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Engineering or Accountancy?

I can't decide between these two career paths, mainly because I don't know enough about them. I was considering Accounting because I'm very good at maths but I don't know what the work involves, and I was considering engineering because I love science and I'm equally as good at it as maths, but I am unsure what field I'd specialise in and whether or not it's an easy job to get in the UK. I was thinking either chemical or nuclear.

I've chosen A level history, maths, physics and chemistry, but I don't know if these are suitable to keep both career paths available to me.

I've also heard that engineering is a lot harder and pays less than accountancy (unless your an experienced engineer) can anyone confirm that?

The easy answer is do what you enjoy most but that's not going to help me at all, I need to know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life

Please help!
(edited 10 years ago)
Reply 1
Engineering is a harder degree at uni but clearly more sought after (unless it's specifically Accountancy)

Engineering at a top uni will open doors to Investment Banking, if that is what you wish (but it is by no means easy to get into).
Reply 2
An engineering degree will keep doors open to jobs in both accounting and engineering, but an accounting degree will close the engineering side. As such, you should do engineering, it is also more fun to study, imo.
Original post by BlueTark
I can't decide between these two career paths, mainly because I don't know enough about them. I was considering Accounting because I'm very good at maths but I don't know what the work involves, and I was considering engineering because I love science and I'm equally as good at it as maths, but I am unsure what field I'd specialise in and whether or not it's an easy job to get in the UK. I was thinking either chemical or nuclear.

I've chosen A level history, maths, physics and chemistry, but I don't know if these are suitable to keep both career paths available to me.

I've also heard that engineering is a lot harder and pays less than accountancy (unless your an experienced engineer) can anyone confirm that?

The easy answer is do what you enjoy most but that's not going to help me at all, I need to know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life

Please help!
Engineering is primarily maths and physics (in style of physics A level somewhat), where the maths that you learn is then used in application.

Having chemistry as well can also be a useful benefit!

Go to open days for unis and check out both subjects and see what you prefer. I myself could only speak about engineering.
Reply 4
Thanks for the quick replies, so from what has been said here it would seem Engineering is the ideal route. But is it true though, are Engineers are undervalued in most places? I've read some stories about people who have finished engineering with a masters degree but are still unable to find a job in engineering?
Reply 5
Original post by BlueTark
Thanks for the quick replies, so from what has been said here it would seem Engineering is the ideal route. But is it true though, are Engineers are undervalued in most places? I've read some stories about people who have finished engineering with a masters degree but are still unable to find a job in engineering?

If they've got a half decent engineering degree (from a reasonable university) and can't get a job it's them that's the problem.. Neither I nor the engineers I graduated with have struggled to get a job (though not all in engineering).
As for undervalued.. realistically you need a lot of training when you start work before you really become useful as an engineer, so you're not likely to be paid mega bucks early on. Later on that may well be a point..
Reply 6
Original post by BlueTark
Thanks for the quick replies, so from what has been said here it would seem Engineering is the ideal route. But is it true though, are Engineers are undervalued in most places? I've read some stories about people who have finished engineering with a masters degree but are still unable to find a job in engineering?


I think people in my cohort believes that engineers are undervalued in most places, where they usually said "if you did well in your degree, you don't do engineering after you graduate". I don't fully agree or disagree with this statement, but most of the more competent students ended up in engineering management or non-engineering (ie. accounting, management, finance) field.
Reply 7
Engineering management? What does it involve, and what does it require?
First thing's first: if you study engineering you can still become and accountant when you graduate, however the reverse is not true.

In terms of degrees, engineering is quite a hard degree that involves a fair bit of maths (but not as much as maths or physics) alongside a host of other things, from lab reports to group projects to programming to using other software packages. But it's definitely worth it because it's one of the most versatile degrees out there. I'm not aware of any other degree which keeps as many doors open. I don't know much about accounting degrees, however.

In terms of pay, engineering is generally paid well. You can look up starting salaries for yourself on Unistats and company websites. Of course on the internet a lot of people complain about the salary because they think they're entitled to a lot of money right off the bat, but to actually be a useful employee to the company you need a fair bit of training, which takes time (and money).

Location also plays a role. A lot of engineering jobs are in the somewhat economically depressed parts of the country, where wages aren't generally that high. But even in these locations, some of the engineering graduate wages are very impressive.

You can also work in oil & gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fast moving consumer goods etc. where the pay is generally pretty good. Everyone from my uni goes into oil because it's the dominant industry up here and this year I know of very few people starting on less than £30,000, with some getting as high as £40,000 base starting. So if you're looking for money as an engineer you can definitely find it.

In terms of how easy it is to get a job, I wrote a post about it a few days ago.
(edited 10 years ago)
Reply 9
Original post by Smack
First thing's first: if you study engineering you can still become and accountant when you graduate, however the reverse is not true.

In terms of degrees, engineering is quite a hard degree that involves a fair bit of maths (but not as much as maths or physics) alongside a host of other things, from lab reports to group projects to programming to using other software packages. But it's definitely worth it because it's one of the most versatile degrees out there. I'm not aware of any other degree which keeps as many doors open. I don't know much about accounting degrees, however.

In terms of pay, engineering is generally paid well. You can look up starting salaries for yourself on Unistats and company websites. Of course on the internet a lot of people complain about the salary because they think they're entitled to a lot of money right off the bat, but to actually be a useful employee to the company you need a fair bit of training, which takes time (and money).

Location also plays a role. A lot of engineering jobs are in the somewhat economically depressed parts of the country, where wages aren't generally that high. But even in these locations, some of the engineering graduate wages are very impressive.

You can also work in oil & gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fast moving consumer goods etc. where the pay is generally pretty good. Everyone from my uni goes into oil because it's the dominant industry up here and this year I know of very few people starting on less than £30,000, with some getting as high as £40,000 base starting. So if you're looking for money as an engineer you can definitely find it.

In terms of how easy it is to get a job, I wrote a post about it a few days ago.

Thank you very much smack, that has answered just about all my queries on the topic. It looks like engineering is a good choice since it can lead to accountancy anyway. My only question now is how does one obtain work experience with an engineering firm? When exactly should I think about looking for engineering work experience as well, as I have began A levels this year so Im not sure when exactly I should start looking.
Do engineering, and if you enjoy it, go into it after your degree. If not, go into accountancy.

Accountancy is not degree-specific, whereas engineering is. Keep your options open.
Original post by BlueTark
Thank you very much smack, that has answered just about all my queries on the topic. It looks like engineering is a good choice since it can lead to accountancy anyway. My only question now is how does one obtain work experience with an engineering firm? When exactly should I think about looking for engineering work experience as well, as I have began A levels this year so Im not sure when exactly I should start looking.


Work experience is usually acquired via the same means as a permanent job: a company advertises a vacancy, you apply for it, and if they like your CV they'll interview you, and if you perform well at the interview you'll get offered something. You can also write to companies yourself asking for something, i.e. a speculative application. And many companies have links with particular universities where they offer work placements to students.

You need to have something before you graduate, so ideally you'd have at least something arranged for the summer before your final year at university. It's extremely rare for people to have anything before they start university.
Reply 12
Original post by BlueTark
Engineering management? What does it involve, and what does it require?


Basically project management for engineering projects/managing a group of engineers
Engineering, only if you feel you can hack it though. A 2.2 is acceptable for some sectors, including some in Engineering, if it's from some highly quantitative. However a 2.2 in Engineering will close a lot of doors that would otherwise have been open had you got a 2.1 in Accounting.

All employers care about these days is the grade you've got, they'll train you, unless you're going into a sector where background knowledge is somewhat essential, i.e. Engineering. Engineering is also not a very popular choice at university and thus in terms of S/D, employers in the engineering field can't be 'as picky'. However even at the top companies that take specifically engineers, they'll be looking for 2.1 or above.
Original post by BlueTark
I can't decide between these two career paths, mainly because I don't know enough about them. I was considering Accounting because I'm very good at maths but I don't know what the work involves, and I was considering engineering because I love science and I'm equally as good at it as maths, but I am unsure what field I'd specialise in and whether or not it's an easy job to get in the UK. I was thinking either chemical or nuclear.

I've chosen A level history, maths, physics and chemistry, but I don't know if these are suitable to keep both career paths available to me.

I've also heard that engineering is a lot harder and pays less than accountancy (unless your an experienced engineer) can anyone confirm that?

The easy answer is do what you enjoy most but that's not going to help me at all, I need to know what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life

Please help!

Go for engineering over accounting of u can only pick one over the other. Engineering involves maths and science so it's a no brainer. Plus, the maths in engineering is harder than accounting maths. Alot of people think that accountants are math gods but in reality they only do the very basics of maths which anyone would be capable of doing. If u wanna put ur good math skills to the test, go for engineering. Also, you'd probably be bored sitting behind a desk all day compared to being active and moving all day. And engineering will allow u to make things that u can be proud of.

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