Jobs with a Math degree

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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bluebambue
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Jobs with a Math degree

Postby bluebambue » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:01 am UTC

Hi,

I'm a freshman in college right now, and thinking about majoring in math. However, I'm wondering what can be done with a math degree. Whenever I ask people they say it is very employable, but have trouble coming up with specific examples. Could people who have gotten degrees in math tell me what they have gone on to do with them?

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby margeman2k3 » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:15 am UTC

Become an actuary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary

It's basically risk assessment - insurance, pensions, etc.
It's based on things like calc, stats (about a quarter of my courses are stats courses), finance, economics and a few more.

It's pretty difficult to become an actuary, but it pays rather well.

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby btilly » Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:03 am UTC

Q: Why do people become statisticians?

A: Because they don't have the personality to become actuaries.

Anyways with that out of the way, math to actuary is easy. Math to programmer is easy. Law schools like people with math degrees. If you go to a top-notch school and fit in, Wall St likes people with math degrees for things like investment banking (insane pay and hours) and bond trading (great pay, incredibly difficult work). Lots of consultancies do as well (varying pay, a lot of work, good future employment opportunities).

If you have degenerate tendencies, a reasonable fraction of professional poker players have strong math backgrounds, including many who studied math.

And yes. I personally know people who have followed each of these courses in life.

Is that enough specifics?
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby skeptical scientist » Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:03 am UTC

Go into applied math, and work for anyone who has a use for your particular brand of applied math - e.g. drug companies for mathematical bio and various types of mathematical modeling. There are many uses for applied math/mathematical modeling in many industrial applications.

Go into financial math and do finance/investment banking. Investment banking firms are always looking for math/econ graduates to make them mathematical models which predict how to make lots of money.

Actuary is an option as the above poster mentioned.

Take a lot of statistics and do statistical analysis for anyone who collects data - this can be anyone from drug companies to insurance agencies to political pollsters.

Learn crypto and work for the NSA or other security agencies/corporations. Or learn anything computer-sciency and work for Google or any other tech company.

Of course, teaching is always an option, and there are undoubtedly dozens of others I didn't mention.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby mudge » Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:22 pm UTC

margeman2k3 wrote:Become an actuary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary

It's basically risk assessment - insurance, pensions, etc.
It's based on things like calc, stats (about a quarter of my courses are stats courses), finance, economics and a few more.

It's pretty difficult to become an actuary, but it pays rather well.


Boo!! Hiss!!

(sorry, I'm biased)

I don't know much about applied math, because it sounds about as appealing as drinking paint, but if you go into pure math, a lot of people will act like ALL you can do with it is teach.

Now, if you want to get paid to do pure math, you're going to be in a teaching position, that's true. But if you get your degree and don't want to go on to grad school, or just don't care about having a job in pure math, you'll have a degree that proves to people that you have very strong analytical skills. Basically, any job that has "analyst" in the title, you'll have a foot in the door. If there are other skills required, like programming, you might be disqualified on those merits, but for every job that requires every new hire has XYZ as a knowledge base, there's another employer out there who would prefer to have a noob so that they can teach THEIR preferred methodology without conflict. Very few college degrees are going to have you ready to work right out the door, and you're going to have to learn certain skills once you're on the job, and sometimes a brilliant hotshot with a degree in XYZ will be harder to deal with than a smart, motivated newbie. (For example, Mr. Hotshot comes in and starts telling all the old-timers how they SHOULD be doing things, not realizing the difference between theory and application, and that 20 years of experience has taught the old-timers where to twerk what. Very annoying)
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby Fedora » Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:15 pm UTC

With a bachelor's in mathematics, you are qualified in most states to teach high school level math. While it's not the most glorious job in the world, it is important, and there aren't enough qualified people willing to take the job.

Other than that, the above-mentioned jobs will all pay well. Advanced degrees will land you a high-paying job on Wall street. Software engineering is a good job, if you have the computer skills. Of course, if you go on to get a doctorate you can become a college professor!

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby bluebambue » Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:45 am UTC

Thanks for the replies everyone, especially skeptical scientist. They are very helpful. :D

Feel free to post more ideas and/or stories.

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby scarletmanuka » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:19 am UTC

Speaking from personal experience only, I started working on submarine sonar research (much less interesting than it sounds, and working for the government can be as big a hassle as everyone says it is - especially when you're working on an off-shore island with controlled access and no close public transport and you don't drive). I worked there for a couple of years, but research isn't really my sort of thing; I've been working for a finance company for the last five and a bit years, primarily in the IT department, currently in the Business Intelligence group as a data architect. My remit covers everything from the database schema to managing and maintaining the ETL processes that run our nightly data loads (the reporting side is not in my domain, though I help out from time to time; and I now have a minion to do some of the detail work on the ETL).

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:15 am UTC

+1 for finance and programming

i've also known maths grads (phds actually) going into hardware/system design so, to a certain extent you can do most things you can with a physics, EE, or comp-sci degree
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby Yakk » Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:04 pm UTC

What do you like about Math?
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby Minchandre » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:17 am UTC

Well, the largest employer of mathematicians in the world is the NSA, and they're supposed to have great benefits, so you might consider that.

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby bluebambue » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:20 am UTC

Yakk wrote:What do you like about Math?


I like how things work out nicely and think it's really cool all the things you can do with numbers. In generall I like learning concepts and figuring things out. I do worry about not being enough of a perfectionist, but I can probably learn perfectionist habits.

The reasons I'm thinking about math is that it is one of my favorite subjects (aside from chem), I don't like lab (generally), and it is an easy and flexible enough major time wise to give me time to dance (I dance a lot). Also, I feel like with chem my options would be more limited and I don't really know what I want to do in life yet.

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby ++$_ » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:23 am UTC

What's your specialty, within math? (If you've decided, of course.)

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:00 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:What's your specialty, within math? (If you've decided, of course.)


It'd be a strange fresher who's already decided a speciality. I'm 3rd year and I still haven't decided a speciality :P
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SimonM » Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:11 pm UTC

margeman2k3 wrote:
It's pretty difficult to become an actuary, but it pays rather well.


I would beg to differ. It depends entirely on the situation. By the end of this year (at 17) I will have amassed all the qualifications in order to work for a large Actuarial firm and would have little trouble getting a job (since they are crying out for people). It all depends on where you live.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby 3.14159265... » Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:55 pm UTC

Hey Simon
I was trying to do a similar thing, just to learn everything I would need to become an actuary just for the fun of it, but when I asked around they said I had to take the degree for it. Care to PM me with how you did that?
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby mudge » Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:25 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:Hey Simon
I was trying to do a similar thing, just to learn everything I would need to become an actuary just for the fun of it, but when I asked around they said I had to take the degree for it. Care to PM me with how you did that?


I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that he's not in North America

Also, it's not too difficult to become an actuarial student but to become a credentialed actuary involves roughly 9 exams (depending on what track you take) as well as some other professional development. Now, an actuarial student is someone who is in the actuarial department and actually has a job. Most of the people you would meet who introduce themselves as "actuaries" are in fact actuarial students and not credentialed.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby Yakk » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

bluebambue wrote:
Yakk wrote:What do you like about Math?


I like how things work out nicely and think it's really cool all the things you can do with numbers. In generall I like learning concepts and figuring things out. I do worry about not being enough of a perfectionist, but I can probably learn perfectionist habits.


Ok, so you like math that involves numbers. That is a relatively small subset of math. :) It is often known as "applied mathematics", and tends towards using differential equations, numerical methods, and the like.

The reasons I'm thinking about math is that it is one of my favorite subjects (aside from chem), I don't like lab (generally), and it is an easy and flexible enough major time wise to give me time to dance (I dance a lot). Also, I feel like with chem my options would be more limited and I don't really know what I want to do in life yet.


There tends not to be structured things like labs in mathematics -- even computer science tends to have unstructured labs at relatively low levels.

If you want a good mathematical education, it will be about learning how to figure things out for yourself, as well as learning about what has already been figured out. Proofs, programs and solutions to problems where the steps haven't been told to you before are the key steps to becoming a mathematician.

Being able to remember all of the facts, theorems and tricks that they provide you is useful, but it isn't the only goal.

So you are entering a discipline where you are expected to come up with creative solutions to problems, yet both the solution and the method you create your solution from are important and can be checked and can be simply wrong.

There are branches of mathematics that are more numbers oriented, branches that are more abstract, branches that mix the two. There are sections that are experimental, sections that are proof oriented, and sections that are tool oriented.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SimonM » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:05 pm UTC

mudge wrote:
3.14159265... wrote:Hey Simon
I was trying to do a similar thing, just to learn everything I would need to become an actuary just for the fun of it, but when I asked around they said I had to take the degree for it. Care to PM me with how you did that?


I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that he's not in North America


I expect that is part of it, but mainly I think it is just company policy in certain companies.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby mudge » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

SimonM wrote:
mudge wrote:
3.14159265... wrote:Hey Simon
I was trying to do a similar thing, just to learn everything I would need to become an actuary just for the fun of it, but when I asked around they said I had to take the degree for it. Care to PM me with how you did that?


I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that he's not in North America


I expect that is part of it, but mainly I think it is just company policy in certain companies.


I think it has quite a bit to do with it. I was told it would be VERY exceptional to get hired to an actuarial department without a degree (even with several exams passed). Personally, I think it's a bit silly, and I'm glad you found an opportunity. Although, college is pretty fantastic. Err. University.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SimonM » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:24 pm UTC

mudge wrote:I think it has quite a bit to do with it. I was told it would be VERY exceptional to get hired to an actuarial department without a degree (even with several exams passed). Personally, I think it's a bit silly, and I'm glad you found an opportunity. Although, college is pretty fantastic. Err. University.


I agree, I am going to spend 3 or 4 years at university studying maths (mainly because I love the subject so much). and I don't see what's to gain by going straight to work, long term I think the experience is worth it.

Also, it may be exceptional to be hired without a degree, but that doesn't mean that its a requirement, just an indicator of the competition.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby margeman2k3 » Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:22 am UTC

SimonM wrote:
margeman2k3 wrote:It's pretty difficult to become an actuary, but it pays rather well.

By the end of this year (at 17) I will have amassed all the qualifications in order to work for a large Actuarial firm and would have little trouble getting a job


All? Okay, I'm going to assume for a second that you live in North America.
How many of the SOA/CAS exams have you passed?
And by "all the qualifications" do you include SOA/CAS/CIA membership (CIA is the Canadian actuarial society)?
Do you have a math degree already?

I really hope this doesn't come across as sarcastic or angry, but I do have a bit of difficulty believing you simply because having membership and a degree at 17 is pretty impressive.
(Can you expand on what you mean by qualifications?)

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SimonM » Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:26 pm UTC

margeman2k3 wrote:All? Okay, I'm going to assume for a second that you live in North America.


As I have said above, I am not in the US. And secondly, those are the qualifications to join a company who I would work for whilst they put me through the actuarial exams.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby bluebambue » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:38 am UTC

Yakk wrote:Ok, so you like math that involves numbers. That is a relatively small subset of math. :) It is often known as "applied mathematics", and tends towards using differential equations, numerical methods, and the like.



out of curiosity, what type of math doesn't involve numbers?

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby btilly » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:56 am UTC

bluebambue wrote:
Yakk wrote:Ok, so you like math that involves numbers. That is a relatively small subset of math. :) It is often known as "applied mathematics", and tends towards using differential equations, numerical methods, and the like.



out of curiosity, what type of math doesn't involve numbers?

There are lots. For instance you'll find fairly few numbers in topology, graph theory, or the study of C*-algebras.
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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby margeman2k3 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:41 pm UTC

SimonM wrote:
margeman2k3 wrote:All? Okay, I'm going to assume for a second that you live in North America.


As I have said above, I am not in the US. And secondly, those are the qualifications to join a company who I would work for whilst they put me through the actuarial exams.


Ah, sorry. I must have missed that...

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby epostma » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:53 pm UTC

I'm a maths PhD and am working for Maplesoft currently. Both research and programming, but of course no teaching involved. Well, in a sense all math communications are teaching, in a way, but no formal teaching.

I wish you much wisdom in your choice (meaning I secretly hope you'll choose math :P ).

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Re: Jobs with a Math degree

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:56 pm UTC

bluebambue wrote:
Yakk wrote:Ok, so you like math that involves numbers. That is a relatively small subset of math. :) It is often known as "applied mathematics", and tends towards using differential equations, numerical methods, and the like.



out of curiosity, what type of math doesn't involve numbers?


Most of it :lol:

I'm in my 3rd year of a maths degree, and I don't think I've taken a subject greatly involving numbers since first year. In first year, I took Number Theory, and even that didn't involve too many numbers except primes. And I think in Foundations, we proved things like "the set of natural numbers has the same cardinality as the set of rationals" and "there are infinitely many primes".
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