If you are deciding between majoring in statistics 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.
At a glance:
|Ease of finding a job||Moderate||High|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Very employable if|
you combine it with
a minor in CS.
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
|Most finance jobs|
require longer working
hours than most statistics
Can qualify for a number
of jobs with just a bachelor’s
High potential pay at the
Source for statistics 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 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. This is similar to the hourly reported rate for applied math which is $23.70. However, most finance jobs will have low initial pay, when compared with jobs that math majors typically get, but the finance jobs can quickly rise in pay once you have a few years of experience and often have very high ceilings in terms of your potential salary.
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. Overall, you can expect a finance degree to be a lot easier than a degree in statistics which will feature many math classes.
Classes you can expect to take in the major can include:
- Microeconomics and macroeconomics
- Personal finance concepts
- Project management
- Fundamentals of marketing
- Principles of business
- Corporate finance
- Managerial accounting
- Other upper-level finance courses as available
Details about a statistics major
Below are some key details about the statistics 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 statistics is $69,767.
Something to consider is that many of the more statistical and well-paid jobs, such as a data scientist or machine learning engineer, will often require a master’s degree.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a stats degree will open you up to many different job opportunities.
However, many of the jobs that stats majors tend to seek such as a quantitative researcher or machine learning engineer often require a master’s degree (but not always). They can also require more specialized knowledge that you might not get in a statistics degree. This is why it would help to make sure to choose your classes according to the job you are most interested in.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a master’s in stats could include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Quantitative researcher
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree there will be many different jobs that you will qualify for.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a bachelor’s in stats could include:
- Financial analyst
- Insurance underwriter
- Data analyst
- Software engineer
- Market researcher
- Actuary (requires lots of stats classes)
However, statistics is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something things such as computer science and finance 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 stats 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.
With that being said, there are some people that have gotten data science and machine learning jobs with just a bachelor’s. 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. It would also help to take computer science classes in your electives, especially data structures and algorithms.
Types of classes you will study
As a statistics major you can expect to take the following classes:
How difficult it is as a major
The statistics major is generally considered as being a moderately difficult degree by STEM standards. Some of the more advanced classes can be proof-based which tends to be much harder than the more computational classes but you might not have to take those classes depending on your specific program. When compared with finance, you can expect statistics to be harder.
Some things to consider about the major
A Statistics 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 statistics taught in a stats major is useful in a wide variety of fields but you will need to supplement it with some field-specific coursework so that you are able to show that you can apply the statistics to those fields.
A very good combination would be to major in statistics 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.
Majoring in computer science and minoring in statistics is also a very good combination. If you want to go down the data science route, it would also help to make sure to take some statistics and data analysis classes.
More details about the statistics major
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 statistics 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 statistics degree
While a statistics bachelor’s degree won’t qualify you for as many jobs by itself, it can still help to qualify you for very interesting jobs if you take classes related to that job, complete projects and get summer internships. Also, it can still qualify you for a number of jobs by itself including as a data analyst.
Currently, a very popular job among statistics majors is 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 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.