Which College degrees are worthwhile?

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KlangFool
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
Normchad
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Normchad »

KlangFool wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:35 am OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
Terrific perspective. Agree 100%.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by abuss368 »

Accounting and Finance. Numbers are needed in all types of economies.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by friar1610 »

wander wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:52 am College dropouts are worthwhile, there are many of them now billionaires.

Chemical engineering graduates get paid higher than other engineering majors.
What is your definition of "many"?
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TechGuy365
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechGuy365 »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:53 am Employment in computer science has and continues to skyrocket. Common objections are:
  • It's concentrated in a small number of HCOL areas
  • It's vulnerable to offshoring
  • You need to work 60-80 hour weeks to be successful
  • The number of six-figure jobs in CS are small
  • You have to attend an elite school to have a chance
IME, none of those are true. The big tech companies don't use much (if any) offshoring and work-life balance can be good, but is very dependent on your specific team. Remote work and satellite offices offer ample opportunity in MCOL areas like Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Austin.

My napkin-math comes to a couple hundred thousand jobs at companies with Silicon Valley-level compensation.

Demand for new grad software engineers continues, even during this recession. My employer hasn't cut back our new grad hiring program at all. We also hire from a far larger list of schools than many expect, including lots and lots of state schools. You don't have to attend Stanford or CMU to have a chance. Most of my coworkers attended CU Boulder or Colorado School of Mines.

What is true about this field:
  • Those who enter CS just for the money usually burn out quickly. This is a mentally demanding field
  • Getting hired can involve a lot of dumb luck, especially at the entry level
  • There is intense stratification in compensation. Software engineers are non-tech companies see their comp cap out fast while comp at tech companies quickly rises into the mid six figures
I agree with all of your points - the common myths you listed are simply not true. The jobs are surely not all in HCOL areas, and the jobs that are vulnerable to offshoring are not the ones one wants to do long-term anyway. Work life balance can be excellent, and job stability is good if we're willing to better ourselves constantly.

This is, however, not the right career for everybody. Don't go in to CS just for the money or job stability. You should go in with the mindset that you're excited by technology, use technology for good (either for businesses or humanity), and you're willing to reinvent yourself every few years to stay on top of the field.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Random Poster »

I don’t know if it would lead to employment, but I think that a dual degree in Food Science and Economics (or Accounting) could be interesting and provide a lot of options.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by palaheel »

Regarding software development, during your first couple of CS courses, you should develop a moth-to-flame relationship with the discipline. If that doesn't happen, probably software development isn't for you. It is a very consuming activity. Nobody does it because it's easy; it isn't. But some of us find it fun.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by imak »

A data-driven approach to finding the answer to this question is to look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook published yearly by Bureau of Labor Statistics.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm

Unsurprisingly, currently computer science and physician assistants are projected to be fastest growing occupations (within six figure salaries).
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TechGuy365
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechGuy365 »

KlangFool wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:35 am OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
While I agree with your conclusions (think, learn, communicate), I don't necessarily agree that there are no "career" that would last 20-30 years. There is a distinction for career vs jobs. It's difficult (nor desirable) to hold the same job for 20 years, but most careers (healthcare, IT, business, engineering, many others) can and should last a lifetime. One may change jobs often, but hopefully he/she will never have to change career.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

I think it's mistake to focus on only the first job or to chase trends, but maybe I just knew a lot of out of work IT guys in 2000. Be tops at what you do and do whatever you want. If you're in the middle of the pack, do what you can to make sure you have both hard and soft skills when you leave college, whatever it says on your diploma (e.g. major in underwater basket weaving and minor in data science, major in engineering and minor in philosophy, etc ). Odds are pretty good your career is going to move around even if you're in engineering so learn to think, too.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by bikechuck »

I always encouraged my daughters to follow their hearts rather than their heads in choosing a field of study. My older daughter is an eighth grade science teacher with a master's in education. My younger daughter has a PhD in the humanities and is a curator for the Smithsonian. I think that if young people work hard and follow their passions things work out.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

TechGuy365 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:58 am This is, however, not the right career for everybody. Don't go in to CS just for the money or job stability. You should go in with the mindset that you're excited by technology, use technology for good (either for businesses or humanity), and you're willing to reinvent yourself every few years to stay on top of the field.
Rant: Although not specific to CS, we do a tremendous disservice to young people when we tell them to go into whatever jobs they love, find exciting, or are their passion. Work isn't supposed to be fun. That's what your vacation days are for. Most jobs suck and that's okay. In priority order, income should be the most important factor in choosing a career. Choose a career based first and foremost on your earning potential. Second, find a job which provides a reasonable work-life balance, so you have time to sleep, see your family, and pursue the hobbies you enjoy outside of work. Third, look for careers where jobs are available in the geographic locations where you might want to live. Then, in some very distant fourth place, you might consider whether you find the job exciting.
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TechGuy365
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechGuy365 »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:38 pm
TechGuy365 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:58 am This is, however, not the right career for everybody. Don't go in to CS just for the money or job stability. You should go in with the mindset that you're excited by technology, use technology for good (either for businesses or humanity), and you're willing to reinvent yourself every few years to stay on top of the field.
Rant: Although not specific to CS, we do a tremendous disservice to young people when we tell them to go into whatever jobs they love, find exciting, or are their passion. Work isn't supposed to be fun. That's what your vacation days are for. Most jobs suck and that's okay. In priority order, income should be the most important factor in choosing a career. Choose a career based first and foremost on your earning potential. Second, find a job which provides a reasonable work-life balance, so you have time to sleep, see your family, and pursue the hobbies you enjoy outside of work. Third, look for careers where jobs are available in the geographic locations where you might want to live. Then, in some very distant fourth place, you might consider whether you find the job exciting.
Hi oldfort, I agree with you wholeheartedly on your point. I am a proponent of gainful career and employment - just ask my kids :happy.

In my message I wasn't necessarily telling the OP to major in useless degrees. I was coaching him, as a career-long technology professional and a hiring manager, to approach a career in technology not just because of money because you'll be miserable. If you don't have talent or don't love tech, you'll also be miserable. You have to go in with a learning mindset and always grow.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
I think you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking: "What degrees/type of employment is suited and worthwhile to me?"

I have witnessed people (who graduated 5 or 6 years ago) broker their "worthless" degrees (and employment experience) into true "career paths" in accounting, back office management, HR, communications, and education. Just like everyone else - they will have to continue their education (or certifications or whatever). Education isn't a one and done anymore.

I would NOT recommend choosing a degree or a career path based solely on how employable or how much money you could earn.

Back in the mid 80's while I was working in my Jr. College's "data center" helping other students with "programming" questions while keeping all the mainframe workstations, card punch/card reader machines, printers, and TRS-80's functioning - I saw quite a few people who's brains were NOT wired for "programming" convinced that a "programming" degree was their ticket to a high paying job. These were people who had trouble getting the Trash 80 to do anything other than correctly producing a "Hello World". These were the people who had 200 card decks to produce a simple "Inventory report" from a single Table with 5 items. hint: the report could be done with 10 lines of code (10 cards). Quite a few of those people managed to not get weeded out and graduated with the "IT" degree. To this day I cringe when I think about having them in the work place. I know they got hired. I've worked with/fixed/re-written plenty of crappy barely working code in my life time. I am by no means a "coding genius" but atleast I've always been a competent programmer.

I would think a more 'satisfying' work life is to feel one is competent at work or being part of the team or at least NOT being the road block/problem at work.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by hicabob »

I was a CS major and it has been financially great for me and I usually enjoyed the work. I worked with many scientists and engineers over my career and one discipline I envied was mechanical engineering. The subject is interesting and, unlike aspects of software, the knowledge is extremely cumulative and not subject to obsolescence. A 50 yo mechanical design engineer is so much better than a recent grad due to experience so age discrimination tends not to be a factor. This older, highly skilled German ME I was friendly with was developing a gripper for a robotic arm we were building and I was complimenting one of his clever designs. He pulled out a very old notebook and showed me the same mechanism on a German Artillery piece he had designed decades ago.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by finite_difference »

alex123711 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:05 am
Normchad wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm I wouldn't come at it from that direction, but.....

Currently, there is an insatiable appetite for Computer Science/Computer engineering degrees, and the new grad salaries are skyrocketing.
The problem for me with computer science is there don't seem to be any professional accreditation, e.g an accountant can became a CA/CFA, lawyers and engineers get registration which are sought after and not easily attainable, where computer science doesn't have this differentiator, which leads your skills becoming quickly redundant as you get older (if you don't keep up) whereas an older accountant with a CFA would be still be sought after for their knowledge.
As an accountant or quant, yes you need to undergo training to keep up your CPA/CFA.

So there’s a formalized requirement for those professions, but in any field you’ll want to keep up your skills. As long as you keep your skills sharp, I wouldn’t worry about the need for a formal certification. Chances are that if you are keeping your skills sharp, you are self-certifying yourself based on the metric that matters to your profession. For example, publishing papers, writing books, releasing or contributing code, etc.

I would recommend a STEM-based degree in the field of your choice. Machine learning and microbiology seem like hot fields right now.
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KlangFool
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

TechGuy365 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:19 pm
but most careers (healthcare, IT, business, engineering, many others) can and should last a lifetime. One may change jobs often, but hopefully he/she will never have to change career.
TechGuy365,

My mother told me that even if the gold fell from the sky, you still have to run faster than others to catch it. Even if the career can last a long time, it does not mean OP can survive in that career for a long time.

Life is full of competition. If you want a good job and/or career, you would have to compete and keep it. That usually means the following:

A) You have some aptitude for it.

B) At some level, you like the job and won't mind spending the extra effort to be good at it.

C) The job pays well enough to keep you sheltered and fed.

It is a combination of all those 3 factors.

KlangFool
Normchad
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Normchad »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:38 pm
TechGuy365 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:58 am This is, however, not the right career for everybody. Don't go in to CS just for the money or job stability. You should go in with the mindset that you're excited by technology, use technology for good (either for businesses or humanity), and you're willing to reinvent yourself every few years to stay on top of the field.
Rant: Although not specific to CS, we do a tremendous disservice to young people when we tell them to go into whatever jobs they love, find exciting, or are their passion. Work isn't supposed to be fun. That's what your vacation days are for. Most jobs suck and that's okay. In priority order, income should be the most important factor in choosing a career. Choose a career based first and foremost on your earning potential. Second, find a job which provides a reasonable work-life balance, so you have time to sleep, see your family, and pursue the hobbies you enjoy outside of work. Third, look for careers where jobs are available in the geographic locations where you might want to live. Then, in some very distant fourth place, you might consider whether you find the job exciting.
Mike Rowe gave a Ted Talk about “following your passion”, and I highly recommend it, especially to young people. https://mikerowe.com/2019/12/dont-follow-your-passion/

I hire new college grads all the time, exclusively CS/CE/EE. I can’t hire enough of them. However, that does not mean that I hire all of them. Nor does it mean it’s a good path for everybody. OldFort is correct that we do young people a disservice. It is 100% possible to get a CS degree, learn nothing, and not find employment. The worst example I personally saw was a CS grad from UIUC. Worst interview I ever had. Could not answer any sophomore level technical questions. Nor could they discuss class projects in any meaningful detail. And it shook me, because I know how good UIUC is.

Girls who love dressing up shouldn’t necessarily get fashion design degrees. Boys who love playing video games shouldn’t necessarily get a degree in game design. And people shouldn’t pursue law, medicine, business, or comp sci just because it is potentially lucrative. You can’t be a successful doctor just because you really want it. It’s true for art, music, writing, and compare science as well. Aptitude, ability, interest, and effort matter.

Klangfools advice is great. Adulthood lasts a long long time. And the world will look a lot different 50 years from now than it does today. Learn how to think. Learn how to reason. Learn how to be successful. And also get a good education.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by BalancedJCB19 »

Here is my 2 cents for what it is worth.

I would try to find something that excites you instead of solely looking at the money end of it.

Now, I don't mean the arts, or something that has no value in the marketplace unless you are the one in a million that makes it, those are good hobbies or to do if you have a solid backup plan. You still have to be smart about it.

After you find something that gets your heart pumping, go do some research on what is involved and if it is indeed a marketable degree/skill and you will be able to support yourself and/or a family if you have one, but the goal should be something that makes you happy and not how high of a salary you can make.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by bondsr4me »

Accounting/Business.....
oldfort
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

TechGuy365 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:04 pm Hi oldfort, I agree with you wholeheartedly on your point. I am a proponent of gainful career and employment - just ask my kids :happy.

In my message I wasn't necessarily telling the OP to major in useless degrees. I was coaching him, as a career-long technology professional and a hiring manager, to approach a career in technology not just because of money because you'll be miserable. If you don't have talent or don't love tech, you'll also be miserable. You have to go in with a learning mindset and always grow.
I agree talent and life long learning matters. I'm less convinced anyone needs to love their career. Plenty of CPAs are skilled at their jobs and are well compensated in their careers without being in love with corporate tax law. Likewise, I think you can have a successful career in tech without being in love with Python.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

raamakoti wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:03 am Chemical engineering with Instrumentation design as speciality is very rare skill to have. If you can master these two and gain around 5 years of experience you will be able to write your own ticket. Thats what my mentor told me. Beyond any particular skill watch this and understand clear difference between System vs Goal. Be a life long student in any area you choose. Enjoy learning
https://youtu.be/oJVxkr9eE9A
I question how "hot" chemical engineering will remain. I admit it was a good choice decades ago, but I don't see a rapidly growing future for this industry in the coming decades. May not be the best choice for a young person.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:16 am Here are some benefits to a health care career.

1) COVID-19 shutdowns aside, medicine is recession proof.
2) Not up or out. A lot of high paying careers in finance, management consulting, or big law are notorious for aggressively weeding people out early in the career. The compensation can be astronomical for the partners, but how many new hires get the brass ring?
3) With an aging population, demand will continue to grow for medical services.
4) Compared to tech, less age discrimination, real or perceived.
Here's the downsides
- Ridiculously long training times and extremely large tuition loans
- I'm 50/50 on the aging population story as tech will render healthcare obsolete eventually. With tech advances we will replace many of the low level intellectual aspects such as reading CAT scans, radiological charts, X-rays, etc. (the tech is here btw). Next step is replacing the higher-level intellectual diagnosing aspects, which really can be reduced to an immense flowchart (think about all doctors are is an interactive flowchart of symptoms -> diagnosis). A machine with all the information will do a better job than humans can, because no one human can know all of the medical knowledge. The only thing we are still behind in replacing is the person through robotics. Robotics unfortunately has lagged behind software development.
- I also argue that a medical profession is higher risk. If you go big tech, big law, big consulting, big finance, you are literally earning 90th percentile salary from the get go. *And* compounding works in your favor. If you go medical, you lose a ton of opportunity cost, compounding works against you, and you have increased 'time-horizon' risk which I define as the inability to accurately predict the future the further out you go. Money today is worth more than money in the future. Just imagine how you would feel if your kid goes through 10 years of schooling, only to find out that tech has replaced half of medical jobs and now the career is not as lucrative as what it once was. You've lost a decade of opportunity cost, and the older you are, the harder it will be to pivot to a totally different thing.
Last edited by TechFI on Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:53 am Employment in computer science has and continues to skyrocket. Common objections are:
  • It's concentrated in a small number of HCOL areas
  • It's vulnerable to offshoring
  • You need to work 60-80 hour weeks to be successful
  • The number of six-figure jobs in CS are small
  • You have to attend an elite school to have a chance
IME, none of those are true. The big tech companies don't use much (if any) offshoring and work-life balance can be good, but is very dependent on your specific team. Remote work and satellite offices offer ample opportunity in MCOL areas like Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Austin.

My napkin-math comes to a couple hundred thousand jobs at companies with Silicon Valley-level compensation.

Demand for new grad software engineers continues, even during this recession. My employer hasn't cut back our new grad hiring program at all. We also hire from a far larger list of schools than many expect, including lots and lots of state schools. You don't have to attend Stanford or CMU to have a chance. Most of my coworkers attended CU Boulder or Colorado School of Mines.

What is true about this field:
  • Those who enter CS just for the money usually burn out quickly. This is a mentally demanding field
  • Getting hired can involve a lot of dumb luck, especially at the entry level
  • There is intense stratification in compensation. Software engineers are non-tech companies see their comp cap out fast while comp at tech companies quickly rises into the mid six figures
I'll add more perspectives and some difference in opinion:
- It's concentrated in HCOL. This is overall a good thing because salaries in tech scale more than COL. Also since there is a concentration of tech companies, so you can switch employers without ever moving again, and it also makes it easier to career hop.
- I'd refute MCOL being a good option as those are satellite offices and your career will suffer. It's worth it to move there to "rest and vest" as we like to describe it, but early career be in HQ where the action is at.
- It's still vulnerable to offshoring. Just because it hasn't been done successfully doesn't mean it won't be attempted again. This COVID-19 situation threatens to change the way work is done, and I fear it will lead to more outsourcing/offshoring.
- It depends on the company. Netflix/Facebook/Amazon have long hours like 60+hrs/wk others like Google/Microsoft have your regular 40hrs/wk. Even in the worst case, it pales to comparison with big consulting (80hrs/wk) or big finance(80+hrs/wk).
- This is mostly true if you're talking about big tech that pays significantly more than fly-by-night "tech" startups. If six figures is $100k, then I would say yeah pretty much even fly-by-night "tech" pays that, but to get $200k at the entry-level you need to go to big tech or their close competitors.
- This is also quite true as with everything else in life. Positioning yourself in a target school where big tech hires from is beneficial, ditto for big law, big consulting and big finance. I still would not discount the school prestige factor it gives you a huge leg up, otherwise you may have to do a series of hops before getting into big tech.
- What you want and need is to set yourself up on this path of 'self-fulling prophecy'. For example, if I see a resume of this person who worked for Amazon, Facebook and Google, I give him the benefit of doubt. If I see a resume of this person in some no-name startup, I think he's a lousy engineer. I'll fly the FAANG person down for a on-site interview, and I will toss the startup person resume into the trash. The truth is maybe the FAANG person is lousy, but most people will give benefit of doubt and the startup person will need to fight to get his chance to "prove his worth". Prestige open doors, and leads to more prestige that open more doors. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, so give your kid the best start he/she can have. I'm pretty sure the same applies to other careers as well... big law, big consulting, big finance, etc.
- I also agree that compensation for big-tech is ridiculously good. As a senior (5 years out of school) you can get anywhere from $200-400k in big tech. That's the range for Director-level positions in most non-tech Fortune 500. Most long-time big tech employees will hit a glass ceiling of $300-500k though, which admittedly this ceiling is lower than say big finance and big consulting.
Last edited by TechFI on Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
TechFI
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

KlangFool wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:35 am OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
Is the race analogy appropriate though? It's not.

I would say life is like playing a game, and you just need to collect a sufficient score and then you win.

There's 2 ways to win, both equally valid:
- Treat it like a marathon, and collect your score slowly and steadily. You win at the end.
- Treat it like a sprint and collect as much score as you so that you can win early.

Considering you said that no career will last a lifetime now, I'd advocate that the second approach is the safer one.
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patrick013
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by patrick013 »

Why not teaching. Most are making reasonable salaries and good
job prospects. General education studies req'd and master's degree
not req'd unless teaching at the college level. But there's always
night school to do that.
age in bonds, buy-and-hold, 10 year business cycle
stoptothink
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by stoptothink »

patrick013 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:15 pm Why not teaching. Most are making reasonable salaries and good
job prospects. General education studies req'd and master's degree
not req'd unless teaching at the college level. But there's always
night school to do that.
Absolutely underpaid in some areas of the country, but everywhere I have lived they earn a pretty decent living straight out of school and the automatic bump in pay for graduate education is nice. My stepfather admits he is one of the least motivated and laziest people out there, but he has a gift for getting across to teens. Really struggled up through his mid-30's in corporate jobs where he never made it past entry level. Got his teaching credential on a whim and he's now made a pretty good living as a public high school teacher for 20+ years. It isn't for a lot of people (certainly not me), but my stepdad would be the first to tell you it is a great career for people "like him".
srt7
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by srt7 »

KlangFool wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:35 am OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
Nailed it! Especially the meta-skills part of it.
I can't think of anything more luxurious than owning my time. - remomnyc
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
All of them - the degree itself doesn’t lead to employment except if it is a degree in which there is a specific skill taught - computer science, engineering, accounting, mathematics, etc. That said, what brings employment is the individual’s work ethic, ingenuity and people skills. You can have a degree but if you don’t perform you are out. You can have a degree but if you don’t bring value to your employer you aren’t going far. You can have a degree but if your people skills and communication is poor you aren’t likely to land the job and if you do land it, moving up will be nearly impossible if you aren’t liked.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

srt7 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:35 pm
KlangFool wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:35 am OP,

Life is a marathon race. So, please do not prepare for it like a 100-meter dash.

A) In general, there is no career/job that would last 20 to 30 years.

B) You may change jobs, careers, industry, countries over the course of your whole working life.

C) So, another way to look at this is

1) Which degree would prepare me the best for the marathon race?

2) What degree would provide me with the best foundation that I cannot achieve with on-the-job training?

The bottom line actually comes down to this. There are only 3 meta-skills essential to be successful.

A) Ability to THINK

B) Ability to LEARN

C) Ability to COMMUNICATE

KlangFool
Nailed it! Especially the meta-skills part of it.
+2. I saw this AFTER i had posted. My thoughts exactly. My last job went 19 years. So he’s right, no 20 year career except maybe in civil service.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
oldfort
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:12 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:16 am Here are some benefits to a health care career.

1) COVID-19 shutdowns aside, medicine is recession proof.
2) Not up or out. A lot of high paying careers in finance, management consulting, or big law are notorious for aggressively weeding people out early in the career. The compensation can be astronomical for the partners, but how many new hires get the brass ring?
3) With an aging population, demand will continue to grow for medical services.
4) Compared to tech, less age discrimination, real or perceived.
Here's the downsides
- Ridiculously long training times and extremely large tuition loans
- I'm 50/50 on the aging population story as tech will render healthcare obsolete eventually. With tech advances we will replace many of the low level intellectual aspects such as reading CAT scans, radiological charts, X-rays, etc. (the tech is here btw). Next step is replacing the higher-level intellectual diagnosing aspects, which really can be reduced to an immense flowchart (think about all doctors are is an interactive flowchart of symptoms -> diagnosis). A machine with all the information will do a better job than humans can, because no one human can know all of the medical knowledge. The only thing we are still behind in replacing is the person through robotics. Robotics unfortunately has lagged behind software development.
- I also argue that a medical profession is higher risk. If you go big tech, big law, big consulting, big finance, you are literally earning 90th percentile salary from the get go. *And* compounding works in your favor. If you go medical, you lose a ton of opportunity cost, compounding works against you, and you have increased 'time-horizon' risk which I define as the inability to accurately predict the future the further out you go. Money today is worth more than money in the future. Just imagine how you would feel if your kid goes through 10 years of schooling, only to find out that tech has replaced half of medical jobs and now the career is not as lucrative as what it once was. You've lost a decade of opportunity cost, and the older you are, the harder it will be to pivot to a totally different thing.
I am a lot more skeptical than you are about AI replacing all the jobs. Unless we get to some Star Trek like future with robotic surgeons, there will always be a need for doctors who perform procedures. Law has its own opportunity cost and loan problems. You spend three years in law school. If you do a judicial clerkship, you spend your first year out of law school earning $50-60k. Depending on exactly which programs you compare, law school tuition can be as much as med school tuition. At the top laws firms, the percent making equity partner is what: 2%? So the 98% who don't make partner may have a lower income at 40 than 30.
Last edited by oldfort on Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
stoptothink
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by stoptothink »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:42 pm
TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:12 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:16 am Here are some benefits to a health care career.

1) COVID-19 shutdowns aside, medicine is recession proof.
2) Not up or out. A lot of high paying careers in finance, management consulting, or big law are notorious for aggressively weeding people out early in the career. The compensation can be astronomical for the partners, but how many new hires get the brass ring?
3) With an aging population, demand will continue to grow for medical services.
4) Compared to tech, less age discrimination, real or perceived.
Here's the downsides
- Ridiculously long training times and extremely large tuition loans
- I'm 50/50 on the aging population story as tech will render healthcare obsolete eventually. With tech advances we will replace many of the low level intellectual aspects such as reading CAT scans, radiological charts, X-rays, etc. (the tech is here btw). Next step is replacing the higher-level intellectual diagnosing aspects, which really can be reduced to an immense flowchart (think about all doctors are is an interactive flowchart of symptoms -> diagnosis). A machine with all the information will do a better job than humans can, because no one human can know all of the medical knowledge. The only thing we are still behind in replacing is the person through robotics. Robotics unfortunately has lagged behind software development.
- I also argue that a medical profession is higher risk. If you go big tech, big law, big consulting, big finance, you are literally earning 90th percentile salary from the get go. *And* compounding works in your favor. If you go medical, you lose a ton of opportunity cost, compounding works against you, and you have increased 'time-horizon' risk which I define as the inability to accurately predict the future the further out you go. Money today is worth more than money in the future. Just imagine how you would feel if your kid goes through 10 years of schooling, only to find out that tech has replaced half of medical jobs and now the career is not as lucrative as what it once was. You've lost a decade of opportunity cost, and the older you are, the harder it will be to pivot to a totally different thing.
Law has its own opportunity cost and loan problems. You spend three years in law school. If you do a judicial clerkship, you spend your first year out of law school earning $50-60k. Depending on exactly which programs you compare, law school tuition can be as much as med school tuition.
From a purely financial standpoint, law is easily a bigger gamble than medical school (at least currently).
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

stoptothink wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:45 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:42 pm
TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:12 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:16 am Here are some benefits to a health care career.

1) COVID-19 shutdowns aside, medicine is recession proof.
2) Not up or out. A lot of high paying careers in finance, management consulting, or big law are notorious for aggressively weeding people out early in the career. The compensation can be astronomical for the partners, but how many new hires get the brass ring?
3) With an aging population, demand will continue to grow for medical services.
4) Compared to tech, less age discrimination, real or perceived.
Here's the downsides
- Ridiculously long training times and extremely large tuition loans
- I'm 50/50 on the aging population story as tech will render healthcare obsolete eventually. With tech advances we will replace many of the low level intellectual aspects such as reading CAT scans, radiological charts, X-rays, etc. (the tech is here btw). Next step is replacing the higher-level intellectual diagnosing aspects, which really can be reduced to an immense flowchart (think about all doctors are is an interactive flowchart of symptoms -> diagnosis). A machine with all the information will do a better job than humans can, because no one human can know all of the medical knowledge. The only thing we are still behind in replacing is the person through robotics. Robotics unfortunately has lagged behind software development.
- I also argue that a medical profession is higher risk. If you go big tech, big law, big consulting, big finance, you are literally earning 90th percentile salary from the get go. *And* compounding works in your favor. If you go medical, you lose a ton of opportunity cost, compounding works against you, and you have increased 'time-horizon' risk which I define as the inability to accurately predict the future the further out you go. Money today is worth more than money in the future. Just imagine how you would feel if your kid goes through 10 years of schooling, only to find out that tech has replaced half of medical jobs and now the career is not as lucrative as what it once was. You've lost a decade of opportunity cost, and the older you are, the harder it will be to pivot to a totally different thing.
Law has its own opportunity cost and loan problems. You spend three years in law school. If you do a judicial clerkship, you spend your first year out of law school earning $50-60k. Depending on exactly which programs you compare, law school tuition can be as much as med school tuition.
From a purely financial standpoint, law is easily a bigger gamble than medical school (at least currently).
There are too many law degrees being minted. The pressure is on to reduce wages in all sectors of the economy. Healthcare is getting squeezed, financial services is getting squeezed, law field squeezed and technology will not be that far away - a lot of tech jobs are being outsourced to India and elsewhere. Competition is global.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
quantAndHold
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by quantAndHold »

It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a four year degree in something.

Studies continue to show that people with four year degrees, in any major, have better paying, more stable careers over the course of their lives, than people who don’t have four year degrees.

If you want a quick, high paying job immediately after graduation, then CS, engineering, something like that. But I read something (that I’ll never be able to find again) where they were comparing salaries five years after college graduation, and found that people with liberal arts degrees were, on average, earning more than people with business and engineering degrees. The bottom line was that a liberal arts degree didn’t lead in a straight line to a job, but it taught communication and critical thinking skills that are valuable in any number of career paths.

KlangFool nailed it. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be working for a lot of years. Choosing a degree because it will get the best paying job at age 23 may not lead to the best lifetime career pay or satisfaction. There’s a thread here on Bogleheads, where people describe how they got into their careers, that is really enlightening. A lot of people take really winding paths through life, and at age 18 or 22 or 25, couldn’t really have predicted where they would end up at age 50. I know I couldn’t have. I’ve been a musician, an artist, a software developer, and a professional athlete. One of my family members is an executive in the insurance industry. He has a degree in music, and insurance was his fourth career. I know a large company CEO with a BA in geography. One of my high school friends got a BA in dance, performed on Broadway for ten years, then went to Harvard Law.

As far as the CS degree not leading to some sort of certification...so? Once you’ve been out of school and in the workforce for five years, what you’ve done at work becomes the important factor, not some certification you got when you were 24. People who are successful in any STEM field continue to stay on top of new developments in their industry. People who aren’t interested enough in their chosen field to keep up with new developments are probably not going to be successful no matter what certification they got back in the day.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
TechFI
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

quantAndHold wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:07 pm If you want a quick, high paying job immediately after graduation, then CS, engineering, something like that. But I read something (that I’ll never be able to find again) where they were comparing salaries five years after college graduation, and found that people with liberal arts degrees were, on average, earning more than people with business and engineering degrees. The bottom line was that a liberal arts degree didn’t lead in a straight line to a job, but it taught communication and critical thinking skills that are valuable in any number of career paths.
I'm going to thumbs down liberal arts degree. They have no real value.

I think I came across something like that too... I find that highly suspect and would love to see the original article to tear it apart. It's important to also consider the context and comparisons they are making. What time horizon was the cohort they looked at? How exactly did they compare? Did they segment the information and look the top N%? Also engineering is a broad base... mechanical engineers ain't doing so good unlike petroleum engineers.
TechFI
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

There's many opinions on the board, and there's many paths to success. To make things agnostic, here's how I would play it for my kid:

- Most importantly, is that you want to set your kid up for a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'. It's much easier to win in life when you're rowing in the direction of the stream as opposed to against it. This means getting your kid in a prestigious school with the right degree.
- What is the right degree? It's important to link the degree with your career outcome. A degree alone is useless unless you can monetize it. For example, you can be a Harvard sociology grad and end up working at Starbucks. Is that what you want? Better to be a University of Washington CS grad and work in Amazon (as a dev/PM, not in the fulfillment center). So therefore the right degree is one that gives you the desired career outcome.
- So... what is the right career outcome? You want to be in a career where employers are constantly fighting for talent. This can happens in 2 ways. First option is there needs to be a favorable supply-demand curve... meaning less graduates than open positions, preferably much less. Second option is to have inter-industry competition. For example, big tech, big finance and big consulting all compete with one another (to some extent) for talent. This means when one industry pays more, the others need to adjust upwards. So if you don't want to go into tech, but think you would be better as a consultant, you will still get a second-order effect. Easiest indicator is compensation. Every major field has salary statistics from surveys, get that information and look at the trends. If it's going up 2-3% every year, you know that is a dead end (only keeping pace with inflation). If it's going up 5-10% every year, now that's where you want to be.
- Career success is always going to be a long tail distribution, some careers have a fatter tail. Moving an industry with a fatter tail will give you a better chance to win. Alternatively... we go to prestige. What makes a school prestigous? I'd define it as where the top companies hire from! Many of these lucrative careers have a list of target schools they hire from, make it of utmost priority to get into one of those schools. So if Duke sounds 'prestigous' but the top companies of the career you want to be in is not recruiting there, it is not prestigious. Prestige will position you from the get go to be near the long tail while normal folks will have to start from the mean.
- I'd totally discount passion as that is just a fluffy myth that people like to propagate. My only rule is don't go into a career that you absolutely *hate*. You don't have to be passionate about something to be successful, but if you hate it, you will mostly likely not succeed. Also I subscribe to the theory that passion is learned with accomplishments and achievements. Just focusing on being good (in a good career/industry), when you are good, you will achieve and be rewarded, and that will make you 'feel good' and your passion will grow.
- Lastly for risk mitigation because not everyone will make it, compare the long-tail results with the average results. It's probably safer to be in a career where the average results is 'good enough' for you (so that when you fail, you'll be ok). But preferably be in a career where you can have an unbounded long tail, so that means the sky is the limit. Career options that have poor average results, extremely long tail and bounded tails will therefore be the ones to avoid like a plague.

That's how I would play it. Start the self-fulfilling prophecy cycle.

Identify good careers to go into. Identify the right degree to get the prerequisites, and identify the right prestigious school to give you a leg up to put you in that long tail distribution, and target to join the top 10 companies in your career. Further along the way, use your prestige (now from your current employer, which you got from being in a prestigious school) to advance to other more prestigious companies. Repeat. Enjoy!
oldfort
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:38 pm - Career success is always going to be a long tail distribution, some careers have a fatter tail. Moving an industry with a fatter tail will give you a better chance to win. Alternatively... we go to prestige. What makes a school prestigous? I'd define it as where the top companies hire from! Many of these lucrative careers have a list of target schools they hire from, make it of utmost priority to get into one of those schools. So if Duke sounds 'prestigous' but the top companies of the career you want to be in is not recruiting there, it is not prestigious. Prestige will position you from the get go to be near the long tail while normal folks will have to start from the mean.
Some of this depends on what you mean by win. If win, means you FatFire at 35, you better enter an industry with fat tails. If win means Billions level money, you need an industry with fat tails. Alternatively, it is possible to break into the top 1% in fields without fat tails. The average physician specialist earns $340k. Two married to each other can bring in a household income of $680k. Within a given specialty, physician income tends to fall within a narrow range.
sd323232
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:38 pm
alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
All of them - the degree itself doesn’t lead to employment except if it is a degree in which there is a specific skill taught - computer science, engineering, accounting, mathematics, etc. That said, what brings employment is the individual’s work ethic, ingenuity and people skills. You can have a degree but if you don’t perform you are out. You can have a degree but if you don’t bring value to your employer you aren’t going far. You can have a degree but if your people skills and communication is poor you aren’t likely to land the job and if you do land it, moving up will be nearly impossible if you aren’t liked.
This is not what i see in real life. I work in engineering. We have engineers who do not perform, yet they get promoted because of their years of experience. It is basically guaranteed in engineering you will get promoted regardless if your work ethic, just do your time. We never hire anyone without engineering degree, we dont care what your work ethic or how smart you are, you will not get hired if you dont have engineering degree. I am not even gonna start on communication skills in engineering, many people i work with simply dont have it, non existent communications skills, yet they are all high paying professionals. This is not my opinion, this is real life, im just a messenger.
stoptothink
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by stoptothink »

TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:37 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:07 pm If you want a quick, high paying job immediately after graduation, then CS, engineering, something like that. But I read something (that I’ll never be able to find again) where they were comparing salaries five years after college graduation, and found that people with liberal arts degrees were, on average, earning more than people with business and engineering degrees. The bottom line was that a liberal arts degree didn’t lead in a straight line to a job, but it taught communication and critical thinking skills that are valuable in any number of career paths.


I find that highly suspect and would love to see the original article to tear it apart. It's important to also consider the context and comparisons they are making. What time horizon was the cohort they looked at? How exactly did they compare? Did they segment the information and look the top N%? Also engineering is a broad base... mechanical engineers ain't doing so good unlike petroleum engineers.
+1. Would LOVE to see that "something", as everything I've ever seen suggests that performing arts and random liberal arts degrees are in the bottom handful of majors when it comes to ROI; initially and long-term. I have countless examples in my own life (including more than a handful in my own family) where LA degrees from elite universities were basically worthless in the workforce, but my anecdotes aren't anymore relevant than anybody else's. Of course there are outliers.
Last edited by stoptothink on Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Gray
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Gray »

English, definitely English. Oh, also Political Science.

Just randomly picking my majors. Granted, with a Masters in Technology Management and another in Cybersecurity Engineering, I think my experience demonstrates that your undergraduate degree doesn’t define your life.

Still, I work in a field with people that can’t organize their thoughts, analyze, communicate, understand different points of view, and they often exist with a myopic world view focused on their “thing.” They don’t know what they don’t know, and don’t care. We bring in high-paid consultants to play captain obvious.

I think mixing a STEM major with a humanities major has the potential to develop a person with much more insight and capability. Well rounded people tend to do well.
AnEngineer
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by AnEngineer »

There have been some comments on engineering I want to clear up. These probably vary by specific field, but people write as if they don't.

Licensing is very field specific. If you are a civil engineer or work directly for the government, you are more likely to have or need it. In contrast, I don't think any of the 2000+ people at my company are PEs.

When I'm hiring I don't care where you went to school (my employer cares more). What matters is what you've accomplished and if you can demonstrate your understanding of relevant theory in an interview. You need specific knowledge to get hired. Resumes of college grads without the specific degree and courses won't get any consideration. Some differentiate themselves with soft skills once in the job, but you still have to get over that first hurdle.

In contrast, there are many with engineering degrees who are more like technicians. Later in their careers specific tool or software use may be sought after and this will change, thus being more necessary to stay current. Design roles are less susceptible, as you're expected to figure out any tools you need.

In terms of majoring in engineering, I'd recommend in the following cases:
1) Curious and interested in the topic
2) Plan to move into management, marketing, or some other non engineer role at an engineering company but need the technical background
3) Use it on the way to be a doctor or lawyer, assuming those prospects are good
4) Are satisfied not getting engagement from work and not being the most values employee

Separately, I'd say to avoid all "studies" majors.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

Gray wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:53 pm English, definitely English. Oh, also Political Science.

Just randomly picking my majors. Granted, with a Masters in Technology Management and another in Cybersecurity Engineering, I think my experience demonstrates that your undergraduate degree doesn’t define your life.

Still, I work in a field with people that can’t organize their thoughts, analyze, communicate, understand different points of view, and they often exist with a myopic world view focused on their “thing.” They don’t know what they don’t know, and don’t care. We bring in high-paid consultants to play captain obvious.

I think mixing a STEM major with a humanities major has the potential to develop a person with much more insight and capability. Well rounded people tend to do well.
That’s exactly what I did. CS degree from a liberal arts school. I am routinely called out for my analytical and communications skills.
oldfort
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

Gray wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:53 pm English, definitely English. Oh, also Political Science.

Just randomly picking my majors. Granted, with a Masters in Technology Management and another in Cybersecurity Engineering, I think my experience demonstrates that your undergraduate degree doesn’t define your life.
As an aside, a lot of cybersecurity programs are a joke. Too many of the faculty have zero real world experience with hacking adversary systems and are clueless about how the game is played.
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AAA
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by AAA »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:53 am Employment in computer science has and continues to skyrocket. Common objections are:
  • It's concentrated in a small number of HCOL areas
  • It's vulnerable to offshoring
  • You need to work 60-80 hour weeks to be successful
  • The number of six-figure jobs in CS are small
  • You have to attend an elite school to have a chance
I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from going into a particular field if that is what they want and if they think they can thrive in it. Obviously al lot of people do just that with computer science. I just want to point out what would for me be an unfavorable characteristic of this work, namely, that it seems every few years a lot of what you know becomes obsolete (FORTRAN anyone?) and you have to continually refresh a large part of your knowledge base. That gets harder to do as you get older. By contrast, if you are, say, a mechanical engineer, while the basics of your field may undergo enhancements the fundamental principles do not change e.g. Newton's Laws are still valid.
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wander
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by wander »

friar1610 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:56 am
wander wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:52 am College dropouts are worthwhile, there are many of them now billionaires.

Chemical engineering graduates get paid higher than other engineering majors.
What is your definition of "many"?
What is your definition?
basspond
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by basspond »

The local real estate organization just banned the word master from describing the bedroom or bathroom. So I wouldn’t want to get those at this time. But seriously any thing that doesn’t involve arts or humanities should be marketable without an “advanced” degree.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by joe8d »

Ependytis wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:07 am I think any degrees that leads to a job would be worthwhile. For example engineering, accounting, finance, physical therapy, nursing, marketing, etc. would be worthwhile. I would recommend going to a community colleges first then transferring to a state school. This will minimize the cost while maximizing the pay off. Paying for private school just can’t be justified except for a few majors. If someone says they’re worthwhile, ask them to show you the data of what their majors make 10 years after graduation versus the same majors from state schools.
:thumbsup
All the Best, | Joe
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alex123711
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alex123711 »

Valuethinker wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:29 am
alex123711 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:05 am
Normchad wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:32 pm I wouldn't come at it from that direction, but.....

Currently, there is an insatiable appetite for Computer Science/Computer engineering degrees, and the new grad salaries are skyrocketing.
The problem for me with computer science is there don't seem to be any professional accreditation, e.g an accountant can became a CA/CFA, lawyers and engineers get registration which are sought after and not easily attainable, where computer science doesn't have this differentiator, which leads your skills becoming quickly redundant as you get older (if you don't keep up) whereas an older accountant with a CFA would be still be sought after for their knowledge.
Accountants are CPAs. Certified Public Accountant? (I am not entirely familiar with the US terminology).

CA is the Canadian & Scottish designation for a chartered accountant (technically Scotland the institute is ICAS; in England & Wales you are an ACA and the institution is the ICAEW).

Hence the Canadian ad for the profession "CA, eh?" ;-). (it's a joke on a distinctive Canadian verbal tic, the tendency to say "eh?" ("ay") when Americans might say un-huh, and Scots would say "aye".

What it prepares you to do is to audit financial accounts and to publish them - so statutory accounting (for external consumption) as opposed to management accounting. You need to have worked in the audit function, normally, as well, to qualify.

CFA is a completely different thing - Chartered Financial Analyst. A rigorous series of exams focused on investing - stock market, bond markets etc. It's not required for anything, but you tend to find the younger sell side analysts and portfolio managers on the buy side are CFAs. The first thing you learn when you do the CFA is you cannot say "I am a CFA" ;-).

You don't need a CFA to do anything in particular.

One of my siblings is both a CA & a CFA. Glutton for punishment ;-).
Sorry yes I meant to say CA/CPA.
AerialWombat wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:29 am I have an engineering degree from a no-name state school, but work in the accounting field — with no accounting degree. I also own a tiny software company — with no CS degree or much ability to write code. All 5 employees at the software company know vastly more than I ever will (or even care to) about software development and our tech stack.

My point is that interest and aptitude are far more important than major. Skills can be acquired outside traditional university walls. Being able to analyze problems, create solutions, source and correlate information, etc. — those are the important skills in the “information age economy”.

So pick a major that is interesting, and teaches these skills. Don’t ignore the value of a double major or a minor. For “soft” majors, psych and econ go well together. And if somebody loves art history but tacks on a CS or math minor for career practicality, I see nothing wrong with that if that’s what they love.
How does that work, I thought you need an accounting degree to become an accountant?
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alex123711
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alex123711 »

tibbitts wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:03 am
alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
A degree you actually get is probably worthwhile. Most Bogleheads are for the most part extremely intelligent, and most could succeed is almost any degree program, so they tend to assume all degree choices will result in an equal probability of success. That's simply not the case for many of the rest of us, who might be here on the forums due to some combination of luck and minimal skill. So when we say a CS degree is in demand, what we mean is that someone who comes out of a degree program with well-above-average ability to immediately contribute - which we assume everyone will - is in demand. And probably if you look at top-ranked schools - again, what Bogleheads tend to assume - that's the case; it's just not the case for nearly everyone.
That's a good point, location also plays a big role. What should "the rest of us" do?
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

sd323232 wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 4:55 pm
Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:38 pm
alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
All of them - the degree itself doesn’t lead to employment except if it is a degree in which there is a specific skill taught - computer science, engineering, accounting, mathematics, etc. That said, what brings employment is the individual’s work ethic, ingenuity and people skills. You can have a degree but if you don’t perform you are out. You can have a degree but if you don’t bring value to your employer you aren’t going far. You can have a degree but if your people skills and communication is poor you aren’t likely to land the job and if you do land it, moving up will be nearly impossible if you aren’t liked.
This is not what i see in real life. I work in engineering. We have engineers who do not perform, yet they get promoted because of their years of experience. It is basically guaranteed in engineering you will get promoted regardless if your work ethic, just do your time. We never hire anyone without engineering degree, we dont care what your work ethic or how smart you are, you will not get hired if you dont have engineering degree. I am not even gonna start on communication skills in engineering, many people i work with simply dont have it, non existent communications skills, yet they are all high paying professionals. This is not my opinion, this is real life, im just a messenger.
That’s your experience. My experience in private sector finance and accounting - you don’t perform but are related to the owner or executives in charge, you not only keep your job but you get promoted. Outside of that, work anywhere else and don’t deliver, you will be out. Relationship building and communication skills are needed in the front, middle and back office. I’ve seen individuals who started out in the back office work their way up to the C suite, no inside connections until they actually started working for the company and over time built up that network which gave them a chance to move up. It’s not going to work for everyone but it’s definitely to your advantage to learn how to speak coherently and do it with confidence. If you bring value to your employer you eventually will be recognized, if they don’t you can take those skills with you to your next endeavor.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
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