If you are deciding between majoring in computer science or electrical 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:
|||Electrical engineering||Computer science|
|Job prospects||Good||Very good|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
Radio frequency engineer
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||A very employable|
High average pay.
High job satisfaction.
Average predicted job
growth for the next decade.
|A very employable|
degree with just a
bachelor’s degree. A
master’s degree can
help in obtaining more
The jobs typically pay
very well, have reasonable
hours and high satisfaction.
A good major if you are
interested in remote work.
Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right
High predicted job growth.
Source for electrical engineering major 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 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 and it is even higher than the reported pay of computer science 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 suchas utilities and manufacturing.
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 the 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. It is also more difficult when compared with computer science which is not as heavy on the mathematics.
Below are some classes that you can expect to take in electrical engineering:
Calculus 1, 2, and 3
Electricity and magnetism
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.
Details about a degree in computer science
Below are some of the key details of the computer science major.
According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees available right now.
Many of the alternative degrees to computer science will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best paying degrees but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.
Also, many people that get alternative degrees to CS actually end up finding themselves in CS type roles. For example, it is not uncommon for mathematics or statistics majors to find themselves working in programming roles after graduating.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:
- Software engineer
- Database administrator
- Data scientist (often requires a master’s degree)
- Machine learning engineer (often requires a master’s degree)
- App developer
- Web developer
- Computer systems administrator
Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest-rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures that you’ll learn about during your time in the major. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.
Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.
It would also help to try to get internships during the summer since that will also help you a lot in getting into big tech companies that have very high salaries.
How difficult it is as a major
Generally, computer science is considered as one of the easier STEM majors. With that being said, the major will require a lot of work, at times, especially once you are done with your freshman year.
Types of classes you will study
Classes that you can expect to take include:
You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:
If your university does not require that you take those math classes, I would strongly recommend that you take them as electives. This is because they are key classes for machine learning and, if you want to go to grad school, they will be important classes to have on your transcript.
Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include
Important things to be aware of when taking the degree
Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. By doing so you will be able to optimize your classes to be suited towards what you want to do after graduation.
If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes. It would also be important to make sure to take calculus and linear algebra as a freshman or sophomore if they are not required in your major.
Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.
If you think that you want to go to grad school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student. It would also be important to look at what classes graduate schools want to see when accepting CS master’s applicants.
More details about the computer science major
Reasons to choose a computer science major
A computer science bachelor’s degree is currently one of the best bachelor’s degrees to get when it comes to finding a good-paying job. It is also a field that is expected to continue to grow quickly in demand in the coming years especially as machine learning and data science become more widespread.
When compared with an electrical engineering major, it is also easier and should require a lot less time studying. This should allow you to have some extra time to focus on applying to jobs, internships, to do research, and to complete projects related to the job you are interested in. It also means that you will have more time to socialize which will often be limited in electrical engineering.
Reasons to choose an electrical engineering major
An electrical engineering degree can also give you very good job prospects with just a bachelor’s degree. However, the predicted job growth is lower than computer science.
If you like applied mathematics and you find electrical engineering interesting, an electrical engineering degree could be more appropriate for you than a computer science major.
An alternative to consider would be to major in electrical engineering and to minor in computer science. This would allow you to qualify for the bachelor’s level electrical engineering jobs while also qualifying for most computer science jobs. This should put you in a very good position upon graduation. However, it will require a lot of time spent studying. Alternatively, you could major in computer engineering which combines CS and electrical engineering and is more focused on computer hardware.