If you are deciding between majoring in physics or finance, 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.

Payscale reported
average pay
Ease of finding a jobModerate/GoodModerate
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Financial analyst
Data analyst
Investment analyst
Financial advisor
Credit analyst
Software engineer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Mechanical engineer
Difficulty of the
Key things to noteMost finance jobs
require long working

Can qualify for a number
of jobs with just a bachelor’s

High potential pay at the
senior levels.
Generally, not as
employable, by itself, as a
finance degree at the
bachelor’s level.

Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer

Also employable if
you combine it with
programming and
data analysis skills.
Source for finance salary and jobs
Source for physics pay 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 finance degree

Below are some details about a degree in finance.

Average pay

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. Also, finance jobs will often have large end of year bonuses.

Types of jobs you can qualify for

Just a finance bachelor’s degree can qualify you for a number of different jobs. 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
  • Accountant
  • 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. When compared with a physics degree, you can expect a finance degree to be a lot easier.


Classes you can expect to take in the major can include:

  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Personal finance concepts
  • Project management
  • Accounting
  • Fundamentals of marketing
  • Principles of business
  • Corporate finance
  • Managerial accounting
  • Other upper-level finance courses as available

Details about a physics degree

Below are some details about a degree in physics.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average pay of someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics is $86,600.

However, something to be aware of is that the average pay of someone fresh out of college, with no work experience, will likely be a lot lower than that.

On average, the job opportunities for someone graduating with a physics degree will likely be higher than the job opportunities with a BSc in economics. But, it can still be difficult for physics majors to find jobs and there are alternative degrees that can give better job opportunities such as computer science and engineering.

Job opportunities

A physics degree can give access to a wide range of job opportunities. However, a physics degree can be quite general in nature and it can be difficult to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in physics. However, this will depend a lot on the classes that you choose to take. You can also greatly improve your job prospects by minoring in something more applied such as computer science, completing programming projects and getting summer internships.

Jobs that you could get with a bachelor’s degree in physics could include:

Software engineer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Mechanical engineer

Physics can give good job opportunities if you combine it with more practical skills. Currently, data science is a popular career path for physics majors. If you are interested in data science, it would help to learn programming, data analysis, machine learning to complete data science projects and to take a number of computer science classes including data structures and algorithms.

Another popular career path is a software engineer. To get these jobs, it would help to take a number of computer science classes, to learn programming in languages such as javascript and Python and to complete software engineering projects such as to create a web app.


A physics degree can also be a very difficult degree and you will have to put a lot of time into the degree. A physics degree will involve a lot more math than most economics degrees and the actual physics classes can be difficult. Overall, you should expect the degree to require more time than a finance degree.


You can expect to take math classes such as:

Differential calculus
Integral calculus
Multivariate calculus
Differential equations
Linear algebra
Partial differential equations

In addition you can expect to have the option to take more math classes if you would like. You might also have the option to take some classes from related disciplines such as statistics, engineering and computer science.

You can also expect to take multiple physics classes including:

Introduction to physics
Mechanics and waves
Electricity and magnetism
Quantum physics
Statistical mechanics

You can look here to see an example of required classes in a physics degree.

Differences between a degree in physics and finance

Below are some of the key differences between the two degrees.

A physics degree is generally more demanding

A physics degree will be heavier on mathematics than a finance degree at the undergraduate level. The junior and senior level classes, in a physics degree, can be especially difficult. As a result, you can expect a physics degree to be a lot more difficult and time-demanding than a finance undergraduate degree.

A physics degree should involve more programming

Also, most physics degrees will require that you take some classes from computer science. As a result, a physics degree can better prepare you for programming related job roles than a finance degree.

However, it would still be important to make sure to take additional programming and computer science classes as electives if you want a programming type role. Getting a minor in computer science could also go a long way in improving your job prospects after graduating.

Reasons to choose a finance major

At the undergraduate level, you can expect a finance degree to qualify you for more jobs when compared with a physics degree by itself. Also, a finance degree will require a lower time commitment, this should help to give you the time to apply for summer internships and to complete projects related to the jobs that you are interested in. Additionally, a finance degree will usually have higher potential pay in the long run.

However, finance jobs tend to require long working hours and the jobs often have low job satisfaction ratings. Before choosing the degree, it would help to consider what sort of working environment would suit you the most and what you would find satisfying personally.

Reasons to choose a physics degree

While a finance degree can qualify you for a lot of jobs, a physics degree can also qualify you for a lot of jobs as well and they also often have high levels of job satisfaction. However, in order to qualify for good jobs, it will be important to make sure to take classes related to that job.

Currently, many STEM majors are interested in machine learning and data science. If that is what you are interested in, it would help to make sure to learn to program in R and Python and to take statistics, data analysis, computer science and machine learning classes.

An additional way to improve your job prospects would be to minor in another degree that also has good job prospects such as computer science. Doing this could help you to qualify for more programming type roles and could help you when applying to graduate school for things such as machine learning or computer science.


I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.