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Math Careers, Jobs and Training Information

  • Besides in the federal government, mathematics usually requires education with at least a Ph.D. degree.
  • Because employment is projected to contract due to a decrease in the number of mathematician jobs, there will be intense competition for the few job openings.
  • Individuals with substantial experience in mathematics and a related area, like computer science or engineering, and obtain a PhD or Master’s degree; should have the upper hand when looking for employment.

Math Career Overview

One of the oldest and most essential sciences is mathematics. Mathematicians, while utilizing mathematical theory, computational procedures, algorithms, and up-to-date computer programs; solve several kinds of problems dealing with economics, science, engineering, physics, and business. Mathematicians’ work is divided into two large classes. They are theoretical or pure mathematics and applied mathematics. These classes are not distinctly defined and may often overlap.

Theoretical mathematicians increase mathematical knowledge by creating novel principles and discovering unknown correlations or relationships between principles in math that are already in use. Such further knowledge is found without thinking about the practicality of its use; however, these abstract ideas have been influential in generating or furthering numerous scientific and engineering accomplishments. Several theoretical mathematicians work at universities where half of their time may be spent teaching and the other half spent researching.

Conversely, applied mathematicians utilize theories and procedures, like mathematical modeling and computational methods, to find solutions and formulas to business; government; engineering; and physical, life, and social science problems. Some of the following are examples of their work: finding the most proficient airline flight schedule, analyzing the consequences and safety of the latest drugs, evaluating the aerodynamic characteristics of an experimental car, or reviewing the efficiency of other techniques to manufacture products. Applied mathematicians who labor in industrial research and development may create or expand mathematical methods while finding a solution to a complicated problem. A few mathematicians, which are called cryptanalysts, examine and translate encryption systems made and used to transmit code messages with military, political, financial, or law enforcement information.

Applied mathematicians begin with a realistic problem, get in their minds the distinctive elements in the solving process, and finally decrease the elements to mathematical variables. To analyze associations among the variables and solve intricate problems, they usually use computers and create models with other solutions.

A majority of the work in applied mathematics is performed by others with differing titles than mathematician. Due to the fact that mathematics is the basis for so many other academic areas such as computer science or engineering, these mathematic techniques are performed by far more professions than just the number of formally-titled mathematicians. Professions that use math at length include engineers, computer scientists, physicists, and economists. A few professionals, such as statisticians, actuaries, and operations research analysts, are really mathematicians with a specified focus. Often applied mathematicians may be required to team up with other related workers to find solutions to certain problems.

Training and Job Qualifications for Mathematicians

Besides in the federal government, mathematics usually requires education with at least a Ph.D. degree. Those looking for Entry-level job in the federal government typically must obtain a 4-year degree in mathematics or an equivalent of a 4-year mathematics degree. This involves taking 24 hours worth of mathematics classes.

Those looking for mathematician jobs in a private industry typically need a master’s or Ph.D. degree. The majority of the positions held for mathematicians are part of technical teams in laboratories for research and development. Research scientists in such positions employ either in fundamental research on pure mathematical principles or in applied research on creating or bettering certain products or processes. Surprisingly, most of those who hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in mathematics and who work in private industries do not work in mathematics. They work in similar fields such as computer science, and may have titles of computer programmer, systems analyst, or systems engineer.

Most colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree. Courses in math typically necessary for this degree include calculus, differential equations, and linear and abstract algebra. On top of these, other courses might involve probability theory and statistics, mathematical analysis, numerical analysis, topology, discrete mathematics, and mathematical logic. Several colleges and universities recommend or demand math majors to enroll in courses in a similar field, such as computer science, engineering, life science, physical science, or economics. To several employers, a double major in mathematics plus another related area is especially pleasing. Those high school students considering mathematics as a major in college should try and take several math courses while still attending high school.

Approximately 225 colleges and universities provided Master’s degrees in either pure or applied mathematics in 2003, while approximately 200 provided a Ph.D. degree in pure or applied mathematics. Students who continue on to graduate school usually perform research and take more difficult courses, most often focusing on a field within mathematics.

It is imperative for jobs in applied mathematics to have training in the field where the mathematics will be used. Several fields use mathematics to a large degree; these include physics, actuarial science, statistics, engineering, operations research, computer science, business and industrial management, economics, finance, chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences. Because the majority of complex mathematical are computed on the computer as well as a lot of mathematical modeling, mathematicians should also have a good amount of computer abilities.

In order to recognize, examine, and use basic principles in solving technical problems; mathematicians must be able to reason and endure through long problems. Communication skills are also essential because mathematicians have to interact and converse about possible solutions with those who do not have the advanced knowledge that they have.

Job and Employment Opportunities in Math

Because jobs are limited, competition is intense. Through 2012, employment of mathematicians is anticipated to decrease as a result of a reduced number of jobs with mathematician as their title. Nevertheless, better opportunities will go to those with master’s and Ph.D. degree who have substantial experience in mathematics and a related field, such as engineering or computer science. Several of these workers obtain titles associated with what they do, such as systems analyst, as opposed to the title of mathematician which only tells about their primary educational background.

Improvements in technology typically cause expansion in mathematics, needing an increased number of knowledgeable workers in mathematics in the future. On the other hand, industry and government jobs usually necessitate superior knowledge of related scientific areas on top of mathematical knowledge. The most frequent line of work in which mathematicians learn and find employment include computer science and software development, physics, engineering, and operations research. Additionally, an increased number of mathematicians are also becoming occupied with financial analysis. Mathematicians will be forced to compete with people who obtain degrees in these other areas. Candidates who find the most success will have the ability to apply theories of mathematics to real-life conflicts, and will develop good skills in communication, cooperation, and computers.

Private industry jobs call for a minimum of a master’s degree in mathematics or in another related field. Those with bachelor’s degree in mathematics typically are not capable for the majority of jobs, and several continue their education to obtain advanced degrees in mathematics or a related field. Nevertheless, those with bachelor’s degree who do pass State certification standards may become math teachers in primary or secondary schools.
Those with a master’s degree in mathematics will run into intense competition for theoretical research opportunities. Several of these graduates will need to become employed in industry and government jobs because the number of Ph.D. degrees granted in mathematics persists to surpass university positions’ availability.

Historical Earnings Information

In 2002, median annual salaries of mathematicians were $76,470. The mid 50 percent received between $56,160 and $91,520. While, the lowest 10 percent received less than $38,930, the highest 10 percent received more than $112,780.

Available starting salaries averaged $40,512 annually for mathematics graduates with a bachelor’s degree, and $42,348 for individuals with a master’s degree, according to a 2003 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Further, doctoral degree candidates’ salaries averaged $55,485.

Early in the year 2003, the salaries for mathematicians working for the Federal Government in supervisory, nonsupervisory, and managing positions averaged to be about $80,877. Mathematical statisticians made about $83,472 and cryptanalysts made about $78,662.