One of the biggest challenge every student faces is the decision of what subject to major in. Each type of degree opens up specific opportunities and represents an education that prepares the student for work in one or more fields. Although degrees don't have to limit job opportunities, the right one can make it easier to pursue an interest as a professional. Business and engineering degrees are just two options open to analytical, ambitious students.
Your aptitudes and interests as a student may cause you to tend toward either a business degree or an engineering degree more than the alternative option. Business degrees require students to study the principles and techniques of managing work teams. They also rely on a student's verbal and written communication skills. Business degrees also require teamwork and social skills.
Engineering degrees are appropriate for students who are even more analytical and find technical subjects interesting. An engineering degree requires students who can produce precision work and follow rigorous methods with attention to numbers and mathematical formulas. Engineering students also need to be strong visual learners, able to interpret diagrams and technical schematics.
A business degree has a relatively broad scope. Even an MBA, or master of business administration degree, prepares students for work in a wide range of businesses or management-level positions. Engineering degrees are somewhat more specific, focusing on a single field within engineering that may prepare a student for a more limited number of job titles. Students with a favorite science or specific job in mind may be willing to focus on a single field, but those who want more variety and a degree with broader applications should choose business or another subject area altogether.
Students who sign up for business degree programs or engineering degree programs will take a very different series of courses. Business students take classes in a wide range of subjects to accommodate the more general type of learning a business education requires. This may include writing classes, courses in accounting, psychology and math courses such as calculus and statistics. Some business students earn undergraduate degrees in a field other than business before applying to business school, giving them room to explore more career options.
Engineering students need to specialize sooner in their college careers. Each area of engineering, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering and chemical engineering, features its own specialized courses. Students in all engineering fields also study natural sciences and mathematics to provide strong foundations for their work.
Both engineering and business degree holders have generally strong job prospects. Both fields have high and consistent demands for new employees. Engineering jobs, in particular, are notable for their steadiness and relatively high earnings. According to Michigan Technological University, job offers for engineering graduates ranged from around $40,000 a year for surveying and geological engineering positions to more than $60,000 a year for chemical and computer engineers, as of 2010.
Business degree holders can expect to earn salaries based on the businesses they go to work for, with larger businesses offering the highest salaries and smaller ones offering lower compensation up front but more room to grow with the company. The business field is highly competitive, but managers with business degrees have the ability to find work elsewhere, following termination or after a successful career phase with one business.