The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: It Figures on September 27, 2012, 01:18:42 PM

Title: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on September 27, 2012, 01:18:42 PM
Education costs are high.  Smart students are looking to get the best bang for their education buck.  When you take into account cost of an undergraduate degree and the return on its investment, what would you say is the most mustachian degree? 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: rjack on September 27, 2012, 01:22:59 PM
Computer Science
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on September 27, 2012, 01:24:38 PM
Wow that was fast, thanks!
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: JohnGalt on September 27, 2012, 01:28:15 PM
Computer Science of some sort is probably the best undergrad 4 year degree if that's your intent and assuming your interested in it. 

Another option I would consider if I went back would be a shorter trade school degree/certificate of some sort. 

All that said - don't study something you hate just on the expectation of a good paycheck out of school.  First off - you'll be miserable doing it.  Second - you probably won't make as much money as you'd expect if you're not passionate and driven about it. 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on September 27, 2012, 01:31:16 PM
I agree that you should enjoy the field you are studying or working in.  However, with that said, sometimes we do a job that we mostly  like in order to retire early and do the stuff we really LOVE!!!
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: bo_knows on September 27, 2012, 01:39:45 PM
I agree that you should enjoy the field you are studying or working in.  However, with that said, sometimes we do a job that we mostly  like in order to retire early and do the stuff we really LOVE!!!

Agreed.  I like computers in general, got an IT degree, then a Masters in Systems Engineering (paid for by my company), but I take no enjoyment in my software testing position.  Great people, great company, great pay, not that enjoyable, but it's just a J-O-B.

Also to add:  I do think Computer Science is a good choice these days... but with enough drive, you can learn computer science without even getting a degree. Once you get a single company to take a chance on you without a degree, your experience will speak louder than a piece of paper.  It's a possible route people can take if they're driven and debt averse.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: tooqk4u22 on September 27, 2012, 02:26:46 PM
Accounting - the field is lucrative, can be flexible, and if you don't want to be an accountant it has many applications in business - combine it with a minor/dual major with CS and then it could be the perfect degree. 

But like above don't do something just for money or just to save money, if you don't like it or don't naturally gravitate to it then you won't be good at and you won't make as much doing it.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: freelancerNfulltimer on September 27, 2012, 02:29:49 PM
Seconded about learning on your own. Lynda.com is a (very low) monthly subscription website with tons of video lessons on a variety of computer/internet related topics like PHP, JAVA, Javascript etc... programming.

A degree is nice in Computer Science but isn't necessary. I would start taking some online tutorials first to see how you like it and if it's something you can handle then go for the degree. Taking the online classes first will give you a leg up as well.

I think starting salary for a .NET programmer is like $70,000 or so.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: cosmie on September 27, 2012, 02:57:36 PM
There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You have a predominantly engineering crowd here, so you'll get answers accordingly (which will result in good money, but not an exhaustive list of options).

For the most part, going with a STEM field (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STEM_fields) that aligns with your interests will give you the most bang-for-your-buck. As well, STEM programs generally have more funding for students in the form of scholarships, research, internships, etc.

There are also several fields in Business that are extremely well paying. Supply Chain Management, Accounting, and Marketing degrees, combined with an analytical focus/mindset, would be a quite lucrative gig. In fact, I'm getting what's essentially an applied statistics degree through a business school, and just received an internship offer in supply chain at a base pay of $23/hr for the internship.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Mariana on September 27, 2012, 03:02:13 PM
Nursing and engineering are also good BS degrees.  I'm a nurse and can attest to earning a good salary (over $60,000) right out of school.  Two of my brothers-in-law are engineers (one mechanical and one electrical) and they make more than I do. 
I guess it's relative.  Now that I'm reading my post I see that some people may not consider my starting salary very high, especially compared to a programmer's!  But there are some more options.
Definitely go with something you'll enjoy, too, as that is priceless.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: $_gone_amok on September 27, 2012, 03:11:59 PM
You should always study a subject that you enjoy. A lot of high paying jobs could easily sustain a MMM life style regardless of what you studied in college.  If you like art, study art, if you like math, study math.  I think an undergrad degree should be about personal enrichment as opposite to a fast track to riches.

Edit:
A few schools offer combined BS/MS degree in financial engineering which will open doors for you to the world of trading and hedge funds.  A trader's lifestyle isn't exactly MMMs but its the fastest way to make millions.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: freelancerNfulltimer on September 27, 2012, 03:18:55 PM
Nursing and engineering are also good BS degrees.  I'm a nurse and can attest to earning a good salary (over $60,000) right out of school.  Two of my brothers-in-law are engineers (one mechanical and one electrical) and they make more than I do. 
I guess it's relative.  Now that I'm reading my post I see that some people may not consider my starting salary very high, especially compared to a programmer's!  But there are some more options.
Definitely go with something you'll enjoy, too, as that is priceless.

I hear it is getting harder to find jobs in nursing. However a friend just finished her Physicians Assistant degree and has already secured a job a the Mayo Clinic. I don't know how much she's making starting salary but I would feel comfortable guessing $70,000. She probably has $80,000 in student loans.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: AJ on September 27, 2012, 03:37:05 PM
My sister just finished dental hygienist school and started out making $42 an hour 1 day a week. She went down to $35/hr when she got on full time, but still pretty good for only 2 years of school. Plus she has the flexibility to be part time, if she ever wants to be semi-FI.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 27, 2012, 05:13:16 PM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Sparafusile on September 27, 2012, 05:27:02 PM
I would have to agree. I came within 30 hours of graduating with a computer science degree. I just couldn't force myself to go to the obscure 500-level math classes that I knew I would never use. Despite that, I've been very successful in the computer science field. I learned a lot of really great things in school, but the really useful things I learned on my own as the need arose.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Guardian on September 27, 2012, 05:42:53 PM
So how would you wise folks recommend I go about getting into Sustainability (I love it all but really love solar panels and water purification) without going to Arizona State University at 10k a year and taking classes I don't like at all (50% of the classes I do like, but some of it is wicked hard to endure). I am already paying off my debt from community college and working full time.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on September 28, 2012, 06:19:32 AM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

Call me dense, but I'm not sure I understand.  Do you mean that an undergraduate degree is irrelevant/immaterial or that you can reach ER and FI with any undergraduate degree?
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 28, 2012, 07:25:17 AM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

Call me dense, but I'm not sure I understand.  Do you mean that an undergraduate degree is irrelevant/immaterial or that you can reach ER and FI with any undergraduate degree?

Either.  I meant mostly the latter, that it's irrelevant what degree you have.  But since you point it out, the degree itself is mostly unnecessary as well.

The wife and I plan to be FI by our early 30s.  Our degrees?  Philosophy (me) and English (her).  Two mostly useless liberal arts degrees.  They aren't huge accelerants to FIRE, but we enjoyed the hell out of them.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Use it up, wear it out... on September 28, 2012, 08:24:43 AM
arebelspy,

Allow me to disagree. There continue to be many jobs out there that require that you HAVE an undergraduate degree, regardless of what it is. Not that you need one to do the job, but companies use it as a filter.

The same is, sadly, even becoming true in computer science. When I started out (with my english literature degree) what they cared about is that you could do the job, primarily because there was far more work than qualified people. These days, I see many more jobs that require a degree (that filtering thing again). I was even told that I could not get a particular job because I didn't have an engineering or comp-sci undergrad degree, despite having 15 years of experience in the field.

Not impossible to get a great job without a degree - but certainly easier with one.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 28, 2012, 08:44:05 AM
There continue to be many jobs out there that require that you HAVE an undergraduate degree, regardless of what it is.

And those jobs are required to reach FI?

Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Use it up, wear it out... on September 28, 2012, 08:52:28 AM
There continue to be many jobs out there that require that you HAVE an undergraduate degree, regardless of what it is.

And those jobs are required to reach FI?

Required... such a strong word. Certainly a job that requires a degree is not required to reach FI.
However, those jobs often pay more. They can accelerate FI. And many people will find the broader set of work options allows them to pick a more satisfactory life for themselves while they work toward FI.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 28, 2012, 09:13:22 AM
Possibly.

Many maths have been done on the ERE community and other places showing the four years of college (and costs) may set you back more, especially if you're planning on being out in 10 years or less.

It really depends on the path you take, and talking about specific jobs that require a degree is as irrelevant as me naming ones that don't.

Each person will have a different route, and if they have the right mindset I'd say that a college degree itself isn't necessary, but even if you decide to get one, the degree you get is largely irrelevant and immaterial.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: AJ on September 28, 2012, 10:23:34 AM
Each person will have a different route, and if they have the right mindset I'd say that a college degree itself isn't necessary, but even if you decide to get one, the degree you get is largely irrelevant and immaterial.

I agree that everyone has to blaze their own path, and that any degree (or none) can still reach FI. But the OP asked what the "biggest bang for your buck" would be. I took that to mean "if you're goal is early FI, which degree would best help you with that." Any educational path can eventually lead to FI (even ERE), but some are smoother than others.

I would think that there are two categories of education that would be most helpful on a Mustachian path:
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: anastrophe on September 28, 2012, 10:33:17 AM
If I was going to do it over, I would not get a 4-year degree, I would go to tech school for an associate's in a trade.

If I had to get a 4-year degree, then most STEM-related avenues seem like a good bet, provided you enjoy the work--I know people with CS degrees who hate programming and left it for theatre, and people with chemistry degrees that thought lab work post-graduation would make them rip out their eyeballs. If you can't work in the field, it's probably not worth it, but if you can, there's funding.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: totoro on September 28, 2012, 10:49:30 AM
What I have been considering with my kids lately is whether there is anything they could train in while in high school that would lead to high wages right away after or before graduation and allow them to work for a couple of years, invest, and then go to college/university if they would like.   A trade seems the most likely proposition right now given that they are not computer obsessed.

I'd rather spend the money early to get them trained in something practical.  My son who is just turning 14 will be starting his first job next month obtained through a family connection.  He will be trained as a pharmacy tech which should lead to a slightly better than average summer and pt jobs.  I would actually pay his wages to get this experience (although I don't have to) because what he starts with now can lead to a better position earlier and will likely allow him to be hired in a number of locations near where we live.  He will be working 5-10 hrs a week to start and saving most of the money.


Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 28, 2012, 11:21:02 AM
If I was going to do it over, I would not get a 4-year degree, I would go to tech school for an associate's in a trade.

Recent ERE thread on the "ideal" path to ERE that your post reminded me of:
http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/topic.php?id=532
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: anastrophe on September 28, 2012, 11:53:08 AM
If I was going to do it over, I would not get a 4-year degree, I would go to tech school for an associate's in a trade.

Recent ERE thread on the "ideal" path to ERE that your post reminded me of:
http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/topic.php?id=532

Yes, I remember that thread (not really recent, I started out lurking over there a couple years back before MMM) but that last reply has got it.

I regret my 4-year liberal arts degree, though primarily just for the student loan debt--my writing and research skills are strong which must be good for something. But digging out from that debt has put ERE permanently out of reach for me, since I'm starting over at essentially zero, ten years after graduating high school. Granted, I am in much better shape than many of my peers, but given what I've learned now, I could have been so far ahead with a two-year degree in carpentry or a plumbing license.

I try not to dwell on it though, starting here is still better than starting at 40 or 50 or never.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on September 28, 2012, 12:12:54 PM
Sorry you regret yours.

I wouldn't go back and change mine.  If FI was the only thing important to me, I sure would.  But I really enjoyed my liberal arts degree, and don't care that it wasn't the fastest way to FI.

I guess the question is: looking forward, what will make you happiest?  That may or may not be the quickest path to FI.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: jrhampt on September 28, 2012, 12:35:47 PM
I would go with something like Statistics or Actuarial Science with some computer programming classes.  Very practical and in demand lots of places.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: unitsinc on September 28, 2012, 12:53:47 PM
I've got an associates degree(two years from a local community college) in Process Technology.

Average starting salary: 75k-80k(~$30-$35/hr)
Average days worked per year: ~180(Not counting vacation. Can work more if you want more money. Overtime ranges from 1.5-3x of hourly)
Cost of college including books: <5k

It's pretty hard to beat 80k for half a year of work, plus full benefits and retirement packages(if you wanna put in that many years) for such a small investment of time and money. Not to mention the industry is pretty much always hiring.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on September 28, 2012, 01:26:11 PM
I'm a grade 12 coop teacher.  I love all the advice and feedback.  Students are constantly seeking this type of advice and I always want to make sure that I am aware of all the opportunities out there for them. Thanks!!
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: jpo on September 28, 2012, 01:43:59 PM
Also to add:  I do think Computer Science is a good choice these days... but with enough drive, you can learn computer science without even getting a degree. Once you get a single company to take a chance on you without a degree, your experience will speak louder than a piece of paper.  It's a possible route people can take if they're driven and debt averse.
Very much this. I learned as much in my internship as I did in class.

I would say find something in STEM.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: frugal_engineer on September 28, 2012, 07:09:26 PM
STEM!

As an engineer (mechanical) I can recommend two things to look for in your degree choice

1: Choose something (useful -aka STEM) that you actually like and have interest in, otherwise you will have infinitely more difficulty doing well
2: Find a school that emphasizes co-ops / internships

When I graduated with a BS and a Masters in ME after 5 years, I had 12 months experience working real jobs.  First, this makes your resume look better, which I'd call a mild advantage over a traditional degree program.  But most importantly, you'll have the real world experience to be able to contribute to your new job a lot faster than a fresh grad without any in-major work experience.

Finally, my feeling is that EE (maybe CE) is probably the best major from a financial perspective.  You get the circuit knowledge, which is always in demand, and you can also take the opportunity to specialize in programming and software if you so desire.  But, of course for actual fun during work, ME is the best!

EDIT:
I saw an article in Businessweek the other day that linked to this website which shows the average ROI for about 900 or so schools.  Interesting tool to check out when choosing an institution:
http://www.payscale.com/college-education-value
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: badassprof on September 28, 2012, 07:37:37 PM
I have to agree with Arebelspy regarding a liberal arts degree, although I admit that I'm bias on this front :)  But I do often tell my students this story:  my partner earned a BA in music and worked as a touring musician for much of his 20s. Then, around 27, he looked around and thought, do I want to tour for the rest of my life? I want a family, a home, etc.  Long story short, he did some research and decided to go into biotech because of its longterm prospects. His first job (found on Craigslist) earned him less than what he was making as a musician, but now, 10 years later, he is making 150,000+. 

Granted, he got into biotech in the late 1990s and we live in the SF bay area. There were opportunities here at that time that created a perfect storm. But I do believe, still, that smart, articulate people can get jobs, regardless of their degrees. It isn't easy and it requires some creativity, but I've seen people do it time and time again.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: JR on September 28, 2012, 08:25:40 PM
Skip college and get a dock worker job with a national LTL carrier (they will train you for your CDL at no cost).  While you are doing that save up and buy a dump truck.  Within four years of graduating high school you are an owner/operator dump truck driver making $100k+.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: StetsTerhune on September 29, 2012, 08:04:44 AM
I have to disagree with arebelspy on the liberal arts degree. Getting that first good job is largely dependent on your degree and luck. Once you get some experience in a good field, it hardly matters what your degree was, but minimizing the time to get that first job is incredibly important. When I was getting out of school it was certainly much easier to get your foot in the door without the "right" degree for a field, but I know a lot of 24 year old liberal arts degrees working at Whole Foods or day care centers.

As far as my ideal, I think it depends on what you mean by "mustachian." There are a some careers (programmers, engineers) with fairly high starting salaries, but less salary growth opportunity than others. While some start lower (accounting, actuarial) with lower starting salaries, but that are easier to break into management and earn more later. If you want to work for 10 years the answer is different than if you want to work for 25, I think.

And of course what you're interested in is still the most important thing by far.

**BTW, I was a double major in Math and Economics and felt like I could have landed a job in anything I wanted with that degree.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: sideways8 on September 29, 2012, 10:17:49 AM
Well, when my dad was still running his paving business he was pulling in more than a lot of surgeons... all on a high school education (on paper). He did, however, do a lot of self education. 

My mom did very well as a chemist. She got her chemistry degree going to night classes while working full time (AFTER having two kids). Superwoman for sure.

My sister is doing VERY well with her management of information systems degree (undergrad). When she was an intern still earning her degree, her pay was higher than mine when I started my current office job.

I have a bachelor's in music. Getting into it, I knew I was not bound for a life of excess. However, I manage to earn more than I need to get by. I currently work a day job in an office and teach during the evenings. While my degree isn't a get-rich-quick type degree, music is something I want to do forever. My idea of FI is being able to just do music and not have to sacrifice my time to a "day job." I really do want to teach lessons until I drop dead (hopefully not DURING a lessons).
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: cdngb on November 26, 2012, 10:03:35 PM
Nursing.  Especially for males.

Great above average income and benefits. 

Look at the demographics of the patients and the nursing profession.  A growth industry for sure.

A portable profession that allows you for relocation and flexibility of full or part-time work in hospitals, clinics, industry, government or education.  Ability to specialize in hospital departments, ie ER, EMERG or OB.. 

Great opportunities for those who are bilingual.

No need for an Ivy League education for access for the best jobs.

Uncle Sam always need nurses, ever watch MASH.  Good way to get your education paid for.



Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: YoungAndWise on November 27, 2012, 01:16:27 AM
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/cartographers-and-photogrammetrists.htm#tab-1

^Cartography is a rapidly expanding field. (aka Geography major)
Pay median is in $50k so that might help.

Best not necessarily the best but pretty rare so not a lot of competition within the major itself.

I'm planning to do this anyways.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: JohnGalt on November 27, 2012, 08:30:57 AM
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/cartographers-and-photogrammetrists.htm#tab-1

^Cartography is a rapidly expanding field. (aka Geography major)
Pay median is in $50k so that might help.

Best not necessarily the best but pretty rare so not a lot of competition within the major itself.

I'm planning to do this anyways.

I don't know much about the Cartography field specifically - but I do work in a field that puts me in contact with a lot of people with geography degrees (doing GIS work) and, unless they heavily picked up the programming side, most of them are stuck in their current positions with not much room for advancement. 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Gerard on November 27, 2012, 11:35:11 AM
I'm mostly with arebelspy on this one. But I accept that there are two main paths -- do something you like that teaches you to think, and then figure out your own FI path; or do something you quite possibly don't like, and do it (at school and work) for as short a time as possible to build up a big enough FI fund.

Also, it's not an all-or-nothing one-time high-cost decision. You can do more schooling later (maybe after/if the education bubble pops). You can change your mind. And you can use fairly-easy strategies to drastically reduce the cost of the degree in the first place.

I would say, never choose a programme based entirely on how fast it'll make you rich enough to retire. I work in a social sciences department, and we spend a lot of time picking up the pieces of people who did a "money" degree (often because their parents insisted) and absolutely hated it.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: grantmeaname on November 27, 2012, 12:37:31 PM
Quote
But I accept that there are two main paths -- do something you like that teaches you to think, and then figure out your own FI path; or do something you quite possibly don't like, and do it (at school and work) for as short a time as possible to build up a big enough FI fund.
Those are a totally false dichotomy. There are plenty of well-paying careers that teach you to think, and plenty of likable careers that pay well.

Besides, it doesn't really matter how jobs pay -- Jacob lives on like four dollars a year, and I saved over half my Americorps pay. What matters is how low you're willing to trim your expenses in order to retire.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: swiper on November 27, 2012, 05:16:55 PM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

I think that's nonsense. The original question asked what undergraduate degree gives the best ROI (assuming $$$). I agree with many of the CS/Eng/IT/Accounting suggestions. Clearly, these occupations:


If a 4 year undergrad degree is a life goal (there are many reasons beyond $$$) and all other factors being equal (future frugality, future job stress etc), these professions will get a better ROI and get you to ER/FI  (on average) faster than a liberal arts degree.

Now, if the question were asking: Given an undergraduate degree's "present vs future" income trade-off, is it still a net benefit to achieving ER/FI, I could understand your point. However,  I think that to fully answer that question one would have to know the OP's expectation of retirement living expenses, cost of school etc. Not so cut and dry.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Peter on November 27, 2012, 06:19:00 PM
If I had to do it again... I would skip university altogether and become a plumber or welder. I would work in the mining industry and make 120k/year to start by working my ass off. If that was too extreme, I'd be a plumber or welder in a nice city and make 60k to start, and live next to a college and take 1 course per semester in whatever I felt like, primarily to make college friends and meet girls.

What I did was get a Geotechnical Engineering degree, where I make 120k to start in the mining industry (or 60k in a cushy job in a nice city) after 5 years of school.

Clearly, alternate reality welder me is light years ahead of actual me. With 5 years of extra savings, job experience, and 50k less in tuition bills.

But it's not all bad. I can't even imagine how alternate reality Bachelors of Political Science me feels right now.  ;)
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Peter on November 27, 2012, 06:28:49 PM
I should add: One of the main reasons I didn't do this is because the following argument was fed to me from all directions as a teenager.

"That's all fine and dandy when you're 20 or 30, but when you get to be 40-60 you're really going to be ruined from doing all that hard labour."

 This advice is compelling, as it comes from both the 50 year old white collar guys who clearly are not ruined and affluent, AND from 50 year old blue collar guys who clearly are ruined physically and not quite as affluent ("stay in school, kid")

Neither of them of course consider the Mustachian way. Which if you can somehow start adhering to when you're 18, I feel strongly favours the blue collar route.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: StarswirlTheMustached on November 27, 2012, 07:30:09 PM
I'd agree with the line of advice I keep seeing: if you want FI fast, pick up a trade. You can read all the philosophy you want after work and once you're retired, so why pay for it? This from a fellow doing a PhD and whose wages come from a teaching assistantship. Trade work seems fundamentally more satisfying as well, at least to some people. (see "Shop Class As Soulcraft" and all the software guys and scientists who do carpentry etc as hobbies-- what does MMM do now that he can chose how to spend his time? It's not coding.)

That said, if you do want an undergraduate degree for whatever reason, I'd suggest CS, geology or engineering as your best bets. Geology if you like the great outdoors-- some of the best paying jobs are can be looked at as really long camping trips (though it seems like you end up hauling as much gear as a marine, and few enjoy that lifestyle). For engineering, mining engineering is your best bet in Canada right now, but it might be different in the USA. Unless you've already self-taught some programming, i wouldn't bother with CS; plenty of kids with a decade's experience already to compete with, and if you really liked it, you'd have done so.  Whatever you chose, under no circumstances are you to sign up for a program that does not offer co-op. For three reasons: 1) If you're mustashian with your money you can pay your way through, 2) You gain valuable job experience and invaluable network contacts, and 3) if there's no co-op, it's probably because they can't find enough jobs, and you don't want any degree for which that isn't the case.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: okits on November 27, 2012, 09:46:50 PM
But it's not all bad. I can't even imagine how alternate reality Bachelors of Political Science me feels right now.  ;)

At the risk of seeming insensitive to those having difficulty finding work related to their degrees, I just about died laughing reading that.  :)

One factor I'd like to add is that you not only need to consider the degree, but what you're going to have to do to get the money out of it.  Anything that keeps you from having a normal life (e.g. what time of day or days of the week you work, how much you work, how much you need to travel for work, being on call) should be factored in as negative compensation (just how negative depends on your own personal preference, but in my experience that kind of grind tends to wear people down.) 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: PJ on November 27, 2012, 10:00:40 PM
If I had to do it again... I would skip university altogether and become a plumber or welder. I would work in the mining industry and make 120k/year to start by working my ass off. If that was too extreme, I'd be a plumber or welder in a nice city and make 60k to start, and live next to a college and take 1 course per semester in whatever I felt like, primarily to make college friends and meet girls.

What I did was get a Geotechnical Engineering degree, where I make 120k to start in the mining industry (or 60k in a cushy job in a nice city) after 5 years of school.

Clearly, alternate reality welder me is light years ahead of actual me. With 5 years of extra savings, job experience, and 50k less in tuition bills.

But it's not all bad. I can't even imagine how alternate reality Bachelors of Political Science me feels right now.  ;)
 
Agree with okits ... this is one of the funniest posts I've read in these forums.  Perhaps alternate reality English Major you has a flourishing career as a humour writer?  Or alternate reality drama major is making a killing doing stand-up comedy?
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Gerard on November 28, 2012, 05:58:34 AM
Quote
But I accept that there are two main paths -- do something you like that teaches you to think, and then figure out your own FI path; or do something you quite possibly don't like, and do it (at school and work) for as short a time as possible to build up a big enough FI fund.
Those are a totally false dichotomy. There are plenty of well-paying careers that teach you to think, and plenty of likable careers that pay well.

Besides, it doesn't really matter how jobs pay -- Jacob lives on like four dollars a year, and I saved over half my Americorps pay. What matters is how low you're willing to trim your expenses in order to retire.

They're more like endpoints of a spectrum or two squares of a four-square matrix, I guess. But I do think it's useful to think in the terms I laid out, as many people making choices are going to have a more-money option and a more-satisfaction option. I'm lucky enough to have done degrees in stuff I really like and to have managed to land a decent-paying job, but I do think there's a "misery premium" built into some degrees and professions.

And I totally agree that's it's more about the saving than the degree. Starting with how you pay for the degree in the first place.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: EngGirl on November 28, 2012, 06:52:20 AM
I went with mechanical engineering, specializing in power generation. It's working well for me, especially because I went for a (relatively) cheap Canadian engineering degree. Four year degree, around $28k. At the big energy company here, you make $65k starting, and the average engineer makes around $165k by the 10 year mark (pretty good for Canada).

I agree with many of the posts suggesting that you should factor enjoyment into your decision. I personally am very inspired by power generation because it has a HUGE impact on the carbon footprint of our society. Getting involved means that I can really do something to help the environment. I love it so much that I don't want to retire (for now).
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on November 28, 2012, 07:26:25 AM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

I think that's nonsense. The original question asked what undergraduate degree gives the best ROI (assuming $$$).

And, like I said, the question of "Best Mustachian Undergrad Degree" (thread title) is irrelevant and immaterial.  FI is quite easily reached within a decade by any of them.

As others have said, skipping college and getting a trade is the fastest FI route.  But as far as best Mustachian undergrad degree?  Doesn't matter, pick one.

I think the question is more harming than helpful.  If you're picking a degree based on what earns you money fastest, you're asking the wrong question.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: swiper on November 28, 2012, 08:19:29 AM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

I think that's nonsense. The original question asked what undergraduate degree gives the best ROI (assuming $$$).

And, like I said, the question of "Best Mustachian Undergrad Degree" (thread title) is irrelevant and immaterial.  FI is quite easily reached within a decade by any of them.

As others have said, skipping college and getting a trade is the fastest FI route.  But as far as best Mustachian undergrad degree?  Doesn't matter, pick one.

I think the question is more harming than helpful.  If you're picking a degree based on what earns you money fastest, you're asking the wrong question.

I still think you are missing the main point here:  "quite easily reached" != "optimal". The original question implied constraints of taking a 4 year undergrad degree and was asking for the degree which gave the best ROI($$$). it wasn't a question of undergrad vs starting a business or trade school or leaving highschool early to work in an oilfield ...

Picking a undergrad degree is a complicated valuation. Personally, earning potential was one of the factors for me and it has worked out quite well. I stick by the assertion that if you are taking an undergrad degree and want to optimize your path to FI/ER your degree choice does matter and there is good advice in this thread for the OP.





Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: sherr on November 28, 2012, 08:30:03 AM
I would argue it's basically irrelevant/immaterial.

I think that's nonsense. The original question asked what undergraduate degree gives the best ROI (assuming $$$).

And, like I said, the question of "Best Mustachian Undergrad Degree" (thread title) is irrelevant and immaterial.  FI is quite easily reached within a decade by any of them.

As others have said, skipping college and getting a trade is the fastest FI route.  But as far as best Mustachian undergrad degree?  Doesn't matter, pick one.

I think the question is more harming than helpful.  If you're picking a degree based on what earns you money fastest, you're asking the wrong question.

I agree somewhat and disagree somewhat. How much money you will make is not the only factor you should take into account when choosing a degree. Enjoyment and aptitude are extremely important. However, how much money you will make is an important consideration when choosing a career. As for the "Doesn't matter, pick one" sentiment, I entirely disagree. I have seen too many of my friends spend a lot of time and money getting a degree that is worth very little, and pay for it for the rest of their lives. Yes it may be possible to achieve FI in almost any career, but it is a lot easier in some than in others.

To answer OP's question, I would second the recommendations in this thread for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree. The work is generally challenging and satisfying, and on top of that it pays well.

Personally I chose Electrical Engineering and do not regret that at all. Electrical Engineering is such a broad field that you can do practically anything with it. I now am working as a Software Engineer and enjoying it, and have found very little practical difference between my training and that of a dedicated Computer Science degree. Once you have the base understanding of how things work your success is driven off of your desire to expand you skills and learn new things, not the highly abstract and theoretical knowledge that universities like to dump on you.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: Matte on November 28, 2012, 09:03:21 AM
Engineering, anything that leads to oil and gas or energy and power generation.  Another thing to consider are highly technical trades instrumentation is a really good one, more of a field job but not back breaking, probably more like 3/4 inside to be honest.  Professional engineering is good too.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: skarn on November 28, 2012, 10:19:07 AM
This might be irrelevant as the top 1% are not necessarily FI, but the gist of this thread reminded me of this post

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/what-the-top-1-of-earners-majored-in/
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: cbr shadow on November 28, 2012, 01:13:49 PM
The best degree I know of is what my wife got.  It's a business degree called O.M.I.S.  Operations Management and Information Systems.  It's half business half IT.  Her sister also got this degree and now makes $175k at 32 yrs old.  My wife makes $100k at 28 yrs old.  School debt was paid off almost immediately after getting her first job (had a job lined up a month before graduating!).  I have an Industrial Technology degree which is a branch of the Engineering program at NIU (but much easier) and I found a job immediately after school which pays reasonably well I think ($54k).  If I could do it over again I'd get the same degree as my wife, or else a computer science degree.

I think the trick is to get into a good field (STEM) and also not overpay on your degree.  My wife, her sister, and I all sent to Northern Illinois University which was very inexpensive relative to the price of other schools.  We paid $7,000 / year.  I always hear about people not being able to get a job when they get out of school but then I find out they went to NYU for an art degree and now owe $200,000 and dont have any income.  Dont put yourself in that situation.

We also both worked during school and were frugal the entire time, which helped with not racking up a ton of student loans.  It's hard to watch my friends in school using extra loan money on $3000 Apple laptops knowing they'll probably end up paying $5000 for that laptop over the next 20 years. 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: mlipps on November 28, 2012, 03:07:55 PM
The best degree I know of is what my wife got.  It's a business degree called O.M.I.S.  Operations Management and Information Systems.  It's half business half IT.  Her sister also got this degree and now makes $175k at 32 yrs old.  My wife makes $100k at 28 yrs old.  School debt was paid off almost immediately after getting her first job (had a job lined up a month before graduating!).  I have an Industrial Technology degree which is a branch of the Engineering program at NIU (but much easier) and I found a job immediately after school which pays reasonably well I think ($54k).  If I could do it over again I'd get the same degree as my wife, or else a computer science degree.

My boyfriend has a BBA in Information Systems, so very similar to this program. He made $45k his first year out of school in rural WV, and is at $75k this year. (3.5 years experience) He went to a cheap in state public school, but on top of that did 2 years of high school at our local community college (free) and graduated with only 2 years at his 4 year university. Needless to say, we're paying off my student loans, not his...
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on November 28, 2012, 05:09:51 PM
I still think you are missing the main point here:  "quite easily reached" != "optimal". The original question implied constraints of taking a 4 year undergrad degree and was asking for the degree which gave the best ROI($$$). it wasn't a question of undergrad vs starting a business or trade school or leaving highschool early to work in an oilfield ...

Which, again, I believe is asking the wrong question.

As for the "Doesn't matter, pick one" sentiment, I entirely disagree. I have seen too many of my friends spend a lot of time and money getting a degree that is worth very little, and pay for it for the rest of their lives. Yes it may be possible to achieve FI in almost any career, but it is a lot easier in some than in others.

I think you misinterpret what I'm saying there.  I'm not saying pick one at random.  I'm saying pick one that is right for you, because one degree does not make one more Mustachian than another degree.  The answer to the question in the title of this thread is, IMO, "you can be equally Mustachian with any of them, there is no "Best" Mustachian Degree."

To answer OP's question, I would second the recommendations in this thread for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree. The work is generally challenging and satisfying, and on top of that it pays well.

I find it odd that you purposefully note aptitude and enjoyment in your post, then go on to recommend a STEM degree, which many are unsuited for.

That is why this is a silly question.  What if you are terrible at math and science?

A question of: "how do I hit FI quickest, regardless of other factors" makes sense to ask, even if I think it's a damaging question life-wise.

A question of "what is the best mustachian undergrad degree" just makes no sense.  It depends on you, the individual.

And by promoting the idea that you need a certain degree, it totally undermines what Mustachianism is, IMO.  Plenty of people give the complainypants excuse of not making enough money because they "chose the wrong major" - NO.  Your major is irrelevant to you being Mustachian or not.

Could you have made more money quicker in another field if you were able and willing to do that field?  Sure, and that's true of almost anyone.  Can you not be Mustachian because you didn't get a STEM degree?  Hell no.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: gooeydruid on November 28, 2012, 06:09:44 PM
Nursing.  Especially for males.

Great above average income and benefits. 

Look at the demographics of the patients and the nursing profession.  A growth industry for sure.

A portable profession that allows you for relocation and flexibility of full or part-time work in hospitals, clinics, industry, government or education.  Ability to specialize in hospital departments, ie ER, EMERG or OB.. 

Great opportunities for those who are bilingual.

No need for an Ivy League education for access for the best jobs.

Uncle Sam always need nurses, ever watch MASH.  Good way to get your education paid for.

Agreed. I graduated in 2008 and became an ICU nurse, cleared $55-$60k annually for the first 2 years.
About to graduate as a CRNA in 2 weeks and will be pulling $150k annually + bonuses.
Talk about ROI.
If I live as a cheapskate my wife and I could be FI from student loans and mortgage in like 6-7 years tops.
It was a long 7 years and grad school was brutal (& expensive), but all good things take work and sacrifice.

Beyond the pay, the job is awesome. I wake up in the morning looking forward to going into work (well, school, for 2 more weeks). Even if I won the lottery I would still work my day to day job. Can't put a price on doing something you love every day, and getting paid for it.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: swiper on November 28, 2012, 07:17:51 PM
I still think you are missing the main point here:  "quite easily reached" != "optimal". The original question implied constraints of taking a 4 year undergrad degree and was asking for the degree which gave the best ROI($$$). it wasn't a question of undergrad vs starting a business or trade school or leaving highschool early to work in an oilfield ...
Which, again, I believe is asking the wrong question.

Alright, I'm not going to flog a dead horse anymore. You can redefine the question as you like. Fortunately, the OP's got some good suggestions to further research in this thread.
 
To answer OP's question, I would second the recommendations in this thread for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree. The work is generally challenging and satisfying, and on top of that it pays well.


I find it odd that you purposefully note aptitude and enjoyment in your post, then go on to recommend a STEM degree, which many are unsuited for.

Silly me, I didn't realize enjoyment and math were mutually exclusive. Also seeing as "sherr" trained as an EE it might not be such an odd recommendation after all!
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: grantmeaname on November 28, 2012, 08:44:53 PM
Is it really necessary to go out of your way to be offended? He didn't say that you were lying about enjoying your career. He said that many were unsuited for it. Are you trying to be an ass, or just really obtuse?
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: swiper on November 28, 2012, 09:24:20 PM
Is it really necessary to go out of your way to be offended? He didn't say that you were lying about enjoying your career. He said that many were unsuited for it. Are you trying to be an ass, or just really obtuse?

I'm not offended and neither did I mean to offend anyone (if i did, i'm sorry for that).  I challenged the notion that enjoyment and a STEM degree can't go hand-in-hand in what I thought was a funny way.

In terms of being an "ass" or "obtuse", hmmm neither one, i hope.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: grantmeaname on November 28, 2012, 09:32:37 PM
No,  you're not really either. I just feel like we keep going around on this topic. Yes, plenty of people dislike their field, and plenty of people are in STEM. But since he's one of the ones arguing that there's not a one-size-fits-all approach to education, I'm pretty sure he wasn't saying that STEM is inherently unenjoyable.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on November 28, 2012, 10:33:29 PM
I love math, science, and technology.  Engineering I can give or take.  In fact, I'd have been a math major if I didn't do Philosophy.  But yes, I'm not arguing that STEM can't be enjoyable, or that people might not be suited for it, or that there can't be a happy intersection in the Venn diagram containing suitability and enjoyment of a STEM degree.

And if this is just targeted at the OP, then specific recommendations could be very appropriate.  But since this thread has over 2,000 views at the time of writing, I just wanted to bring up the counter point that I don't agree that there is a "best" Mustachian degree, or that STEM (or any one particular thing) is appropriate for everyone, and hope that others besides the OP reading this will take encouragement from that rather than discouragement that dozens of posts say STEM is the best Mustachian degree, and they aren't suited for that, so they give up.

And no offense taken, nor intended from me.  :)  I enjoy discussing these things frankly, and appreciate the counter-viewpoints.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on November 29, 2012, 12:25:09 PM
Since I'm the one who started this thread with my "silly", irrelevant question, maybe I should just remove it from this forum.  I thought this was a place to ask questions of other mustachians.  In the same way you can change the channel when you don't like a tv program, you can also choose to not post an answer if you don't like the question. I apologize to all of those I offended with my apparently irrelevant and silly topic.  But to all of those who took the time to offer their advice and stories, I truly appreciate it. 
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on November 29, 2012, 12:27:37 PM
Since I'm the one who started this thread with my "silly", irrelevant question, maybe I should just remove it from this forum.  I thought this was a place to ask questions of other mustachians.  In the same way you can change the channel when you don't like a tv program, you can also choose to not post an answer if you don't like the question. I apologize to all of those I offended with my apparently irrelevant and silly topic.  But to all of those who took the time to offer their advice and stories, I truly appreciate it.

I'm not sure why you're going out of your way to take offense at my comments, especially when the last post from me stated:
Quote
And no offense taken, nor intended from me.  :)

You are free to ask any question you'd like.  Apparently though once better not disagree, for risk of offending you.

/eyeroll

It's an interesting topic, like I said, but depends on the person rather than unequivocally stating "this is the best Mustachian degree."  YMMV, and try not to get offended if you don't agree.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: It Figures on November 29, 2012, 12:34:56 PM
You win, I've been silenced.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: grantmeaname on November 29, 2012, 04:12:11 PM
OP really showed us by quitting! That's the last time we ever mess with them.

I'm still confused what the offensive part was.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: arebelspy on November 29, 2012, 07:35:49 PM
Huh, that's too bad.  I'm not sure why my questioning the question was so offensive as well, and I'm sorry it was apparently enough to make the OP quit the forums.

If I offended anyone else, I really didn't intend to, just sharing my opinion on the question, feel free to take it or leave it.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: NWstubble on November 30, 2012, 12:51:27 AM
I should add: One of the main reasons I didn't do this is because the following argument was fed to me from all directions as a teenager.

"That's all fine and dandy when you're 20 or 30, but when you get to be 40-60 you're really going to be ruined from doing all that hard labour."

 This advice is compelling, as it comes from both the 50 year old white collar guys who clearly are not ruined and affluent, AND from 50 year old blue collar guys who clearly are ruined physically and not quite as affluent ("stay in school, kid")

Neither of them of course consider the Mustachian way. Which if you can somehow start adhering to when you're 18, I feel strongly favours the blue collar route.

I couldn't agree more. I received the same advice from the blue collar old timers and went the college route. However, I am trying to share the way of the mustache with my youngest brother who is just starting out and earning his living with his hands. Given his despise of consumerism and pop culture I think there is hope of proving this theory.
Title: Re: Best Mustachian Undergraduate Degree?
Post by: DoubleDown on November 30, 2012, 10:33:27 AM

If I offended anyone else, I really didn't intend to, just sharing my opinion on the question, feel free to take it or leave it.

My 2 cents, I don't think you were offensive at all. Keep putting out your valuable advice!