Do You Regret Your CS or Engineering Major?

Do tech professionals regret their college major? 

Some do, of course; a few years into their career, they might believe they should have majored in anything butcomputer science. Fortunately, a new survey from PayScale suggests that many tech professionals don’t have regrets on the education front.

Specifically, some 42.2 percent of respondents who majored in engineering said they had no regrets about it, along with 34.9 percent of computer-science majors. That’s in stark contrast to those who focused on the humanities, where only a quarter had zero regrets. 

A lot of the regret has to do with student loans. Although only 24.9 percent of computer science grads regretted their loans—slightly ahead of the 18.7 percent of engineering grads who regretted theirs—roughly a third of those who majored in health sciences, art, and social sciences felt remorse over borrowing money for their education.

Among all those polled (i.e., everyone from sciences to humanities majors), some 27.1 percent regretted their student loans, well ahead of remorse over their area of study (12.2 percent) and poor networking (11.2 percent). Clearly, it’s debt that’s driving this feeling for most folks.

In the context of loans and educational regrets (or lack thereof), happier engineers and computer-science grads might have something to do with the technology industry’s low unemployment and relatively high starting salaries. If you’re a tech professional, your average annual salary is $93,244 (according to the Dice Salary Survey), which can go far higher if you specialize in a particularly in-demand segment, such as machine learning or artificial intelligence (A.I.). At firms such as Amazon, the starting salary for software engineers is in the low six figures, and includes bonuses and stock options.  

Of course, even with a high starting salary, it can still take quite some time to pay off even a substantial fraction of student loans. However, an argument can be made that someone who specializes in something like machine learning has a better chance at eliminating significant debt than someone who majored in, say, art history. In light of that, engineering and CS majors having fewer regrets than their liberal-arts peers certainly makes sense. 

No career comes with a guarantee of regret-free happiness, but it seems that many engineers and CS majors aren’t upset about their choices. Hopefully they remain optimistic throughout their current and future jobs.

8 Responses to “Do You Regret Your CS or Engineering Major?”

  1. I don’t regret the major, I love CS. I regret my first job. DONT trust everything you hear or see. Do a walk through if they will allow it and ask the employees about their average day. I joined a company I thought would be a good first job and has steadily moved from any dev whatsoever to helpdesk and maint on stuff that is 10 to 20 years old. As someone who wanted to be a software dev. It’s making it harder to look for a new job.

  2. BA in philosophy, zero college debt and 20 years earning good money in Silicon Valley, so definitely no regrets here. I grew up and went to university in the UK. Came out of BA in philosophy and MSc in computer science with no debt, since it was all free. (They actually paid me to take the MSc, in order to ‘convert’ a liberal arts grad into a tech worker.) Too bad US health care is such a mess. Otherwise I might be able to slow down a bit before retirement age.

  3. I regret it all. I worked as a software engineer myself, self taught. I am 53 yrs old now. I was running circles around the college kids and still got paid less because I had no piece of paper from some dumb college. Went to college during Obama admin because, well…you can guess why since employment and the economy tanked during his admin. I literally only opened two of my books the entire time in college because I was already doing for years what I was then getting a degree for. I have had to hold crappy labor jobs to suppliment my tech salary when there was one. I was never told hey you might be too old to be doing this now. Instead I was told I would make from $70k to $120 a year…what a joke. I was never told nobody will hire you perm, they will hire you for their pet project and when it is done drop you like a hot potato. Along the way at a young age my lower back was injured. I have software I wrote for genetic study and cancer research used by ivy league colleges and labs in Europe but here I am broke, in pain without insurance, and hopeless now at age 53. I feel like the government is responsible for the state of the economy and THEY should take care of those loans!!! I was lied to, misinformed, and taken advantage of PERIOD! Age now keeps me from getting the most menial tech job. I go to interviews and i feel like I just walked into a college dorm, and they feel awkward too as it is obvious. They don’t want me or my experience…and I feel too old to reinvent myself and still fighting for disability!

  4. My regret is just due to the burnout factor of working in IT. It’s good money but at times feels like blood money. A lot of corporate workplaces are toxic waste dumps with entitled attitudes and a lack of accountability. IT is good as long as you understand you have to save and be prepared to sail away as soon as you are able to fanatically. If you truly love IT, then save enough money so you can do your own thing and pursue IT work that interests you and allows you to be your own boss.

  5. Patrick

    Majored in philosophy, been working in software all my life, no regrets. Back in the 80’s, they were teaching Pascal in the CS classes. What a joke. I crushed the assembly language class (so yes, I took some CS, I just didn’t want to major in it), got my first job in this new fangled language called C. Now I write front end Javascript and still going strong.

  6. I had to work my way through university and help support my mother and sister as my father’s health had failed. Discovered I liked coding and was good with logic and graduated with high hopes. Quickly learned that you are only as good as the last project and technology you worked with (any longer than 6 months in the past and they didn’t want to hear about it). And then I got to age 40 and was watching friends fall out of the industry. One who was just over 60 committed suicide, seems he had gone into management, but missed the boardroom level. I finally got to 62 and have retired, barely. IT is one of the worst careers out there. They’ll work you to death and the clowns on the top get the vast majority of the rewards. Should have stuck with more of a science program of study.

  7. Larry Tessari

    I am glad I have an electrical engineering degree but the technology keeps changing and engineers who work mostly contract assignments do not get training when new technology comes out. On the other hand, I have an MBA, which does not do much in today’s job market. Most employers would prefer Lean Six Sigma training over an MBA

  8. James Carter

    IT work was fun and lucrative and I felt like i Was doing something very few could do well. Now with the influx of Asian Indian workers who can work at $23.00 an hour it’s very hard to compete with those cut rate labor salaries. I would not encourage an IT degree. The health fields are the cash cows of the future.