If you are deciding between majoring in economics 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:
|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.
Can be difficult to
get a job with just
Many of the more
jobs require at least
a master’s degree.
Becomes a lot more
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Source for economics salary 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 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. It is also higher than the average reported pay for economics which is reported as being $71,173. This could be because electrical engineering is more directly applicable to jobs at the bachelor’s degree level. Whereas, economics is a more general degree and a master’s degree is often required to qualify for the high-paying jobs.
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.
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. You should expect electrical engineering to be a lot more difficult than most economics majors.
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.
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 electrical engineering.
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 degree, by itself, can be difficult to get a job with. 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 good-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
Reasons to choose an electrical engineering major
The key advantage that an electrical engineering degree has over an economics degree is that it is a very employable degree by itself. This is because the degree directly applicable to a number of high-paying jobs at the bachelor’s degree level. Whereas, an economics degree needs to be combined with something more applied in order to make it as employable as an electrical engineering degree.
Also, electrical engineering jobs tend to be very satisfying jobs that are also very interesting.
However, an electrical engineering degree will require a lot of study time. There are some alternative degrees that can also give good job prospects that do not require as much study time such as computer science.
Reasons to choose an economics degree
While an electrical 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 an electrical 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 electrical 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. It is also important to consider what type of job you are most interested in and to choose your major accordingly.