If you are deciding between majoring in mathematics 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.
|Ease of finding a job||Good||Moderate|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Most finance jobs|
require long working
Can qualify for a number
of jobs with just a bachelor’s
High potential pay at the
|Requires a very large|
Not very employable
Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills,
especially in Python
Source for math 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 math which is $20.69. 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 mathematics.
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
Details about the math major
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. However, the average pay for a fresh graduate entering their first job will likely be a lot lower than that.
Something to consider is that many of the more mathematical and well-paid jobs, such as a data scientist or machine learning engineer, 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 can be 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.
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
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree, there will be many different jobs that you could qualify for.
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
However, math is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way degrees 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 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.
With that being said, there are some people that have gotten data science and machine learning jobs with just a bachelor’s 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 math classes you will study
As a math major you can expect to take the following classes:
You can also expect to have the choice to take other advanced math classes or to take classes from related disciplines such as computer science, statistics and physics.
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. 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, again, it would also help a lot to minor in computer science.
Other majors to consider
If you are interested in a math major, there are other majors that you might also want to consider.
Other majors that you might also want to consider could include:
- Applied mathematics
- Computer science
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 finance major
At the undergraduate level, you can expect a finance degree to qualify you for more jobs when compared with a math 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 math degree
While a math 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.
Currently, a very popular job among math 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 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.
If you are interested in a math degree, I would suggest leaning towards an applied math degree instead of a pure math degree. The reason for this is that an applied math degree should include fewer proof-heavy classes and more classes that are employable in the job market.