Careers in Mathematics

One of the oldest and most significant of sciences, the field of mathematics has grown increasingly popular throughout the last decade. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, mathematicians held approximately 2,900 jobs in 2008. In addition, there were about 54,800 jobs for postsecondary mathematical science teachers that very same year. A study conducted in 2009 showed that that top three best jobs in terms of income and variety were careers geared towards mathematics majors. Professionals in this field enjoy a wide range of jobs as engineers, economists, teachers, professors, actuaries, political scientists, and computer programmers. These types of jobs require the use and application of mathematical theory, theoretical and applied mathematics, computational techniques, algorithms, modeling, and the computer technology in order to solve economic, scientific, engineering, and business problems.


Statistics is the science of collection, analysis, and representation of data. Statisticians contribute to scientific inquiry by utilizing and applying their mathematical and scientific background to the design of surveys and experiments, the collection, processing, and analysis of data, and the interpretation of the conclusion and results. Statistical methods may be applied to a wide variety of subject areas, such as biology, education, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, and sports. In addition, this field of mathematics is central to economic, ecological, social, political and military decision-making and policy.  In particular, the insurance industry employs a high number of statisticians. These professionals, known as actuaries, are responsible for computing insurance rates.

Successful statisticians enjoy the analysis and application of complex data in order to find solutions to problems. They are well-equipped to provide crucial guidance in determining what information is reliable and which predictions may be trusted. Travel opportunities to conferences and conventions are readily available for statisticians who seek to advance the fields of statistics, mathematics, and probability through education and research.

American Statistical Association

Overview on Careers Involving Statistics

Careers Involving Probability and Statistics

Careers in Statistics: Possibilities and Opportunities

Mathematical Modeling

A mathematical model is the use of mathematical language to describe the behavior of a system. Mathematical models are used extensively in scientific fields, such as biology, electrical engineering, and physics as well as the social science fields of economics, sociology and political science. In mathematical modeling, mathematicians write down equations in order to describe the behavior of a real world system. These systems apply to a wide variety of fields and industries. For example, financial companies hire mathematicians to study financial models and make predictions based on statistical evidence. In physics or engineering, mathematicians may analyze how heat is dissipated through the heat shield of a space vehicle. In economics, modeling may be used in order to predict how a strike in the automotive industry will impact other parts of the economy.

Mathematical Modeling: Simulation and Analysis

Certificate Program in Mathematical Modeling in Political Science and Economics

Mathematical Modeling at Humboldt State University

Computer Science

The computer industry provides a variety of professional opportunities for mathematic majors. When applied to computer science, the field of mathematics includes topics such as formal logic notation, proof methods, induction, well-ordering, sets, relations, elementary graph theory, integer congruencies, asymptotic notation and growth of functions, permutations and combinations, counting principles and discrete probability. In addition to proficiency in computer programming, math majors learn how to address the more fundamental issues involved in the creation of new algorithms. Complex and advanced applications of computers such as creation of computer graphics as well as video and audio signals involve a high level of in-depth mathematics. As a result, many computer companies specifically recruit and hire mathematics majors.

Computer Science Careers

Computing Research Association

MIT Open Course Ware: Mathematics for Computer Science

Mathematics in Computer Science

Journal of Computer Science

Journal of Computer Science and Technology

Research and Teaching

In order to become a professor of mathematics, five years or more of graduate school and a PhD are typically required. Then often comes two to three years of postdoctoral training. Mathematicians who desire a career in academia apply for tenure track positions at a college or university. Depending on the institution, academic jobs involve a mix of teaching, research, and service. Among the major mathematical research topics currently being explored are Inverse Problems, Image Creation, Logic and CPU Testing, Protein Activity, Prime Numbers, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Weather and Climate Simulation, and High-Dimensional Data Sets.

In addition to university appointment, mathematics majors who desire to teach at the secondary level may do so after receiving their teaching certificate, which takes about a year to complete. Those who teach mathematics often instruct science courses as well.

Journal of Mathematics Research

Journal of Scientific and Mathematical Research

Mathematical Association of America

National Science Foundation: An Overview of Mathematics Research

National Council for Teachers of Mathematics

Research in Mathematics Education

Classical Applied Mathematics

The field of Applied Mathematics uses theories and techniques in order to analyze and solve practical problems in business, government, engineering, and the physical and social sciences. These mathematicians may analyze the most practical and efficient way to schedule airline routes between cities, the effects of new drugs, or the cost-effectiveness of alternative manufacturing processes. These professionals are frequently required to collaborate with other workers in their organizations to find common solutions to problems. They often are part of interdisciplinary teams that include economists, engineers, computer scientists, physicists, and technicians.

Stanford University’s Classic Papers in Applied Mathematics

History of Classical Applied Mathematics

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Journal for Applied Mathematics

Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems

Journal on Financial Mathematics

Software Engineering

It is essential for those considering a major as a computer software engineer to be prepared to begin college with a flexible and open mind about their future careers. With the rapid development and expansion of technology, jobs in software engineering are constantly evolving. The scientific and mathematical undergraduate (and graduate) background well-prepare professionals to enter this field. However, similar to other computer majors, professionals need to be ready and willing to learn and constantly apply new knowledge in order to keep up with the latest advancements in technology. In addition to taking a wide range of science and computer courses, software engineers must master a variety of specific mathematics, including Discrete Math, Mathematical Modeling, Iteration Invariants, and Mathematical Reasoning.

Association for Computing Machinery

IEEE Computer Society

Introduction to Mathematics for Software Engineering

Mathematical Reasoning in Software Engineering Education

Software Engineering Society

Additional Resources

Duke University Handbook for Mathematics Majors and Minors

UCLA Department of Mathematics

MIT Mathematics

MAA Math Classifieds


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