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

English language

Engineering and Technology

computers and electronics

Education and Training

teaching and course design

Basic Skills

using math to solve problems

thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem

Problem Solving

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

Math

choose the right type of math to solve a problem

add, subtract, multiply, or divide

Verbal

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

Visual Understanding

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:

Analytical Thinking

Attention to Detail

Persistence

Achievement/Effort

Innovation

Initiative

You might use software like this on the job:

Analytical or scientific software

IBM SPSS Statistics

Minitab

Presentation software

Microsoft PowerPoint

Object or component oriented development software

C#

Perl

doctoral degree or master's degree usually needed

Get started on your career:

New job opportunities are less likely in the future.