Engineering vs Business Major Which to Choose?

By Henry R. Steele - August 10, 2018
Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you are thinking about getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it is important to know as early as possible the major that you want. The sooner you decide, the better because you can get through school faster and spend less on tuition and other college expenses.

Some students are interested in both engineering and business. Which should you choose? These are very different majors and you may want to go one direction or other depending upon your interests.

Below is an overview of both majors so that you can make an informed decision.

Why Choose An Engineering Degree

#1 Many Technical Career Opportunities

There are many different career paths for engineers, as they are so many engineering specialities. Some of the most common types of engineering are:

  • Aerospace: Design, analyze, model, simulate and test different types of aircraft and spacecraft such as missiles, rockets and satellites.
  • Bioengineering and biochemical: Study living systems and apply knowledge to solve problems with food supplies. Bioengineering also is used to get rid of waste and clean polluted soil and water.
  • Chemical: Discover and manufacture better paints, fuels, plastics, fibers, medicines and fertilizers.
  • Civil: Oversee construction of infrastructure and buildings that comprise our world: railways, roads, bridges, highways and skyscrapers.
  • Computer and software: Design, construction, implementation and maintenance of computers and software to benefit mankind.
  • Electrical: Develop the electrical components for all types of electrical devices from portable handheld devices to power grids that light up entire cities.
  • Environmental: Engineers find the best ways to clean up oceans, rivers, drinking water and the air. Also may work on improving recycling systems.
  • Industrial and manufacturing: Determine best ways to use machines, people, information and energy to make a product or provide services.
  • Mechanical: Engineers in this specialty develop all types of machines and systems that involve mechanical processes, such as bike locks, aircraft carriers, children’s toys, cars, wheelchairs and sailboats.
  • Mining: Study every phase of how to extract mineral deposits from the earth. Design mines and the equipment used to mine for materials.
  • Nuclear: These engineers harness the power of atoms to help human beings. They look for ways to capture energy from atoms and use them and apply them to issues in consumer and industrial power, water supply, space exploration and food supply.

#2 Benefit Society

Engineers have many chances to work on various engineering projects in many specialties that help society. You can work on cleaning up the environment, develop prosthetic limbs for those who are disabled, devise clean and efficient transportation systems, find new energy sources, reduce hunger problems, and enhance the standard of living in countries that are underdeveloped.

Some engineering programs, such as George Fox University, have what are called servant engineering programs. This is an opportunity for engineering students to create new devices that can be used by people who need them. Some of the devices made by past students to help people have included a portable currency reader for the blind, and a vibration therapy device that can boost bone density in people who have osteoporosis.

#3 Challenging Work

There are endless challenging problems in all fields of engineering. There is no one answer and no answer that you find in the back of the book. Engineers need to be able to devise a solution to many complex engineering problems using mathematics and analysis and be able to convince your team and managers that yours is the best.

#4 Intellectual Development

Whether you choose electrical, computer, mechanical or another form of engineering in your major, you will experience great intellectual development. An engineering education will always exercise your brain and will boost your ability to think logically and solve complex problems. These are skills that are essential not only for solving engineering problems but will be valuable all through your life.

#5 Creative Thinking

Engineering is a creative profession by its very definition. We live in a time of fast technological changes, so the need for engineers to think in a creative way is more important than ever. If you are a person who likes to question, invent, explore, discover and create products and systems, engineering could be the perfect choice for your major.

#6 Scientific Discovery

Have you ever thought about why golf balls have dimples, or why a split level home gets more damage during an earthquake? Getting an education in engineering can assist you in answering these questions, and also will encourage you to ask many new questions of your own.

#7 Financial Security

Generally, the architecture and engineering occupations will grow by 7% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations. It is expected there will be 195,000 new jobs in these areas in that time. The majority of the estimated job growth will be for engineers; their services will be needed in renewable energy, rebuilding infrastructure, robotics and oil and gas extraction.

The median annual salary for all engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $79,100. This is much higher than the median salary for all American workers at $37,600.

#8 Prestige and Professionalism

Engineers have vital roles in our society, from sustaining the competitiveness of the country to maintaining a high standard of living for Americans. Engineers are highly regarded and receive much prestige for their work. They also work in professional environments where they are treated with respect.

Why Choose a Business Degree

#1 Many Job Opportunities in Many Fields

There are usually millions of job openings for business majors. They are increasing as the US economy gets stronger. BLS reports all business and financial occupations will grow by a strong 10% through 2026, which is faster than average. There will be approximately 773,000 new business and finance jobs in that time. Globalization, a booming economy and a more complicated tax and regulatory environment will drive demand for many business professions. Also, more use of data and market research to understand customers and product demand will lead to more demand for business professionals in marketing and communications.

11 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Study Business

#2 Earn an MBA Degree

Majoring in business is advantageous because you can eventually earn your MBA. It has been demonstrated for decades that earning your MBA will result usually in a higher salary and more responsibility.

See the Editors’ Choice Online MBA Programs for 2019

For example, these common business professions will pay you considerably more if you earn your MBA compared to only a bachelor’s degree:

  • Financial service sales agents: $90,000 vs. $170,000
  • Financial managers: $78,000 vs. $110,000
  • Market research analysts: $65,000 vs. $90,000
  • Marketing and sales managers: $80,000 vs. $110,000
  • Property, real estate and community association managers: $56,000 vs. $76,000
  • Logisticians: $54,000 vs. $82,000

See Best Online MBA Degrees with No GMAT/Waiver Option.

If you decide to earn your MBA, you will be able to choose from many specialties that can enhance your resume if you want to work in a specific business area. Or, you can choose a general MBA which will give you a strong foundation in many business areas. Common MBA concentrations include:

  • Healthcare
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Supply chain management
  • Information technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations management
  • Strategy
  • International management
  • Leadership
  • HR management

#3 Many Business Specialties and Careers

With a business management degree, you will learn skills that you can apply to many business careers and industries. Business skills are highly versatile; you will be hard pressed to think of a company in any industry that does not need professionals with strong business skills.

Here are some of the top job titles for professionals with a business degree:

  • Business analyst: Commonly referred to as a management analyst. They find ways to make an organization better through research study and the implementation of business and process improvements. Provide advice to managers about how the company can increase its efficiency and be more profitable and increase revenues. This is one of the best positions in business if you like to solve complex business problems. Also is a good fit for a person who wants to work as a business project manager for different clients in a consulting company. Find 8+ Online Business Analyst Degrees.
  • Financial analyst: Provide guidance to businesses and people who need to make important business decisions. They handle the assessment and performance of stocks, bonds and related investments in the markets. Financial analysts are specialized to maximize the performance of a company, but the focus is on money and finance, and not on business processes. Find 5+ Online Financial Management Degrees.
  • Office manager: Also may be called administrative service managers. They supervise employees, maintain the operation, direct office activity and keep accurate records. Responsible for setting office goals; recommending changes to enhance business operations; planning company budgets and keeping the building safe. Find 5+ Online Operations Management Degrees.
  • Marketing manager: Provide estimates for products and services that the company and its competitors offer. They also determine possible markets for the products of the company. The marketing manager will work regularly with workers in sales, PR and product development to make sure the company is offering products that will meet customer demands and needs. See 4+ Online Marketing Management Degrees.
  • Sales manager: In charge of the sales and marketing teams in a company. Sales managers commonly set sales goals, analyze business data and train employees in new products and services. Also will spend a lot of time working on customer complaints, preparing sales budgets and finding new customers.

#4 Obtain Transferable Business Skills

Being a business major will give you many skills that can be used in a variety of business jobs. A business degree will provide you with more flexibility in your choice of work than say, an engineering degree. According to Rasmussen.com, an analysis of many business-related job postings showed the following business skills that are sought after by employers. These are skills that you can learn in business school and will serve you well in many different occupations in business:

  • Microsoft Excel and Office
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Project management
  • Business administration
  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Accounting

On a related note, earning a bachelor’s in business or an MBA will give you very strong managerial skills that are essential to advancing in any industry. Some of the managerial skills that you will learn with a business degree:

  • How to lead teams and manage projects, including ways to manage conflicts between teams from different departments – engineering, marketing, operations, sales.
  • How to keep the finances of the company healthy and to stay within budget on projects
  • How to gather and interpret industry data
  • How to hire the proper people, put them into the right jobs and keep them motivated
  • How to create systems and hierarchies that will make the company stronger
  • How to improve the image of the company and maintain it

#5 Strong Earning Potential

With a masters or bachelor’s degree program, you will be able to earn a good salary. Below are the median salaries for some of the common business and finance roles in America today:

  • Business analyst: $81,300
  • Financial analyst: $81,700
  • Marketing manager: $127,000
  • Office manager: $90,000
  • Sales manager: $117,000

Payscale.com also reports the following good salaries for workers with a bachelor’s degree in business:

  • Office manager: $46,400
  • HR manager: $63,400
  • HR director: $73,300
  • Operations manager: $60,600
  • Executive assistant: $51,300
  • Financial controller: $64,300
  • Administrative assistant: $35,600

If you get your MBA, these are common salaries, according to Payscale.com:

  • Senior financial analyst: $81,300
  • Marketing manager: $73,400
  • Financial analyst: $62,400
  • CFO: $144,600
  • Marketing director: $113,000
  • Operations manager: $72,000
  • HR manager: $71,000

A business major and an engineering major are clearly very different. Hopefully, after reviewing the benefits of each, you will have gained a better idea about which is a better career fit for you.

References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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