If you enjoy solving puzzles and have a good head for numbers, you might be interested in a career as a mathematician. These workers use equations to solve both academic and real-life problems. Theoretical mathematicians use equations to develop new rules, disprove existing mathematical theories, or create new ones. They may develop methods to solve problems emerging from science and engineering fields. They often work for research firms or teach math and conduct research at colleges and universities. Applied mathematicians address an almost endless variety of problems, from making aircraft more aerodynamic, to programming models for a video game, to designing and deciphering encryption systems for the military and financial industries. Applied mathematicians work in industry and government, dealing with robotics, pharmaceuticals, space exploration, and more! Despite the differences between applied and theoretical mathematics, these areas often overlap. Many mathematicians, particularly those in government or private industry, use both applied and theoretical knowledge in their job duties. Mathematicians, however, are a relatively small occupation. Most people with a degree in mathematics or who develop mathematical theories and models work in related fields and professions, such as information technology. Some become math teachers in a middle school or high school. This typically requires a math degree and a teaching credential. Government jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in math. For private industry jobs, a master's degree or Ph.D. is usually expected, and in academia, a Ph.D. is needed. So, is this challenging career in a fast-growing field the right choice for you? You do the math.
What they do:
Conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science, management, and other fields. Solve problems in various fields using mathematical methods.
On the job, you would:
Address the relationships of quantities, magnitudes, and forms through the use of numbers and symbols.
Disseminate research by writing reports, publishing papers, or presenting at professional conferences.
Maintain knowledge in the field by reading professional journals, talking with other mathematicians, and attending professional conferences.
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Arts and Humanities
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
Education and Training
teaching and course design
using math to solve problems
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
listen and understand what people say
read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
use rules to solve problems
quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
IBM SPSS Statistics
The MathWorks MATLAB
Object or component oriented development software
doctoral degree or master's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.