If you are deciding between majoring in statistics 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|
A hard major.
Lots of possible job paths.
Average predicted job growth.
Good reported job satisfaction.
|Very employable if|
you combine it with
a minor in CS.
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Well above average
Source for statistics salary and jobs
There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees. Below, are details about each major, their differences and reasons to choose one or the other.
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 statistics which is $70,050. 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 similarly difficult to statistics.
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 statistics major
Below are some key details about the statistics major.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for statisticians will rise by 33% by 2029. 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 $70,050.
Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mathematicians and statisticians will rise by 33% by 2029 compared to 2019.
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.
Since statistics is used in many different fields, a statistics degree should open you up to many different job opportunities.
According to Payscale, the most common reported jobs people, with a statistics degree, report having are:
And a Business analyst
However, because it is a general degree, if you get a statistics degree without taking more applied classes, it can be difficult to compete for more specialized positions.
If you do end up choosing a statistics major, this means that you should take courses from the field that you want to enter, do summer internships and to complete projects related that field as well in order to be competitive when seeking a job.
It also means that alternative majors such as computer science or the different engineering degrees are likely to give you an easier time when looking for a job after graduating.
This is also shown in the data, since computer science and engineering both report having higher average pay than statistics.
Many statistics majors go into software engineering after graduation.
If you want to qualify for software engineering jobs then it would help to make sure to take a data structures and algorithms class since the material from that class gets tested heavily in software engineering interviews.
It would also help to try to get some internships as a software engineer while in college. To qualify for these internships, it would help to complete a number of software engineering projects, such as a web app, in order to show recruiters you know what you are doing.
Currently, data science is becoming a very popular career path among statistics majors.
To qualify for data science jobs, it would help to make sure to learn Python programming, data analysis using the Pandas library, machine learning, to complete data science projects as an undergrad and to try to get data science internships.
If you combine a statistics degree with software engineering skills and classes related to machine learning and data science, it would put you in a very good position upon graduation since software engineering, data science and machine learning engineering jobs are all very well paid with strong predicted job growth over the next decade.
If you get a statistics degree by itself, it would still put you in a good position to be competitive for “analyst” type roles but they do not pay nearly as well as data science, software engineering and machine learning engineering.
Types of classes you will study
As a statistics major you can expect to take the following classes:
- Differential calculus
- Integral calculus
- Multivariate calculus
- Linear algebra
- Discrete math
- Mathematical statistics
- Data analysis
You can also expect to have the option to take other statistics classes and related classes as available.
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 many of those classes depending on your specific program.
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. It would also help to do some self-directed study in order to learn useful skills that might not be taughtt in the classroom such as Python programming and data analysis using Python.
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
I have written more about how to do well in a stats major here and I have written more about whether or not a stats degree is worth it here.
Reasons to choose a statistics degree
While a statistics degree, by itself, won’t usually qualify you for as many high paying entry-level jobs as mechanical engineering, it can be more employable if you combine it with something such as computer science and data science knowledge. A statistics degree combined with computer science and data science knowledge is arguably one of the most employable combinations you can get right now due to the large number of jobs available already and the high predicted job growth.
Also, the demand for statistics majors is increasing sharply due to the increasing amounts of data that companies are getting. It is likely that the career paths that statistics can lead you down, such as data science, will continue to be highly in demand for many years.
If you do choose to get a statistics 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. It would also help to make sure to get good at programming, especially in R and Python, since many statistics jobs require programming and data analysis knowledge.
Reasons to choose mechanical engineering
When compared with a statistics bachelor’s degree by itself, you can expect a mechanical engineering degree to qualify you for more jobs at the entry-level. However, a statistics degree combined with computer science and data science can be a lot more employable.
Furthermore, the jobs that a mechanical engineering degree can qualify you for tend to be very interesting jobs that have high levels of satisfaction. Although, many of the statistics jobs can be very interesting in their own right.
Ultimately, they are both well-respected degrees with good job opportunities when combined with the right class choices. It would help to consider what you find most interesting and what sorts of jobs you are most interested in when deciding on which degree would be best for you.