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The Employment Outlook for Interesting Math Careers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 21% employment growth rate from 2014–24 for mathematicians, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
A great benefit of studying mathematics in college is the variety of career paths it provides. Most math careers go far beyond just crunching numbers. They are interesting and challenging---and they pay well.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for mathematicians in 2016 was $105,810.†
Mathematicians are in demand in many fields, such as the following:
They analyze statistical data to determine the potential risk of events and they also evaluate the financial implications.
Actuaries provide recommendations on insurance rates. Actuaries apply mathematics, especially probability and statistics, to the insurance industry. They study types of data such as accident, mortality, disability, sickness, and retirement rates. They also create probability tables to forecast liability and risk for payment of future benefits. Actuaries also ascertain rates needed and cash reserves required to ensure payment of future benefits.
Actuaries need a strong background in math, statistics, and business. Many actuaries have a bachelor's degree in math or statistics. The BLS forecasts a 27% employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for actuaries, faster than average for all occupations.
Biomathematicians utilize mathematics to solve problems in biology, usually by creating a model of a biological system.
Biomathematics includes bioinformatics. Those in biomathematics model biological and natural processes utilizing mathematical techniques and tools. Their results are applied to areas including epidemic modelling, cellular neurobiology, and population genetics. The techniques of genetics and molecular biology produce a huge amount of data; in order for individuals to properly use the information, they need efficient algorithms.
The federal government is the largest employers of biomathematicians. They also work at universities, biotechnology firms, biomathematical research groups, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals/medical centers, in public health, and for scientific and technical consulting services.
The BLS forecasts a 17% employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for mathematical science occupations. Rutgers University reports theoretical/mathematical biology is booming and provides promising possibilities for mathematicians; they also report that mathematical modeling methods have become increasingly important in all branches of biology.
Biostatisticians apply statistical theory and mathematical principles to epidemiology, research medicine, environmental science, public health, and other subjects. They design studies, gather data, and evaluate the data to address health concerns. Biostatisticians in the pharmaceutical industry perform research and clinical trials for new treatments and medical technologies.
Biostatisticians usually need a bachelor's degree; master's degrees are common but not required. Many biostatisticians have a bachelors's degree in statistics or math. According to the American Statistical Association (ASA), biostatisticians with advanced degrees have excellent career opportunities in government agencies, industry, and academia. They work in a variety of human health and environmental fields.
The increasing awareness of environmental and human health issues has increased the demand for biostatisticians. The booming pharmaceutical business is also increasing the demand for them.
Cryptographers specialize in cyber security. They look for factors which make software vulnerable to hacking; they also help create solutions, including inscription to prevent hacking.
According to the BLS, many cryptographers have formal training in mathematics or applied mathematics. Cryptography includes the security of ATM cards and computer passwords.
Cryptology professionals need to be strong in statistical analysis and mathematical concepts, as well as have a strong background in technology. The large data encryption and security field is growing in size. Crypto professionals also work in the field of digital forensics.
Many mathematicians work for the federal government, mainly in the U.S. Department of Defense.
Some mathematicians working for the federal government work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Another branch of the federal government that utilizes many mathematicians is the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Operations Research Analysis
Operations research analysts utilize advanced methods of analysis to assist companies in solving problems and making better decisions. They improve business practices by evaluating factors such as labor requirements, cost effectiveness, product distribution, and other factors involved in day-to-day operations.
According to the BLS, employers prefer candidates who have completed advanced math courses. These jobs require strong quantitative and computer skills. Employers also prefer candidates who have the ability to use advanced operations research software and statistical packages.
The BLS forecasts a 22% employment growth from 2008 to 2018 for operations research analysts---much faster than the average for all occupations.
James Madison University reports the huge growth in quantitative finance has led mathematicians and students of all levels to think about a career or an advanced degree in quantitative finance.
Complicated math modules, as well as the computational methods and skills required to implement them, are utilized to support investment decisions, to develop and price new securities, and to manage risk, as well as for portfolio selection and management.
Individuals with a degree in statistics analyze data in the fields of biological science, medicine, the environment, computer software engineering, economics, education, psychology, and other fields.
The BLS forecasts a 12% employment growth for statisticians from 2008 to 2018, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Technological advances are expected to increase the demand for statisticians.
According to the American Statistical Association, statisticians are in high demand in a wide array of fields. The BLS reports those with a master's degree in statistics and a strong background in an allied field, such as biology, computer science, finance, or engineering, should have the best chances of getting a job related to their field of study.
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Here is a list of some of the organizations, research institutions, and companies which hire mathematicians:
- Aerospace and transportation equipment manufacturers
- Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Communications service providers
- Computer service and software firms
- Consulting firms
- Electronics and computer manufacturers
- Energy systems firms
- Engineering research organizations
- Federally funded contractors
- Financial service and investment firms
- International government agencies
- Medical device companies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Producers of petroleum and petroleum products
- University-based research organizations
- U.S. government agencies
- U.S. government labs and research offices
†US Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians.htm ⮭