If you are deciding between majoring in electrical 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
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.
|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 analysis skills.
Source for math salary and jobs
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees and there are many similarities between them. Below, is 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. It is also significantly higher than the average reported pay of a math major which is $76,684. This could be because electrical engineering is more applied to specific job roles than mathematics which is more general in nature.
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 can also expect it to be equivalently difficult to a math major which is also a very difficult major.
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 math degree
Below are some key details about the math major.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians (and statisticians) will rise by 33% by 2026. 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 mathematics is $76,684.
Something to consider is that many of the more mathematical and well-paid jobs will often require a master’s degree and that you take classes related to data science and machine learning.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
Since mathematics is used in many different fields, a math degree will open you up to many different job opportunities.
However, many of the jobs that mathematicians tend to seek such as a quantitative researcher or machine learning engineer require a master’s degree.
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree there will be many different jobs that you will qualify for.
However, math is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something such as computer science or the different engineering degrees are. 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 math 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.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a master’s in math could include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Quantitative researcher
- Math teacher
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a bachelor’s in math could include:
- Financial analyst
- Insurance underwriter
- Data analyst
- Software engineer
- Market researcher
- Actuary (requires lots of statistics classes)
With that being said, there are some people that have gotten data science and machine learning jobs with just a bachelor’s degree in math. 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.
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 is not as applied to types of jobs like electrical engineering is, it can still be very employable if you combine it with something such as computer science and learn programming.
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 electrical engineering
When compared with a math degree by itself, you can expect an electrical engineering bachelor’s degree to qualify you for more jobs that are high-paying. This is because the major is more applied to specific job roles.
Also, the math used in a electrical engineering degree will usually be much more computational than the math in advanced math classes. Most students tend to prefer these computational classes over the proof-based math classes because.
Additionally, an electrical engineering bachelor’s degree is highly employable by itself. Whereas, it is often necessary to get a master’s degree in applied mathematics to qualify for high-paying jobs such as in data science.
Overall, if you are unsure between the two degrees, I would recommend choosing electrical engineering over mathematics because it will qualify you for more jobs that have high levels of satisfaction and high pay. Alternatively, there are other degrees that you might want to consider including computer science and computer engineering that also have good job opportunities.