The moment a student completes his/her 10th Boards and decides to take up Science as his/her stream, he/she has to make the tough choice of choosing either Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics (PCM) or Physics, Chemistry, Biology (PCB) as career after 10th for the next two years. The student is even more confused with the plethora of suggestions that are bombarded on him/her from all quarters, be it parents, relatives or peers. Some who want to have a number of options available to them after 12th or are just plain adventurous, decide to opt for both Mathematics and Biology(PCMB). We are here to debunk the old myths and help you decide what suits you best in a very objective take on “career after 10th”. Of course, our focus will remain on the age-old debate of Engineering v/s Medical as these, till date, remains the most popular and lucrative career options for students of PCM and PCB respectively.
Students who want a career in engineering or quantitative sciences for themselves generally take up PCM whereas students interested in medical or biological sciences take up PCB. Only those students who are comfortable with mathematics should opt for PCM. Now in the current scenario, engineering can be completed in four years and then you can expect to get a job if you are from a decent enough college.
Doctors need to not only complete five years of basic medical study but mandatorily pursue MD or MS (almost an unsaid rule) to compete in today’s world. Some doctors choose to go for super-specialization as well. It is almost 10-11 years of toil before you get to settle in a comfortable position. That being said, doctors tend to stay doctors for most of their lives whereas 40-50% of engineers switch to other career options. India produces 15 lakh engineers compared to only 50,000 doctors every year. Given the constant shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, they are likely to be in demand always whereas there are thousands of engineers graduating every year who are completely unemployable because of various reasons. Of course, the quality of engineers varies a lot if we compare students graduating from IITs and NITs with those from local colleges.
Truth be told, for any career in Sciences outside of medical, PCM makes more sense as it gives entry to everything other than medical. As a PCB student, you can choose to be a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, microbiologist or a pure biological sciences researcher.
With PCM, you can opt for the various branches of engineering like Computer Science, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical etc. or architecture or statistics or pure mathematics based on your interests.
After your graduation, you can even choose to pursue MBA or sit for the Civil Services Examination, which although even doctors do nowadays but are a lot rarer than for engineers. Early career salary would be better for PCM students and you would be able to rise to higher positions in your career much sooner than your PCB counterparts, who would most likely choose to go for the Medical route, which requires many years of study to establish oneself.
Income Generation in Future
A lot depends on how good you are at what you do. There are ample opportunities to earn a lot for both PCM and PCB students. Computer Engineers are recruited by some of the biggest firms in the world such as Google and Facebook. If you decide to go for an MBA, your options are limitless. You can go for diverse fields, from Investment Banking to Management Consulting to Supply Chain Management, all of which are known to offer very handsome pay packages. With a PCM background, you can become a Data Scientist. Data Science has been voted as the most lucrative career option of this century and its demand is only rising with every passing year.
With a PCB background, you can become a doctor and doctors have always been and will, in all probability, remain some of the highest-earning professionals in the world. With a perennial shortage of doctors in India and the continuous surge in health and lifestyle problems, doctors shall always be in demand. You can set up your practice in any part of the country or work on a salary in a hospital. The more specialized you are, the more highly paid you are. While engineering jobs get hit by a downturn in the economy, diseases shall always exist and the skills a doctor possesses shall always be needed.
From a pure Engineering v/s Medical perspective, to be utterly honest, the competition is much fiercer in the latter for the simple reason that there is a mismatch in demand and supply. As stated earlier, it’s 15 lakh engineers vis-à-vis only 50,000 doctors every year. There are far more colleges for engineering than for medical sciences and that makes it easier to get into engineering than medical. PCM students have far more options to choose from than PCB students as far as career is concerned, thus making the competition for the number of seats and career options less aggressive. This maiden reason, over the years, has answered the burning question “What to do after 10th” for hundreds of students across India.
Although it holds true for any profession, there is a difference in work-life balance for engineering v/s medical. If you want to make great money as a doctor, you would have to put in a lot of time and effort. Emergencies can crop up any moment and you can be called at any hour of the day or night. There is a lot of pressure on doctors because of their kind of work, which deals with actual lives of people.
For engineers and other professions that follow PCM, the workload can differ from job to job but they generally have much more regularized timings. Of course, PCB students can opt for professions such as pharmacy or research in biotechnology, microbiology etc. which offer better work-life balance.
However, remain ready for a tank of things to remember if PCB is your education after 10th!!
Cost of Higher Education
The cost of higher education for both PCM and PCB depends on a lot on the location from which you decide to pursue it. In general, government colleges are far more affordable than private colleges for both Engineering and Medical, as they receive grants from the government and the education is subsidized, although the admissions procedure is far more competitive too. Government institutes like the IITs and NITs offer quite affordable engineering education. Moreover, Masters and Doctorate students get stipends too. If you pursue your MS in engineering from a Scandinavian country or Germany, you have to pay zero tuition fees. On the other hand, you would have to pay anything from tens of lakhs to even some crore rupees as fees for an MS or MBA from the UK or the USA.
Medical education is also very expensive but in India, it is one of the cheapest in the world, especially if it is government-subsidized. While medical education from some private institutes can cost up to a crore rupees or $150,000 nowadays, government institutes offer the same for a lakh rupees or $1500-$2000, making it quite affordable for the middle-class. The same education in the US would have cost $200,000 to $300,000.
At the end of the day, whatever you choose to do, make sure you are the best at that. There are various possibilities for both PCM and PCB students. Although we have listed the pros and cons of both, students need to weigh their aptitude against their aspirations and decide what would be the best fit for them. Everyone has his/her own financial expectations and way of looking at life. Success, fame and social impact are possible with anything you do. Do not succumb to parental or peer pressure. Only introspection and clear thinking can help you make the right decision because it is not just one job that we are talking about but an entire career. One decision, one moment can make or break it. We wish you all the very best and hope your choice takes you to new, unimaginable heights of success.