applying to universities if you are not already in university. If you are already in university, you could still take electives from the side that you are more interested in. Alternatively, you could major in CS and minor in electrical engineering or major in electrical engineering and minor in CS.
While computer engineering is a degree that can qualify you for many jobs at just the bachelor’s level, a master’s degree can also help you a lot when getting more research-based engineering roles. If you are interested in the more research-based roles, it would help to consider whether or not a master’s degree would be worth it for you.
Details about a degree in economics
Below are some of the key details of the economics major.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in economics is $71,173. So, according to this data, economics does not pay as well at the bachelor’s level as computer engineering.
This is likely to be because many economics jobs require a master’s degree and economics is not as specific to certain well-paying jobs, at the bachelor’s level, in the way computer engineering is specific to things such as software engineering.
However, some of the difference is likely to be due to higher salaries in the silicon valley area for computer engineering majors where there is a very high cost of living.
Types of jobs you can get
With a bachelor’s degree in economics you can expect to qualify for jobs such as:
Since economics makes use of a lot of statistics, you can qualify for many different types of “analyst” roles. Many of these roles will require the knowledge of programming in programming languages such as R and Python. While doing an economics degree, it would help a lot to make sure to learn R and Python and to be able to show projects that show that you are able to make use of those languages in a useful way.
The difficulty of an economics degree will depend a lot on the specific program. Some economics programs will be very math heavy and focused on statistics and its use in economics. Whereas, other programs will not even require calculus and will be more focused on broad economic theory.
If you do decide on an economics major, it would help a lot to consider what you want to get out of it and the jobs you are interested in so that you can choose an economics program that is suitable for you.
Types of classes you’ll be taking
As mentioned above, economics programs can vary significantly. However, there are some classes that you can expect to be taking including:
Principles of microeconomics
Principles of macroeconomics
Statistics and probability
Topics in money and finance
Topics in banking
Depending on the program, you might also be required to take mathematics classes including:
Important things to be aware of
An economics major is not as employable, at the bachelor’s level as a computer engineering degree, by itself. As a result, it would be very important to take classes related to the job that you are interested in getting.
It is common for economics majors to end up in programming type roles after graduating. It would help you a lot to make sure to take some programming classes as electives and a CS minor would likely be a very good option. Doing this would open you up to well-paying roles such as software engineering.
In addition, if you are interested in going to graduate school for economics, it would help a lot to make sure to take more advanced mathematics classes since they are often required for graduate economics.
As mentioned above, the classes in an economics degree can vary a lot. It would help to look at the degree sequence for the economics degree program at your university and to make sure the required classes are suitable for the types of jobs you are interested in.
More details about the economics major
I have written more about the economics major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here.
Reasons to choose a computer engineering major
The key advantage that a computer engineering degree has over an economics degree is that it is a very employable degree by itself. This is because the degree will qualify you for software engineering roles which are very popular right now and well paid as well as engineering roles. Whereas, an economics degree needs to be combined with something more applied in order to make it as employable as a computer engineering degree.
Also, most computer engineering degrees will require many math classes including linear algebra, discrete math, calculus, and differential equations. These classes are usually enough for most mathematical job roles including data science and machine learning.
Reasons to choose an economics degree
While a computer engineering degree does have the better employment opportunities, there are still some reasons why you might want to consider an economics degree.
If you are more interested in getting an analyst type role, an economics degree can be better suited than a computer engineering degree. In this case, it would help to make sure to learn how to program in R and Python, to take some data analysis classes, and to emphasize more on statistical classes in your major requirements.
Overall, my recommendation would be to major in computer engineering due to better career prospects when compared with an economics bachelor’s degree.
However, regardless of the degree that you choose, it will be very important to make sure that you choose classes related to what you want to do after graduating.