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BA in EE or Physics?

  1. Nov 16, 2009 #1


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    I really believed that I had my mind made up on the direction I wanted to go, but as the time draws near for me to begin my academic adventure I realized I have been operating on an assumed belief... That it is easier to get a job with a BA in Electrical Engineering than with a BA in Physics.

    I have ultimately chosen EE on this assumption, so I thought it might be wise to get some clarification on this point.

    Please, any and all opinions.

    (the fact that reading through the EE forum scares the *&$% out of me doesn't help either)



    P.S. I am sure this has been discussed many times, so I apologize if my question is redundant.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2009 #2
    At the BA level I would say with a fairly high level of certainty that it's easier to get a job with an engineering degree than a physics degree. Let starting salaries be evidence of this.

    Undergrad electrical engineers start at over $55k (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm). According to AIP, physics undergrads in private sector STEM start at $45k (http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/highlite/emp2/figure7.htm). BLS puts physics PhDs at $52k starting salary (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos052.htm).

    Obviously that last number is skewed by postdocs, but the $45k vs $55k average is telling. There are also a lot of other dynamics involved after the initial job, but if you're simply asking about how easy it is to get a job, engineers are in higher demand.

    Edit: The EE major wouldn't be a BA would it? That makes it more complicated. I'm assuming we're talking about an ABET accredited US degree.

    While I'm at it, if the EE forum scares you, engineers are in high demand in a wide range of fields depending on your other background including management, finance, consulting, technical sales, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  4. Nov 16, 2009 #3


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    Actually, those topics scare me more than anything. I'll take my chances with Electrical Engineering.

    Thank you for your input, and the links you provided. Those were actually quite useful.
    I think I am just getting the last minute jitters and over-reacting.
  5. Nov 17, 2009 #4
    Don't worry too much - just maybe try to turn that energy in to extra studying! I don't know most of the super specific things talked about on the engineering forums, and I graduated :bugeye:. Remember, you'll still get some core physics classes and be able to take physics electives as an EE if you choose to do so. You'll have time to change your mind after you get started too.

    Those BLS pages are great even if they are just extreme high level views of the average job in each field. There's a lot of other information out there also if you're looking for more specific job info. Your career services office is probably a good place to start.
  6. Nov 17, 2009 #5


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    That is exactly what I was going to say. There is a lot of specialization even after you have already specialized to electrical. For instance, where I went, there were actually five different kinds of electrical engineering curricula: electronics, controls, communications, E&M, and power. And even then, by the senior year, these get more specialized to specific senior projects. So, for instance: I can get along OK with communications; controls is a bit of a stretch for me, and I have almost no clue about power.

    Also, I new people in my department who got minors in physics. If you like physics, that might be an option. I never understood any of their physics homework at the time; it was so mysterious and alluring ...
  7. Nov 18, 2009 #6


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    I believe my perspective has been distorted. There are so many questions being thrown around that I think I assumed most people asking were newbie's like me. I suppose that a lot of those questions are being asked by people who are specialized in one thing, but not in the other... So explaining that actually helps a great deal.

    As for physics, I am planning on doing a minor in physics, although I heard this wouldn't be too much of a stretch because of the physics already involved.

    The school I am looking at also has seven different specialties in EE,
    http://www.ee.uidaho.edu/whyelectrical.html [Broken],
    and I believe three specialties are required in this program. Not sure what I would choose yet, but I believe power will be one of 'em.

    Anyhow, thanks again for both of your inputs. I do appreciate it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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