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Best Jobs for Math Majors

August 18, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Math has a central role in almost every field, including science, technology, aviation, finance, communication, medicine, and many others. A better question may be, what can’t you do with a math degree? Many knowledge-based careers require competency and aptitude in mathematics and quantitative reasoning. These careers also require you to possess various logical problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and decision-making. 

There are many career opportunities for math majors, from accounting to engineering, economics, and data analysis. This article helps you understand the career options you have with a math major and other math-related courses. 

Educational Requirements for A Math Degree

Math is considered a language of science. Everything in the field of science revolves around mathematics in one way or another. You won’t find any science-related topic that does not incorporate math, from biology to physics and chemistry. Accordingly, mathematics is a critical component in various fields and is key to predicting and interpreting data to make informed decisions. 

The educational requirements for a math degree are based on mathematics disciplines. Other scientific topics may also be welcomed since they offer an additional dimension to your studies. 

The more you look into a math major, the more you realize how many requirements there are. You probably know you need to take plenty of math classes, but you may not know exactly what to expect. Typically, an undergraduate degree has different educational requirements when compared to a master’s degree or a Ph.D., which is why we have looked at every degree type separately to offer a 360-degree look into what you need to know about being a math major. 

Educational Requirement for Associate Degree in Mathematics

An associate degree program in math is a stepping stone into the world of mathematics. This degree often covers introductory parts of math. After completing an associate’s degree, you can advance your education to pursue other degree types, like a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and finally, a Ph.D. Accordingly, this degree offers you the opportunity to broaden your education into any other STEM discipline at an advanced level. 

The courses you take for an associate’s degree in math cover basic education in topics such as algebra, geometry, and statistics. These topics are the first step you need to realize your dreams of becoming an accountant, economist, or math teacher. However, you may need more than an associate’s degree to land one of these jobs.

These are the courses to expect if you want to earn an associate’s degree in math:

  • Calculus I through III
  • Linear Algebra
  • Differential Equations
  • Statistics I and II
  • Discrete Math
  • Pre–Calculus

Educational Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics

Most bachelor’s programs, including those in math, are 120 credits and take about four years to complete. Some schools offer accelerated options, which can be completed in three years. Bachelor’s programs incorporate introductory topics and work up to more complex areas as you progress through the program. You can also specialize in many fields, such as business, computer science, and probability. 

A bachelor’s degree in math is a comprehensive program that opens the door to many career opportunities. With a bachelor’s degree in math, you qualify for many jobs, including political analysis, census taking, statistics, and accounting, and any other role that requires competence in math. However, you may need an advanced level of education to get higher positions with greater earning potentials. 

Math classes you can expect when studying for a bachelor’s degree in math include:

  • Analysis of Ordinary Differential Equations
  • Applied Partial Differential Equations
  • Computational Thinking and Doing
  • Formal Mathematical Reasoning and Writing
  • Introduction to Abstract Algebra
  • Theory of Complex Variables
  • Theory of Statistics
  • Vector Calculus

It is also important to note that you can opt for a bachelor’s of art (BA) in mathematics or a bachelor’s of science (BS) in mathematics. These programs have similar educational requirements. They all require you to take a mathematics major, supporting classes from related fields like computer science and specialization courses. 

However, they also differ in some areas. For instance, a BA program requires that you take additional humanities classes. On the other hand, a BS program is science-focused and includes compulsory lab requirements. 

Educational Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Mathematics

A master’s degree in math can take very different forms and vary significantly according to your specialization. You may need between 24 and 90 credits to complete this program for one to two years. However, you can also pace your studies according to your commitments. For instance, you can opt for a more flexible option by pursuing a master’s degree in math online. Some programs can combine an undergraduate degree with a master’s degree into a single five-year unit, which is an excellent combination for people who want to further their education and save money in the process. 

A master’s degree in math allows you to focus on your chosen specialization, combining your career ambitions with coursework. Accordingly, a master’s degree in math qualifies you for many high-paying jobs in various fields, such as applied mathematics, actuarial science, and data analysis. If you pair the program with a proper teaching course, a master’s degree in math can also earn you a teaching certificate in any state. 

Here are some courses to expect when choosing a master’s degree in math:

  • Analysis I and II
  • Numerical Analysis
  • History of Mathematics
  • Metric Spaces
  • General Topology
  • Modern Algebra
  • Theory of Functions of Real Variables

Like a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in math also has an option for masters of art (MA)or masters of science (MS). A master of science program will require science-based topics, while a master of art focuses on humanities and liberal arts. A master of science may include math-related courses, such as scientific computing and data science. On the other hand, a master of arts may be excellent for people who want to pair it with educational coursework. 

Educational Requirements for a Ph.D. in Mathematics

A Ph.D. in math is the most in-depth and advanced degree program you can earn. The program typically takes five years, and some programs are divided into two sections. The first section consists of two-year coursework, and the second is a three-year program focused on a dissertation. You should consider a Ph.D. in math only if you are interested in making research advances in your specialization field. A Ph.D. in math program is a research-intensive degree course.

This degree program is mandatory for anyone who wishes to bear the title of a professor. Accordingly, it offers an added advantage in the job market. A Ph.D. in math covers various courses such as:

  • Differential Geometry
  • Advanced Numerical Analysis
  • Differential Topology
  • Mathematical Logic
  • Applied Ordinary/Partial Differential Equations
  • Real Analysis
  • Complex Analysis
  • Set Theory

Types of Jobs for People with Math Degrees

Math is applicable in almost every industry. There is nowhere you can’t go with a math degree. You will find math occupations in every field, from medicine and technology to business, science, and many more. People with advanced math competence are highly desirable and in-demand professionals in the current job market. 

There are not many job postings for theoretical mathematics professionals directly. However, every field requires mathematical skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and data analysis. Almost every problem can be solved using a math concept. 

Math professionals have developed logical and decomposition skills. Additionally, they are organized and can easily tackle challenging problems, making them excellent choices for many industrial applications.

Mathematics majors broaden into two distinct career paths. Some candidates may choose to work in academia, filling roles like researcher or professor. Some may focus on diverse industry roles. As much as both tracks are rewarding, many people choose the industry roles over academia. 

Industry roles diverge into many career opportunities, and there are seemingly endless options, depending on individual interests. Individuals with advanced degrees in math with specialization in technology may work as computer programmers, software developers, and data scientists. Accordingly, those with business specialization may end up as accountants and financial analysts. Others work as medical scientists if they choose to pursue a medical career. 

Here are the top-ranked jobs for people with math degrees. 

  • Auditor
    Auditors are responsible for examining and preparing financial records. They also check financial statements for accuracy and explain their findings to various stakeholders. Internal auditors are professionals within an organization tasked with reviewing company finances, looking for any mismanagement, and identifying ways to eliminate fraud and improve accountability. External auditors are contractors employed by an organization to conduct the same processes, only without being a direct employee of the company. Information technology auditors review the use and control of computer systems.   
  • Data or research analyst
    Data or research scientists apply their advanced math and analytical skills to help organizations investigate complex issues and identify ways to solve problems. They also help in making strategic and data-driven solutions. These professionals often use statistical tools and methods to analyze and interpret data before preparing reports for the management. Their findings are essential in communicating business trends, patterns, and predictions that help businesses make successful plans. 
  • Computer programmer
    Computer programmers use their math and science skills to write and test computer codes, applications, and software programs. They also update the existing program, check and fix program errors, such as computer viruses and malware. These professionals are often versed with computer knowledge and computer languages, such as Java and C++, and Java.
  • Medical scientist
    These professionals are excellent at forming hypotheses and developing scientific experiments. They examine clinical errors and trials to investigate various issues. For instance, those who perform cancer research may study different drugs that slow cancer growth in multiple organs. To be a medical scientist, you must have a strong science, physical sciences, and math background. 
  • Financial analyst
    These professionals use their math skills to investigate investment opportunities in various organizations, such as banks, security markets, insurance companies, and pension and mutual funds. They also evaluate current and historical financial data, study economic and market trends, and meet top executives to gain better insight into a business’s prospects. There are many options for a financial analyst, such as funds management, rating analysis, risk analysis, and portfolio management. 
  • Statistician 
    These professionals work in various fields, including engineering, business, and science. They apply and develop math theories and methods for problem-solving. Statisticians design surveys, experiments, and opinion polls to gather information. They then study and interpret this data and report their findings. Statisticians may collaborate with chemical engineers to analyze the efficacy of various drugs. 
  • Actuary 
    An actuary uses math, statistics, and financial theories to analyze the economic costs of uncertainties. These professionals also help organizations develop strategies to minimize such costs. This role is essential in insurance companies that require experts with advanced knowledge and skills in statistics, software modeling, math, and business. 
  • Economists
    Economists use their math-related knowledge to study trends around the production and distribution of goods and services. They collect and analyze data, trends, and economic issues. These professionals play a prominent role in many fields, such as health, business, and education.
  • Software developers
    Software developers develop computer software programs. They study user requirements to design, test, and build software that meets those needs. There are many types of software developers. Some specialize in developing computer and mobile applications and systems software. Others specialize in developing systems that optimize computer performance. In addition to having skills in math and critical thinking, software developers also need extensive experience in computer programming.
  • Data scientist
    These professionals design and build data sets for process modeling, data mining, and process productions. Additionally, they interpret data and experiments involving data to develop prototypes, algorithms, custom analysis, and predictive models. 

If you thought that math majors’ jobs are limited, think again. Math skills can open doors for a wide range of career opportunities. After all, math is involved in almost every industry. Math knowledge is particularly essential in in-demand fields like technology, science, and engineering. A solid grasp of math makes you a hot commodity in many industries and depending on your specialization, you may have many career options to choose from.

Salary and Benefits

If you are considering a math degree, it makes sense that salary and other benefits would be part of the equation. Contrary to what many people think about mathematics, a math degree can lead to many career paths with various accompanying benefits and lucrative salaries. There is a reason why many reputable organizations, like the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes, and The Economist, rank math as one of the top degree majors for earning potential. 

However, it is essential to note that not every career you get with math competence is equally profitable. Some employers pay math professionals considerably more than others because some professions require extensive education in math and other related fields. Salaries and benefits also depend on your level of education and experience. 

The average salary for a mathematician or statistician is $84,760. However, your role in the industry determines how much you earn. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for anyone with a title statistician is $84,060. On the other hand, mathematicians have an average wage of $103,010 per year. Some of the best-paid mathematicians earn north of $133,720 per year, while the least paid mathematicians earn an average of $50,660 annually.

The difference between the highest-paid and the least paid may make you wonder how to prepare for a top-paying role as a mathematician. The industry you work in has a role to play in those figures. The best industries to get into for a high-paying salary are management, scientific and technical consulting, scientific research and development, and computer science

Mathematicians who work with the federal government also earn high wages. The finance and insurance industries also have better-paying jobs for mathematicians. The least paying industry is academia, with an average annual salary of $56,320. Unfortunately, academia is the industry that employs most mathematicians in the United States. 

Mathematician and statistician are not the only roles you can get with a math degree. Math majors can work in almost every industry, and some other occupations include actuary and operations, research analyst. 

An actuary is among the best-paying careers that require math competency. The occupation commands an average annual salary of $101,560, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An actuary applies advanced math skills and business knowledge to evaluate the financial cost of risks in the finance and insurance industry. 

An operations research analyst applies math and analytical skills to improve business operations and other profit-oriented and not-for-profit organizations. The occupation commands an average annual salary of $81,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professionals in the federal government may earn up to six figures. 

A less lucrative option for a mathematics degree is pursuing elementary and secondary school level education. High school math teachers earn an average annual wage of $59,170. On the other hand, middle school teachers earn $57,720, while elementary school teachers get $57,160. Most schools require formal education in teaching and managing a classroom and teaching license. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that mathematician is one of the smallest occupations in the United States, commanding only 3,100 employees, with applied mathematics being the least. This area of expertise is a niche market, which means math major is an in-demand area, considering all math-related jobs. 

Benefits of A Math Major

Earning a degree in your intended career path is a great way to improve your earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most jobs require a master’s degree in math for better earnings. Therefore, you should invest more years in your studies to increase your paycheck. 

Government agencies are one area with jobs open for people with a bachelor’s degree in math, and higher earning potential comes when you have a doctorate in the same setting. However, most people with a Ph.D. in math prefer working in colleges and universities with very few private sectors. 

Actuaries and operations research analysts often need a bachelor’s degree with additional credentials and experience. For instance, actuaries need numerous exams to be fully certified. On the other hand, operations research analysts often need a background that includes military services. 

You can boost your earnings potential and job-related benefits with the knowledge and skills gained in undergraduate programs. It’s a good idea for math majors to take advantage of non-math classes while in college. Taking communications classes or computer programming classes, for example, can help meet future career goals. Other areas such as life science, business, and physical sciences are recommended for math majors who wish to improve their earning potential after graduation. 

Math internships and seminars also offer valuable experience and networking opportunities to help you get a job with lucrative salaries and benefits.  

A math major also helps you develop the following skills:

  • construct logical arguments and expose illogical arguments
  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving
  • time management
  • analytical thinking
  • ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas
  • communication
  • quantitative reasoning
  • teamwork
  • independence

These skills are critical in many ways. For instance, every job requirement must always include at least one skill listed above. Others may require more than one. Therefore, possessing these strengths makes you more marketable in your pursuit of employment. 

Typical Career Path of a Math Major

An undergraduate math major offers a foundation for prospective students who wish to understand different problem-solving approaches using mathematical techniques. A master’s degree broadens your career prospects. Additionally, math economics majors allow students to pursue various careers related to mathematics, statistics, and economics. 

Math can be challenging, but it is also rewarding and fun. The subject is both logical and creative for people who choose to pursue it. Accordingly, it offers students a wide range of career options. 

A math major prepares you for the traditional pursuit of careers in almost every field. Students who study math can also combine a math major with a pre-professional curriculum or science or engineering major for an added advantage in the job market.

A math economics major offers the opportunity for students to get employed in the finance sector. 

As discussed earlier, you can choose to pursue a math degree with either an art or science option. The mathematics arts option combines math knowledge with liberal arts for career opportunities in fields, like humanitarian organizations and theoretical mathematicians. On the other hand, the math-science option combines the study of math with statistics and computer sciences. This option opens doors to career opportunities in the world of science, engineering, and technology. 

Accordingly, some people may prefer to take a math minor while majoring in other fields. This option boosts your employment chances and earning potential. 

Career opportunities for math majors are unlimited. With math competence, you can choose to pursue a career in education, business, science or technical field, or any other discipline. Accordingly, you get employment in the private or public sector. Some typical career paths for a math major include: 

  • accountant
  • doctor
  • government research and laboratories
  • market researcher
  • government
  • theoretical mathematician
  • statistician
  • actuary
  • banking
  • space/aircraft industry
  • computer programmer
  • engineer
  • investment manager
  • lawyer
  • mathematician
  • numerical analyst
  • systems analyst
  • teacher

You can also combine a math major with various subjects for broader career prospects. For instance, you can combine a math major with economics, engineering, or any other related field. In this case, you open doors for more than just a math-related career path. In many ways, employers like broad combinations because it helps integrate various skills required for solving problems in multiple areas. 

With the ever-increasing importance of the economy’s service sector, a math major is a valuable degree. The program allows you to exploit various opportunities and fascinating career ideas. 

The finance sector is one of the areas that require math competence. To be successful in this industry, you need the following skill:

  • Competence in Math and Statistics
  • Skill in problem-solving 
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Capacity to work with various teams 

A strong foundation in math and business, especially economics and finance, is essential in the current job market. A math major is designed to prepare students to go directly into employment with in-demand skills. A math degree prepares you to begin a career in all the above-listed professions. Other careers for a math major include:

  • Economist   
  • Actuary
  • International Trade Specialist  
  • Bank Examiner  
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Financial Analyst  
  • Marketing/Sales Manager
  • Financial Planner    
  • Investment Manager
  • Real Estate Investor
  • Management accountant
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Professor

In Summary 

Math experts are in-demand professionals across every industry in the current economy. Studying math gives you access to many lucrative career opportunities in sectors you may not have known existed for a math major, such as medicine and law. However, there are many careers related to math majors in the business, science, and technology worlds. Math graduates often have multiple job offers from these sectors and earn more than the average annual wage for other fields. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that math-related jobs are rising, with the industry producing very few professionals. This discrepancy should motivate you to consider a math major and take advantage of the employment situation. Just ensure that you enroll in the best higher learning institution that offers accredited programs. 

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