Should I be in engineering or mathematics?

In summary: It's not the only way, but it's one way.I also have a BS in mathematics and I will tell something the departments wont:The OP is not necessarily interested in pursuing a career in engineering, so your advice about not being able to get an engineering job with a math degree is not relevant. Additionally, there are many jobs in industries such as finance, insurance, and technology that require strong mathematical skills and do not necessarily require a master's degree. It is important not to generalize and discourage someone from pursuing a degree in mathematics based on your own experiences. Each person's career path is unique
  • #1
dsfrankl
3
0
I've always been very strong in mathematics which led to me becoming an engineering major. As a freshman in this major, I'm doing exceedingly well in my math courses, but terrible in my science courses. I also just hate physics. Nothing about physics or statics or dynamics is capturing my attention. But math? I could do derivatives and integrals and proofs all day long. I'm wondering if I made a mistake in choosing my major. I feel like I would be happier majoring in mathematics. But my real question is, what jobs could I do with a degree in mathematics? I know I don't want to work with anything relating to finances (accountant, actuary, ect) and am not a fan of going into academics. One website said I could do research in math but are there jobs for that? I'd love that, but I don't want to get a degree and not be able to find a job.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
To the OP:

Welcome to PF forums!

If you decide to pursue a degree in mathematics, there are numerous options that are available to you in terms of careers, besides finance. One option that is available to you (especially if you mix your math courses with courses in probability, statistics, and some programming or computer science courses) would be to work in statistics or data science (especially after completing a masters degree in that field).

For example, I'm a statistician working in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and health care fields for the past 16 years, after completing my Bsc in mathematics and a Msc in statistics. Among my responsibilities include addressing the design and analysis of clinical trials for various therapeutic areas, and doing retrospective analyses of past clinical trials of observational studies related to medical treatments.

Another option that is open for you, especially if you enjoy programming, would be to work in software development/IT/tech work. Mathematics often is a natural fit with computer science (much of theoretical CS is pretty much pure math), and many people who double major in such fields often work in the tech sector working in places like Google, Facebook, IBM, etc.

Yet another burgeoning field is in the field of data privacy/cyber-security. We are living in a time where the Internet is reaching ever further corners into our daily lives and our economies, which makes it ever more systems vulnerable to hacking. Thus making cyber-security more important than ever. People with strong backgrounds in mathematics have played important roles in developing strong encryption schemes to strengthen such securities, and I see more opportunities opening in such areas (again, if you combine your math degree with appropriate courses in CS).

Those are just a few of the options or areas that are open to you if you decide to pursue a degree in math (I also did not include options like teaching, or further graduate studies). Hope this gives you a taste of some of the possibilities open for you.
 
  • #3
<Mentor's note: questionable statement removed>

I also have a BS in mathematics and I will tell something the departments wont:

You won't do proofs outside of a university setting(few exceptions being PhD holders who work in niche industry areas), essentially the specific skills you learn won't be used in anything you will likely get employed in because you're not qualified to get hired in an type of engineering role. You will need to do a MS in a different field to get qualifications for employment.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #4
dsfrankl said:
I've always been very strong in mathematics which led to me becoming an engineering major. As a freshman in this major, I'm doing exceedingly well in my math courses, but terrible in my science courses. I also just hate physics. Nothing about physics or statics or dynamics is capturing my attention. But math? I could do derivatives and integrals and proofs all day long. I'm wondering if I made a mistake in choosing my major. I feel like I would be happier majoring in mathematics. But my real question is, what jobs could I do with a degree in mathematics? I know I don't want to work with anything relating to finances (accountant, actuary, ect) and am not a fan of going into academics. One website said I could do research in math but are there jobs for that? I'd love that, but I don't want to get a degree and not be able to find a job.

This is one of the most popular question on MSE, It keeps coming in some form or the other.
  1. http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/71874/can-i-use-my-powers-for-good .
  2. http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/525122/how-to-do-math-and-help-people?noredirect=1&lq=1
  3. http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/238702/careers-in-math?rq=1
  4. http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/289757/how-much-math-do-you-really-do-in-your-job?rq=1
  5. http://math.stackexchange.com/quest...athematician-in-the-society?noredirect=1&lq=1
Anyways don't let mechanics disappoint you, there is a lot of physics that is not mechanics. Even after trying very hard I still can't do even basic mechanics problems without mistakes but I feel pretty comfortable with thermodynamics and physical chemistry.
 
  • #5
<Mentor's note: removed reply on deleted statement>
I also have a BS in mathematics and I will tell something the departments wont:

You won't do proofs outside of a university setting(few exceptions being PhD holders who work in niche industry areas), essentially the specific skills you learn won't be used in anything you will likely get employed in because you're not qualified to get hired in an type of engineering role. You will need to do a MS in a different field to get qualifications for employment.

First of all, did you even bother to read my thread above?

"One option that is available to you (especially if you mix your math courses with courses in probability, statistics, and some programming or computer science courses) would be to work in statistics or data science (especially after completing a masters degree in that field)."

"Another option that is open for you, especially if you enjoy programming, would be to work in software development/IT/tech work. Mathematics often is a natural fit with computer science (much of theoretical CS is pretty much pure math), and many people who double major in such fields often work in the tech sector working in places like Google, Facebook, IBM, etc."

Every advice I indicated above indicates that combining studying math with another related field (like CS or statistics) will lead to becoming more employable, which is what I assume you were trying to suggest. And that doesn't necessarily even mean earning a MS (although that doesn't hurt). So how about you get your facts straight on what I posted.[/QUOTE]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
People pussyfoot around the issue of employment for math majors post degree, the OP needs to be told on no uncertain terms that alone a math degree doesn't provide qualifications for doing anything involving math(which is kind of ironic when you think about it). Of course some outliers exist when it comes to career outcomes but you shouldn't base your university choices on the probability you will be one of them.
 
  • #7
Crek said:
People pussyfoot around the issue of employment for math majors post degree, the OP needs to be told on no uncertain terms that alone a math degree doesn't provide qualifications for doing anything involving math(which is kind of ironic when you think about it). Of course some outliers exist when it comes to career outcomes but you shouldn't base your university choices on the probability you will be one of them.

Depending on what counts as "doing math" here, this statement is patently untrue. I work in the gaming industry and there are many opportunities for people with undergraduate math degrees:
  1. About 1/3 of our business intelligence team hold only a BA/BS in mathematics or statistics. No programming knowledge of experience required for these guys either.
  2. About 1/4 of our data scientists hold only a BA/BS in mathematics or statistics. Programming experience is required here, but the amount of knowledge necessary is still quite low.
  3. Engineering is a huge discipline, so hard to put exact numbers on this one, but a huge number of our engineers were computer science + mathematics double majors. I work on our companies matchmaking algorithms and use quite a bit of math (including proofs).
Granted this is all anecdotal and my experience is isolated to one industry, but the point is that there definitely are mathy jobs for people holding only undergraduate degrees. Does it help to also be a rockstar programmer? Sure, of course it does. But most computer science and engineering departments are not exactly great at teaching that either (honestly most of that skill seems to just come from experience).
 
  • Like
Likes StatGuy2000
  • #8
dsfrankl said:
I've always been very strong in mathematics which led to me becoming an engineering major. As a freshman in this major, I'm doing exceedingly well in my math courses, but terrible in my science courses. I also just hate physics. Nothing about physics or statics or dynamics is capturing my attention. But math? I could do derivatives and integrals and proofs all day long. I'm wondering if I made a mistake in choosing my major. I feel like I would be happier majoring in mathematics. But my real question is, what jobs could I do with a degree in mathematics? I know I don't want to work with anything relating to finances (accountant, actuary, ect) and am not a fan of going into academics. One website said I could do research in math but are there jobs for that? I'd love that, but I don't want to get a degree and not be able to find a job.

Like physics, math is a field that you'll need to run the gambit up to the PhD level if you want people to pay you to do something like proofs all day; oddly enough I like computing pretty integrals and such too but you can find a lot of them in tables or just program a computer to approximate them for you. In the industry there's applied/industrial/computational mathematics but generally speaking those techniques are being applied to physical or economical problems, so you'd be doing something that's not dissimilar to the math you're applying in your physics and engineering mechanics courses anyway except it'd be making computer programs to do the calculations.
 
  • #9
Take what you like and are good in. Then will be happy in your career. If you are good at what you do, jobs will be no problem.
 

Related to Should I be in engineering or mathematics?

1. Should I be in engineering or mathematics?

Choosing between engineering and mathematics can be a difficult decision. Both fields offer unique opportunities and challenges. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal interests and strengths.

2. What is the difference between engineering and mathematics?

Engineering is the application of mathematical and scientific principles to design, build, and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes. Mathematics, on the other hand, is the study of abstract concepts such as numbers, quantity, structure, space, and change.

3. Which field offers better job prospects?

Both engineering and mathematics offer excellent job prospects. However, the demand for engineers is typically higher due to their practical skills and ability to solve complex problems. Mathematics majors often pursue careers in academia, finance, or data analysis.

4. Which field is more challenging?

Both engineering and mathematics require a strong foundation in math and critical thinking skills. However, engineering may be more physically and mentally demanding due to the hands-on nature of the work. Mathematics can also be challenging, but it may be more abstract and theoretical.

5. Can I switch from engineering to mathematics or vice versa?

It is possible to switch between engineering and mathematics, but it may require additional coursework or training. It is important to carefully consider your interests and goals before making a switch, as both fields require a different set of skills and knowledge.

Similar threads

  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
15
Views
422
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
21
Views
1K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
8
Views
2K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
30
Views
6K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
6
Views
6K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
10
Views
3K
Back
Top