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Best degree to choose for money?

  1. Aug 29, 2015 #1
    HI. Will begin looking to start college, need career advice. I have been looking into investment banking and it seems interesting. What degree would you choose or should I choose for the money?

    Computer Science
    Or others

    I may be mildly dyscalculiac
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2015 #2
    1) I don't think it's a good idea to choose a degree based on how much you could earn afterwards. If you want to do well in your degree, which you need to if you want to become an investment banker as it's a very competitive career track, you'll need more motivation than "I might be able to earn so much money later".
    2) Physics would be a good choice (although I might be slightly biased). Physicists tend to pop up everywhere. A recruiter at a strategy consulting firm (another place where you could earn quite some money) once told me physics is, in her opinion, the best degree one interesting in working in strategy consulting could possibly do. Apparently the abstract analytical skills you pick up in your physics degree are very valuable. The same holds of course (to some extend) for degrees like mathematics, engineering, and computer science.
    3) In the end it doesn't matter that much. I've met people working in strategy consulting with various backgrounds, including physics, finance, psychology and politology. My guess is that the same more or less holds for investment banking. You just have to do very well in your degree, have plenty of analytical skills (for which a degree like physics might help more than certain other degrees), be a teamplayer, and make it through the interviews.
    I met a guy working in strategy consulting who had studied finance for more or less the reason you stated, who told me he regretted not having studied mechanical engineering instead because he would've found it a lot more interesting and it wouldn't have mattered for the job he has now.

    So my advise would be to find a degree you find really interesting, and do well there. Hope this helps.
  4. Sep 1, 2015 #3


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    I disagree, there are PLENTY of people in finance (city of London) who are only in it for the money. I've met lots of people who's aim it is is (or at least was, prior to 2008) to make lots of money quickly and then retire when they were in their mid 40s .
    It is is a crazy lifestyle and you can more or less forget about having a normal life for the next 15-20 years (i.e. forget about having kids unless you have a stay-at-home spouse), but it is possible. That said, I also know people who basically ran out of steam when they were in their mid-30s and then struggled to find a new job since they were not willing to (or able to, because of having started a family) to work those hours.
    Why anyone would choose to do this is beyond me.

    There are other careers where you can be reasonably sure to make quite a bit of money while at the same time living a a somewhat more normal life (but expect to work a LOT). Medicine and law (especially corporate law or/and anything related to finance).

    If you interested in math/physics and economics you might want to look into financial engineering.
  5. Sep 1, 2015 #4
    Amplifying on what JBosma wrote: if money were the only criterion, get a degree in business and become an entrepreneur. Start socializing NOW. Learn a business and parlay that experience toward running and investing in others.

    You need to decide what amuses you. Decide if there is anything about it that you want to make in to a career. You might find that you're quite good at something that feels a lot like work, but pays quite well. You can then use that money to enjoy the interests you would rather live for.

    The bottom line is that you can either work to fund your passion, or throw your passion in to your work. But if you expect your work to be quite lucrative, you'll have to put some effort in to it. You are not likely to make anything more than a mediocre living unless you are willing to put your heart and soul in to whatever it is that you do. And for many, that's okay. They use their work to fund their other interests. I knew a field technician who was really in to astrophysics and amateur astronomy. I know another guy who likes to rebuild old cars for fun. I know lots of people through my hobbies and other interests whose professional lives are entirely orthogonal to what they do off hours.

    Be well rounded. Have interests. They don't all have to be plowed in to your work, and your work doesn't have to be all about the money, either.
  6. Sep 1, 2015 #5
    Of course you are 100% right here, so let me clarify a bit what I exactly tried to say. Having a job purely for the money is fine. Preparing yourself well for such a job by doing the right things during college (networking, extra-curricular activities, getting good grades, etc) is also fine, even strongly advisable I'd say. But choosing a degree purely for the money you might make after graduation is quite another thing. 1) You're not earning that money yet so I think it would be less motivating than working for the money and actually earning it already. 2) After your degree, you'll still have to get into your chosen field of money making, which is very competitive. This might also negatively influence your motivation, or least cause extra stress (although some people thrive on this kind of competition).

    Adding my other points to this (i.e. that your exact degree doesn't necessarily influence your odds at getting into those fields that much), I'd advise choosing a degree you are actually thematically interested in. This will make it a lot easier to do well grade-wise, giving you better odds at getting a competitive well-earning job (if after graduating that's still what you want), and along the way you'll be more likely to find "back-up plans" that you actually care about, preventing you from being stuck with a degree you don't care about in case you don't succeed in getting your top job or you discover along the way that money isn't your top priority after all.
    Adding to what JakeBrodskyPE wrote, this will help you become well rounded (which in turn will probably help during interviews, "I just want to earn heaps of money" might get repetitive as an answer to questions about your motivation for various decisions in your life).

    Note: my advise applies to career tracks like strategy consulting and investment banking, for which your exact degree doesn't matter that much. If you plan on making money by being a doctor or lawyer, then obviously you do need to choose your degree accordingly.
  7. Sep 1, 2015 #6
  8. Sep 1, 2015 #7
    You might as well ask us to choose an ice cream flavor for you. We have no idea what you like, what your aspirations are, what your family situation is like, your level of education, what work experience you may have, or anything else about you. And yet somehow you want us to suggest a path that will have ramifications for the rest of your life.

    You need to do some soul searching to figure out what you like, what you want to do, what sort of lifestyle you are willing to live with, how much patience and perseverance you have and so on and so forth. When you know these things you'll have a pretty good idea of what choices would work best for you.
  9. Sep 1, 2015 #8
    Meh, if it's money you're after, the degree is probably the least important part. Not unimportant, by any means. . .

    If you need to be told which degree to get to become wealthy, you aren't self-starting enough (edit - or have parent rich enough) to become wealthy. Shoot for reasonably well to-do. Lots and lots of majors will meet that criteria.
  10. Sep 1, 2015 #9
    Mathematics. A robust topic that is a foundation for many career paths. You know it makes sense.
  11. Sep 1, 2015 #10


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    BTW, the OP did mention that he may suffer a mild case of dyscalculia.


    To the OP:

    Have you ever been formally tested for dyscalculia? Do you find it difficult to grasp numbers or mathematical ideas? I find it interesting that you are thinking of pursuing either economics or computer science as majors, given the high level of mathematical content in both programs.
  12. Sep 1, 2015 #11
    It is a fair descision to postulate. Be rich having a life you hate or be happy and get way less than you think you deserve. Many people decide to choose the former. Good for them.

    Just remember, no one wants a burned out quant that London or New York has thrown aside. No one wants to retrain that husk of a person into something that person loved to do, but decided didn't pay enough.

    It is all a trap. People think they can work for a couple of years, selling their souls, bank all that cash, then go back and get their dream career anyway. For most, it doesn't work out.
    Then you also discover that you have no friends and your wife/girlfriend only stays with you for the cash, as you never have time for her. (I guess the other way it has a kind of different dynamic) Why would she stay with you if you quit your finance job (or more likely, get fired) and even that reason for her to stay is gone?
  13. Sep 2, 2015 #12


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    I didn't interpret the OP as asking how to become wealthy. There are -as I pointed out above- lots of people who's career goal is to make money. However, most of them are fully aware that they will never become "rich" (whatever that means). A reasonably successful investment banker can have an annual income that is perhaps 10-15 times higher than the average UK annual salary (which is about £24K), but the problem is of course that there are lots of bankers around (at least in places like London). Hence, this money will "only" be enough to buy say a £3M 4-bedroom house in one of the nicer parts of the city and send your kids (if you have any) to private school and perhaps retire when you are in your early 50s. There are probably tens of thousands of people like this is London (which is why the house prices are what they are).
    There is a -as least here in the UK- a fairly clear career path if this is your goal. It is competitive but probably no more competitive than say academia (there any many more jobs in banks than at universities) and you do not need to be a great entrepreneur.

    If you want to make LOTS of money you need to do something else (e.g. set up your own company). This is much, much harder and you need to be very lucky. I don't think anyone can tell how to do that.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
  14. Sep 5, 2015 #13
    A lot of people are doing the actuarial science degrees (those are the accredited ones that allow you to waive off a few exams to become a registered actuary). IMO this is superior to economics, but the level of math and finance is very high.
    But there aren't that many professional actuaries out there. The degree is still good though for investment banking I think
  15. Sep 5, 2015 #14
    In the US and Canada, the only thing an actuarial science degree is good for is to become an actuary. Anything else, and there's a better degree one should have gotten. In the US I even advise people looking to become an actuary NOT to get an actuarial science degree; statistics will work just as well, and offers many other opportunities if the exams don't pan out.
  16. Sep 5, 2015 #15
    Earnings can certainly be greater in the world of finance than in science, there are few if any billionaires who made their fortunes from scientific endeavour.
    Then again financiers don't have any opportunity to become famous by making new discoveries, while science does offer that possibility.
    The most successful financiers tend to be naturally talented in gambling and advertising etc, which are fringe areas as far as most of science is concerned.
    You might like the idea of a career in financial software development though (stock market trading etc)
    This encompasses elements of both research and applied mathematics, but is firmly a part of the commercial world.
  17. Sep 5, 2015 #16
    Can anybody suggest a good place to volunteer for a project for a about 03 months
    I just finished high school and interested in nanotechnology and medicine fields (or anyother physics related fields )
  18. Sep 5, 2015 #17
    If you soley want money, under the current economic system, then you should choose merchant banking.

    I'd suggest that should you try to predict two things before making this decision. Firstly if you will always only be interested in money, secondly how long the current economic system will hold for. These are very difficult for you to predict, at such a young age (presumably), but will dramactically affect the outcome of your decision.
  19. Sep 6, 2015 #18
    When I was a kid, my favorite toy was Legos. I was always building Lego cities and making Lego bridges. So I should have been a civil engineer.
    I was headed for engineering when, well, life happened. Cataclysmic events in my formative teen years. Never finished the degree,
    Now I'm in my mid-50s and going back to school to finish that BS in engineering.
    I don't really need that degree, but I want it.
    So my point is this: you should study what you like, what interests you, what fires your sparkplug. Otherwise you'll end up with a job and a life you dread and the money will be meaningless.
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