If you are deciding between majoring in engineering or statistics, 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||Good||Moderate|
|Types of jobs|
you can qualify for
|Difficulty of the|
|Key things to note||Can give good job|
prospects with just
a bachelor’s degree.
Many of the more
a master’s degree.
The jobs you will
qualify for will depend
a lot on the specific
type of engineering
degree you choose.
|Not as directly |
employable as an
unless you take applied
Very employable if
you combine it with
a more applied minor
such as computer
Also employable if
you combine it with
data analysis skills.
Source for engineering salary and jobs
As you can see from the table, there are many similarities between the two degrees. However, there are many things to consider when choosing between them.
Details about a degree in statistics
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.
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.
With that being said, even with just a bachelor’s degree there will be many different jobs that you will qualify for.
However, statistics is a general degree that is not specific to a certain type of job in the way something such as computer science or the different engineering degrees 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.
Another popular path for statistics majors to take is of data science. In that case, it would help to take classes related to machine learning, data analysis and programming. It would also help to make sure to learn how to program in R and Python as they are common languages used in data science.
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.
Examples of jobs that you could qualify for with a master’s in stats could include:
- Machine learning engineer
- Data scientist
- Quantitative researcher
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)
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:
In addition, you will be able to choose more specialized statistics classes as well as classes from related disciplines such as mathematics and computer science.
How difficult it is as a major
The statistics major is generally considered as being a difficult major. However, you can expect it to be about the same level of difficulty as most engineering degrees which can also be difficult. Some of the more advanced classes can be proof-based which are usually much harder than the more computational classes but you might not have to take 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.
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.
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.
Details about a degree in engineering
Below are details about a degree in engineering.
It can pay well
According to Payscale, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering is $85,100. This puts engineering among the highest paying degrees to obtain.
Engineering is also a major that will give you good job prospects with just a bachelor’s degree.
However, many of the better jobs will require a master’s degree. Getting one will also improve your long-term pay prospects. However, this can be said for most majors.
Something to consider is that the average salary will vary depending on the specific field that you are intending to enter. You can look here to see what the median and average pay is for each of the different types of engineering degrees.
Also, the job progression and working hours will depend a lot on the specific field you want to enter.
Before choosing an engineering degree, it would help a lot to do lots of research on the specific type of engineering degree that you are interested in and to make sure that it has good job prospects. It would also help to make sure that it is something that you would be interested in doing.
Job prospects are projected to improve
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it is expected that there will be a total of 139,300 new jobs by 2026 when compared to 2016. You can look here to see how each of the different types of engineering jobs are projected to improve.
Many people with engineering degrees go down the software engineering route. These jobs tend to pay well and be less demanding than most other engineering roles unless there are deadlines coming up.
With that being the case, picking up a minor in computer science will help to broaden your job prospects significantly. Make sure to take computer science algorithms and data structures since that is what gets tested in software engineering interviews. It would also help to complete software engineering projects that you can use to showcase your skills to help in getting an interview. One option would be to develop an interactive website.
It can be difficult to get a high GPA
Engineering majors are, usually, majors with a high dropout rate. There are many possible reasons for this but one main reason is that an engineering major is more challenging than people would expect.
Engineering will make use of a lot of mathematics. In engineering, you will need to learn, single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra, discrete math and differential equations. These can be difficult classes that will require a lot of time spent studying. Many students are not willing to put the necessary amount of time into studying for these classes so they end up not doing very well in them.
However, if you are also interested in a statistics degree, it is likely that you will be able to do well on the math side of an engineering degree which is where most students struggle.
Another thing to consider is your level of interest in the subject. If you are interested in engineering then you will likely have an easier time motivating yourself to continue studying when you are struggling.
Engineering degrees will often require more credits
Another reason that people have a hard time doing well in engineering is that it will often require more credits to graduate than some of the other majors.
This means that you will likely have to take more classes in each semester as an engineering major and you will have to spend more time studying.
There are a number of alternatives if you are thinking of getting an engineering degree.
The alternatives can include:
- Computer science
- Computer engineering
Things to consider
An engineering degree is more applied than statistics so it should give you an easier time when job searching. However, it can still be difficult when job searching especially right after graduation so it could help a lot to improve your job opportunities by also taking classes from a discipline such as computer science. With that being said, a statistics degree can also be very employable if you also combine it with computer science and data analysis using Python or R.
Reasons to choose a statistics degree
While a statistics degree is not as applied to a specific type of job like the different engineering degrees are, it can still be very employable if you combine it with something such as computer science, data analysis and programming.
Also, statistics can be a good major when applying to graduate school as it is a lack of math classes that often makes students less competitive. Although, again, it will still be important to take classes related to the discipline that you are interested in.
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.
Reasons to choose an engineering degree
As mentioned above, most engineering degrees have much better job prospects than a statistics degree by itself. Getting an engineering degree should be a reliable way to put yourself in a good position after graduating.
However, it would still help to try to do internships along the way. It would also greatly improve your employability if you were to also minor in computer science and to take some statistics classes.