Natural Science Division
Careers in mathematics

Careers that do not involve a graduate degree

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has updated information about the job situation for math majors. Even if you do not wish to pursue graduate work, there are many options for a math major in industry, government, and education.

  • Teacher If you like to give back to your community and serve kids, teaching mathematics at the secondary school level can be very rewarding. Every year, roughly half of the positions advertised for secondary school teachers in math go unfilled. Schools are desperate for caring, qualified math majors.
  • Computers: Perhaps the most popular and among the most lucrative jobs for math majors is in the computer industry. Since computer programming is very mathematical, it makes sense that many math majors do very well in it; but math majors are qualified to address more fundamental issues in the design of the project and in creating new algorithms for new problems. Furthermore, many issues in computers like computer graphics, compression of pictures and sound for the web, and setting up networks (to name a few examples) involve a great deal of mathematics, and as a result, many computer companies specifically hire math majors.
  • Engineering: Many of the same reasons that math majors end up in the computer industry also apply to fields of engineering. Engineering involves a great deal of math, and as a result, many engineering firms hire math majors. Your training in math will prepare you to quickly learn the specific issues in a new field, and your creative problem solving skills will be a strong asset to the engineering firm.
  • Biotech: There has been a great deal of interest in mathematical biology because of many recent breakthroughs in studying DNA and proteins. Many biotech companies hire mathematics majors because of the high (and growing) mathematical content of the field.
  • Cryptography: From the U. S. National Security Agency to a smaller company doing commerce on the web, the demand for mathematicians that can understand the number-theoretic issues in cryptography is great.
  • Actuary: Among the highest-paid professions are actuaries, who compute the statistics behind life insurance tables and other related tables. More information is at http://BeAnActuary.org/. You can find listings of actuarial jobs at http://www.actuaryjobs.com, a site hosted by D.W. Simpson Actuarial Search.
  • Statistician More generally, the proliferation of statistics in everything ranging from business to government has brought many organizations to seek math majors. Find out more at http://www.amstat.org/education/careers.html.
  • Government Most branches and agencies in the U. S. government use mathematicians, for the reasons mentioned above. Particularly noteworthy are the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the General Accounting Office.
  • Finance Most financial companies hire mathematicians to study financial models and make predictions based on statistical evidence. As an example, here is a list of jobs for math majors at J. P. Morgan.
  • Management Management consulting firms look for individuals who can quickly find the root of a problem, and find creative and effective solutions, and critically choose from among many options. As a result, math majors are in particularly high demand from management consulting firms like McKinsey and Co.
  • Others More information can be obtained at http://www.ams.org/careers. There are profiles of individual careers at http://www.maa.org/careers/index.html.

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