Mathematics Majors have a great variety of career options in business, education, academia, and government. The professional societies offer a wealth of information on their websites.
Here are some of the many disciplines that Mathematics graduates find challenging and rewarding employment opportunities in:
- Operations Researchers use statistics, linear algebra, stochastic modelling and analytical skills to find optimal solutions of complex decision-making problems. Financial modeling, marketing, manufacturing, simulation, and public policy are often involved. Start with INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Societies).
- Actuary - use statistics to predict changes in the marketplace; most commonly applied to finance, investment, insurance, and pension funds. See, for example, Be An Actuary from the Society of Actuaries. Related fields include Economics andFinancial Mathematics.
- Math Teacher - there are lots of options here, including primary, secondary and college. A teaching credential is usually required to teach in a public school, and a Masters degree to teach in community college. See, for example, Teach For America.
- Machine Learning deals with learning from data, with the intent of being able to make intelligent predictions based on new data after having received some set of training data. It relies heavily on statistical data analysis, classification, probability theory, graph theory, algorithms, and analysis. Start with AAAI, IEEE Careers, and the ACM Job Center
- Computer Vision uses statistics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, geometry, learning theory and physics to convert raw data into symbolic form that represents human-readable visual images. It is a multi-disciplinary subject that lies at the interface of math, physics, engineering, neurobiology, and computer science. Start with AAAI, IEEE Careers, the ACM Job Center, or Computer Vision Central Roboticsand Artificial Intelligence are closely related disciplines.
- Mathematical Biologists use a combination of deterministic (e.g., differential equations) and stochastic theories to develop mathematical descriptions of processes in living organisms. Mathematical biologists work at the interface of multiple disciplines, notably mathematics, biology, computation, physics, and bio-engineering and often work in teams with specialists in other fields. Mathematical Biologists are often Computational Biologists and vice-versa. For more information see the Society for Mathematical Biology.
- Computational Biologists use mathematical models to perform biological experiments in-silico. Bioinformaticians develop and utilize tools for the storage and retrieval of biological data, often using advanced statistical and computational techniques. For more information see the International Society for Computational Biology, and bioinformatics.org
- Astrodynamicists perform satellite orbit mission design for NASA and various commercial organizations. Tasks include design and maintenance of satellite orbits, maneuver design, and the specification of satellite orbits to meet specific scientific observational requirements. They may work with Space Systems Analysts who evaluate telemetry data in real time from satellites to determine satellite health, develop satellite command loads, and develop and implement fault recovery procedures in the event of operational failures. Both of these jobs require the types of strong analytical skills that Mathematicians strive to develop. On-the-job-training is usually provided since these skills are not taught in universities. See JPL Career Launch or American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for more information.
- Many mathematicians go on to become successful Business consultants,Attorneys, or Physician. It is the analytical skills that you take with you to these new disciplines, though it is often possible to leverage mathematical knowledge as well, particularly operations research, financial mathematics, mathematical modeling, statistics, in these areas.
- Math Professors are probably most familiar to you as teachers but that is just part of their job. Other responsibilities include doing research and service to the community. The amount of time available to do research will depend on the type of college you teach at. In community colleges there is little to no time for research. In a comprehensive university (like CSUN) faculty spend the bulk of their time devoted to instruction, typically with only one or two days per week available for research. In a research oriented university (like UCLA) the roles are reversed, with faculty typically teaching one to three classes per year. Thus depending on your particular interests you should be able to find a school that allows the balance that fits your needs. Math Professors may be pure or applied mathematicians, applied mathematical scientists, specialists in mathematics educationor work in one of the disciplines. They often do interdisciplinary research because other researchers value their ability to clearly analyze and explain problems. See mathjobs.org
What Employers Really Want
In a recent survey by the AACU (Assoc. of Amer. Coll. & Univ.) major employers indicated that your major is only secondary. What they really want includes:
- Ethical judgement and integrity (96% of employers agreed)
- Comfort working with individuals (clients, colleagues, customers) from diverse cultures (96%)
- Intellectual and inter-personal skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace (95%)
- Demonstrated capacity for continued professional development (94%)
- Capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, & solve complex problems is more important than major (93%)
- A broad, interdisciplinary skill set (93%)
- Community service (75%)
- Knowledge of global culture, history, values, religions, and social systems (55%)
As to what they expect you to learn in college they would like to see the same or more of:
- Ability to analyze and solve complex problems (94%)
- Ability to apply your knowledge to real-world settings (94%)
- Critical thinking/analytical reasoning (93%)
- Effective oral communication skills (92%)
- Effective written communication skills (92%)
- Ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information (91%)
- Connect choice and action to ethics (91%)
- Innovation and creativity skills (91%)
- Teamwork and collaboration in diverse settings (89%)
- Significant project during college (79%)
- Internship during college (78%)