Not really sure what is a major and what is a career? What are the differences and what are the similarities? Read below!

What is a major?

  • A major is a specific subject field that a student chooses to focus and specialize in.
  • A major will require students to take courses/classes that focus on the subject area which will be a third or half of the courses they will take during their undergraduate career.

Why is a major important?

  • Majors are important because all students who enroll into college will need to choose and complete a major to receive a degree.
  • Majors are very important because they prepare you for a certain field or career. For example, if you want to be a civil engineer, you will need to complete a civil engineering major to get a degree in it and qualify and meet requirements necessary to be a civil engineer at a company.
  • You can look at a major(s) as a key to a locked door to a job or career

How can you narrow down majors and chose one or two to complete?

It can be difficult to narrow down and even choose a major or majors that you’re interested in. There are many different ways and how you can approach this issue, here are some tips that might help you in choosing a major:

  • Take a variety of classes with subjects that you are interested in and based on those courses, you can choose to delve deeper into next level courses in those areas.
  • Make a list of majors you’re interested in and explore the courses needed to complete the major to see if they are courses that fits with your interests
  • Take assessments to help match a major to your interests
  • Talk to students who are majoring in those that you’re interested in
  • Talk to professionals in a career field or job that require a major you’re interested in
  • Set up meetings to talk to career advisors and academic advisors

The timeline or deadlines for students to choose and declare a major once they’re in college is going to vary depending on if they are attending a four year institution or a two year technical college. For students attending four year institutions, many students choose a major at the end of sophomore (second) year. For two year colleges, students often choose a major at the beginning since these programs are shorter.

Sources with tips to help you choose a major(s):

List of majors


What is a career?

  • A career is a long term professional path or journey in pursuing an occupation(s) based on your passions and interests.
  • A career consists of jobs and titles that you have held, accomplishments you have earned, and is compiled over a period of time.
  • Careers may require a certain level of education, experiences, training, and certifications.
  • Careers may last a couple of years to a lifetime.

How and what are the steps needed for the careers?

  • How you get a career and the steps to forming a career can be nuanced and will be different for everyone.
  • For some traditional careers, such as a physician career, there can be a general process or more structured path such as majoring in a sciences subject area and afterwards attending medical school and earning a medical degree. Then completing a residency program and obtaining licensure and lastly praciting.
  • Careers that do not have a “clear” or structured journey may be confusing and daunting but start early in exploring different career paths, research, and connect with professionals in the field or career to gain perspective in what makes sense to complete for education requirements and experiences appropriate to prepare you for the desired career.

List of careers and their average salaries


Differences between major and career: 

  • A major is a specialized focus subject area and usually is a group of classes/courses categorized to fulfill requirements of studying the focused subject area.
  • A career is a set of jobs and experiences that leads to a specific occupation. 
  • A major requires completing courses/classes and you will then earn an undergraduate degree.
  • A career usually begins after completing a set of education, training, or certification and the end of a career usually contains a variety of jobs and experiences.

Relationship between major and career:

  • Choosing a major to earn a post secondary degree can help you get jobs or continue professional schooling to progress towards a career.
  • A major is more like a stepping stone or first step in embarking on a career journey. You need to major in a subject area to receive the credentials in the education aspect in order to begin obtaining appropriate employment and experiences that make up a career.