If you are deciding between majoring in finance or mechanical 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
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Most finance jobs|
require longer working
hours than most mechanical
engineering jobs and can
Can qualify for a number
of jobs with just a bachelor’s
High potential pay at the
A hard major.
Lots of possible job paths.
Average predicted job growth.
Good reported job satisfaction.
Source for finance salary and jobs
There are many things to consider when deciding between the two degrees. Also, there are other things to consider if you do decide to major in either of them such as what classes you should take.
Details about a mechanical engineering degree
Below are some details about a degree in mechanical engineering.
According to Payscale, the average pay of a mechanical engineer is $80,251. This is higher than the average pay of most degrees including most engineering degrees including civil engineering. It is also higher than the average reported pay for finance which is $71,173. However, it is lower than the average reported pay for computer engineering ($87,000), electrical engineering ($92,000) and computer science($85,000).
The predicted growth rate for mechanical engineering jobs is 4%, in total, over the next decade and the number of mechanical engineering jobs is said to be 320,000 (source). This, by itself, would give the mechanical engineering major moderately good job prospects.
However, mechanical engineering can also qualify you for jobs in related fields including industrial engineering which has a 10% predicted growth rate. This means that mechanical engineering can have good job prospects, provided that you choose to take classes relevant to areas that are growing and which already have a large number of jobs, at least above 300,000.
Jobs you can qualify for with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering can include:
- Mechanical engineer
- Manufacturing engineer
- Design engineer
- Project engineer
- Aerospace engineer
Mechanical engineering is a difficult major. It will include a lot of math classes, a lot of physics classes and the mechanical engineering classes, themselves, can be difficult which also include a lot of physics and mathematics. Overall, you can expect mechanical engineering to be harder than finance.
Below are some classes you can expect to take in mechanical engineering:
- Differential equations
- Fluid dynamics
Things to consider
Mechanical engineering is a major that will involve a lot of study time. If you are choosing the major purely for the job opportunities, there are better alternatives that do not require as much study time such as computer science.
However, mechanical engineering can be a pathway into very interesting careers that are very satisfying. Before choosing mechanical engineering as a major, it would help a lot to research the different jobs you could get and to see if they are things that you would truly enjoy doing.
Details about a finance major
Below are some details about the finance major.
According to payscale, the average pay of someone with a finance degree is $71,737 and the hourly rate is $20.64 dollars.
When compared with most degrees, a finance degree usually comes out on top in terms of pay. A finance degree also has a high ceiling in terms of potential pay for senior-level positions.
Types of jobs you can qualify for
A finance degree can qualify you for a number of different types of jobs that are available to people with just a bachelor’s degree. This is not something that can be said for many other degrees where a master’s degree is often required to be competitive in the job market.
With that being said, some jobs, such as investment banking, will be very hard to get into if you do not have a degree from an ivy league university or an ivy league equivalent university.
Jobs that you can qualify for with a finance degree can include:
- Financial analyst
- Data analyst
- Investment analyst
- Financial advisor
- Credit analyst
- Budget analyst
Something to consider about the jobs you will qualify for is that they are often reported as being stressful jobs. This is likely to be due to high working hours, high levels of competition, some of them being commission-based and the fact that you will be dealing with other people’s money.
With that being said, the major does have a below-average unemployment rate, so you should not have too much difficulty finding a job, there is good pay and finance jobs are expected to grow by more than the average across all jobs.
Difficulty of the major
A finance undergraduate degree can have some moderately difficult classes. However, there will not be many math-heavy classes. With that being the case, a degree in finance will usually be less difficult than a mechanical engineering degree which will involve more math-heavy classes.
Classes you can expect to take in the major can include:
- Micro and macro economics
- Personal finance concepts
- Project management
- Fundamentals of marketing
- Principles of business
- Corporate finance
- Managerial accounting
- Other upper-level finance courses as available
Things to consider
If you choose to get a degree in finance, it would help a lot to consider what types of finance jobs you are most interested in so that you can optimize your classes accordingly.
Many people that are able to get a high paying job immediately after graduating with a finance degree, usually will have completed internships during the summer breaks. So, it would help a lot to try to get one or two internships completed while you are in the major during the summers.
It could also help to get a minor in a field that is related to the types of jobs that you are interested in. Often, finance majors find themselves in roles that involve a lot of accounting, so getting a minor in accounting could be very useful.
Reasons to choose a mechanical engineering major
A mechanical engineering degree should qualify you for many jobs with just a bachelor’s degree.
Also, mechanical engineering jobs tend to be very satisfying jobs that are also very interesting and important to society.
However, a mechanical 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. Despite that, the working hours on the job will be lower than in finance most of the time.
Reasons to choose a finance major
A finance degree can also give good job prospects. If you enjoy competitive environments, a finance degree could suit you well. Also, finance does have very high potential pay in the long run since senior-level positions can pay very well. However, finance jobs can require long working hours and can be highly stressful.