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Diary of a made man

Reader Mail – Should I Switch from Engineering to Accounting or Finance?

by Ian Balina

A year ago


I got the following mail from a reader on Quora. I thought it would be a good idea to share the dialog we had, as this is a question that I get a lot.

Also, if you would like to get a well-crafted response from me when asking me a question, take note how well crafted Jimmy’s questions are. No one liners, he clearly thought through what he wanted to ask in advance.

Question 1 – What are your thoughts on switching majors?

Hello Ian, I have read some of your posts and have benefited greatly. So, I want to thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.

I understand that you are probably very busy but I want to ask for your advice.

I am an engineering student with a drive to invest in real estate and start a business in the future

The biggest reason I am majoring in engineering is to get a high paying job and build up capital to start investing in real estate and owning a business. I am very good at math, programming, and sciences.

However, I have been contemplating switching to accounting or finance since it will be easier and faster than engineering. Furthermore, I enjoy managing money such as budgeting, forecasting, investing in stocks, and pretty much everything that revolves around money. I can say I am pretty “passionate” about money, even more so than engineering.

From your experience and knowledge, what are your thoughts on switching?

If it matters, I’m turning 26 this year and I want to build up as much capital as I can by 30. My girlfriend and I are planning on buying our first property in 3 years (she has a full-time job and also has motivation to start her own company in the future)

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear back from you.

My Response

Hello Jimmy, did you read my blog posts and watch my videos? I discussed some of these things on my blog, www.ianbalina.com.

Depends on the type of engineering you’re majoring in. In general, engineering majors make more money after college than accounting.

I would check with Glassdoor’s salaries.

 
Accountant Average Salaries
Engineer Average Salaries

Question #2 – Did studying engineering help you build your businesses?

Hey, Ian thanks for the response! I most definitely read your blog and watched your great video on college and not being broke. I’m majoring in electronics and computer engineering in Canada.

After having some time to think I have decided to stick with engineering due to the skills I will develop as well as a higher paying job coming out.

I noticed you have engineering credentials, would you say studying engineering helped you build your business/businesses? Maybe the problem-solving skills helped or just the ability to stay strong when things get tough like in engineering school?

Also, have you worked in the industry before? What was it like? Do you enjoy being an engineer?

Thanks for your time, I know it’s very valuable to you and I appreciate you giving me some of it.

My Response

To be honest, I don’t think engineering helped me at all. I had a hacker and technical mindset, prior to majoring in engineering. If anything, it’s more a self-selection bias. People who are technical and hackers are likely to become engineers. Being engineers doesn’t make them technical and hackers. I never planned to have a career in engineering, I just wanted a certification stating that I was technically competent.

I knew I was always an entrepreneur at heart and wanted to run my own business. I knew being an engineer was putting me on a path to be an employee, so I didn’t take it seriously since the goal was to start my own company, and not be an employee in the rat race. I never formally worked as an engineer, however, I worked as an IT consultant at Deloitte, and as an IT Specialist (Sales Engineer) for my first 3 years.

Question 3 – Do you credit your engineering degree in helping you land an IT consulting job?

Wow, I assumed most people get an engineering degree to become an engineer. And I thought engineering would be the best choice to make a high salary. I guess I haven’t seen much of the world yet.

However, you do have to give credit to your engineering degree in helping you land an IT consulting job right?

I mean, it would be difficult for someone with an accounting background or finance background to go into IT consulting at Deloitte I’m assuming.

Which in turn aided you in landing your job at IBM.

It’s a great story of an unconventional path after a degree which is considered pretty standard to become an engineer as a career.

I’m glad I have found your blog and got the opportunity to chat with you. I feel like I am not the standard engineering student. I care about business, money, sales, communicating, and building relationships. Sometimes I feel like I should go into sales and forget about school haha

But like you, I want a degree which proves my technical abilities; maybe it’s for my ego, to prove that I can do it.

Thanks for using your time to share your story and wisdom with me.

Follow-Up Response

My engineering degree was helpful in that it helped me separate myself from other job candidates. When I apply for jobs, the fact that I have a BS and MS in Engineering, helps me pass the initial stages of screening.

I got my job at Deloitte, not because of my degree, but because of a job referral. As I mention on my website, I initially was rejected for a job as an analyst at Deloitte.

My former manager who hired me to IBM told me I got my job because of my tech startup and other things I was doing on the side, not because of my academic qualifications. However, my two degrees just proved to him that I was technical and smart. So yes it got me past the online screen, but my experience in starting and running my own businesses is what got me the job after I passed those initial screens.

Jimmy’s Final Comments

This is great information and let me tell you, it’s inspiring. I guess I put a little too much emphasis on academic credentials than I should.

Thank you for sharing your story and experience with me Ian.

I appreciate you doing so.

My Final Comments

Academic credentials help as they give you stamps of approval (social proof).

Have a question for me?

Let me know what other topics you would like me to cover on my site and I’ll work them into my upcoming content. Send me a well thought out message here.

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