Employment in Mathematics

What Can I Do With a Major in Mathematics?

After graduation a mathematic major might take a job that uses their math major in an area like statistics, biomathematics, operations research, actuarial science, mathematical modeling, cryptography, or mathematics education. Or they might continue into graduate school leading to a research career. Professional schools in business, law, and medicine appreciate mathematics majors because of the analytical and problem solving skills developed in the math courses.

Studying Mathematics develops such skills as critical thinking, oral and written communication, arguing logically and rigorously, thinking abstractly, formulating and solving problems, analyzing data, analyzing mathematical models, quantitative and computer proficiency, and the ability to work both alone and in groups.

The data from the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE entrance exams all support the advantages that math majors have in these areas. According to a recent National Science Foundation survey of college graduates, most mathematics majors go on to careers in business, industry, and government. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provides accurate information on the opportunities in mathematics. The mathematics professional organizations the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) all have career pages.

The UF mathematics curriculum is flexible enough to allow the student to choose a variety of courses in a secondary area. Mathematics is a discipline, not a single career. But with a judicious choice of electives, the mathematics curriculum at UF can prepare you for any of these careers. Follow Course Recommendations for some suggestions about how to do this.

 Actuarial Science

Actuaries analyze risk and come up with solutions to manage risk. Actuaries often work in insurance firms or within the managerial teams for their employers, and the position is very well-paid. The career requires a strong background in mathematics. Information about actuarial science can be found at the websites Be An Actuary and Society of Actuaries. The actuarial science minor at UF is offered through the Statistics Department.

Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics is the mathematical underpinning of engineering and industrial applications by the analysis and computer simulation of various mathematical models as they arise in real world situations. The successful application of mathematics to a practical problem usually entails three phases:

  • formulating the problem in mathematical terms
  • solving the problem in an analytical or numerical form
  • interpreting the results back to the original problem

An applied mathematician should be skilled in each of these phases and should also have an interest into the area in which mathematics is applied. More information on careers in applied mathematics is available from Society for Industial and Applied Mathematics.

Economics

Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources. Resources include the time and talent people have available, the land, buildings, equipment, and other tools on hand, and the knowledge of how to combine them to create useful products and services. Economists use their mathematical knowledge to solve real world problems every day. The breadth of study in economics is incredibly wide, and can include finance, business, statistics, management, marketing, and academic work. Information on careers in economics is available from the American Economic Association.

Mathematical Finance

Careers in mathematical finance place students into investment banks, hedge funds, asset management companies, financial software and data companies, and insurance companies, with roles in financial modeling and software development, model, market, credit, and operational risk management, asset valuation, trading desk support, trading, and portfolio management. A solid background in probability, partial differential equations, and real analysis has now become essential in many finance positions.

Mathematical Biology

Biomathematics combines the use of both biology and mathematics to discover new answers to the questions posed by biologists about the nature of living organisms. Mathematical biology involves the application of physical principles to biological systems. Applying mathematics to biological systems leads to the construction of mathematical models. These mathematical systems attempt to represent the complex interactions of biological systems in a way simple enough for their consequences to be understood and explored mathematically. Mathematical biology is as diverse as biology itself.

Education

Students interested in teaching mathematics in secondary education should check out the UFTeach program. Teaching certification involves several components: a degree in a mathematics related area, practical mentored teaching experience, education classes, and a passing score on the state certification exam.

Schools employ teachers at all levels of education to teach math, from the first grades of primary school all the way up into college. It can be a profoundly rewarding job, and currently math teachers are in very high demand. Resources for prospective teachers

Operations Research

Operations research analysts formulate and apply mathematical modeling methods to assist management with policy and managerial functions. Operations research analysts today are employed in almost every industry to effectively manage money, materials, equipment, people, and time. They use sophisticated software tools to solve complex problems as ordinary as setting up schedules for sports leagues or determining how to organize products in supermarkets. Analysts help to allocate resources, measure performance, schedule, design production facilities and systems, manage the supply chain, set prices, coordinate transportation and distribution, or analyze large databases. The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORM) provides a list of frequently asked questions for a successful career in OR.

Statistics

Statisticians help design experiments, collect, analyze, and interpret numerical data from experiments and surveys. Statisticians often use samples to collect information. A sample provides information about a small group within a much larger group. They can then take what they learned about the small group and apply it to the larger group. Statisticians decide where and how to gather data, choosing the sample size, and the best type of survey. They determine how to gather the data, process and analyze the data. The American Statistical Association (ASA) has a career page which describes the many opportunities available to statisticians.

Software Engineering

Software engineers design, construct, test, and maintain software and systems. They also solve any problems that arise. They must possess strong programming skills and the ability to develop algorithms and solve problems. Software engineers often work as part of a team that designs new hardware, software, and systems. A core team may have engineering, marketing, factory, and design people who work together until the product is done.

Graduate Study

Many mathematics majors choose to continue studying in graduate school. There are many different types of graduate programs for which a major in math is good preparation. Some choose to go in another area like like those listed above while others will choose to continue their mathematics studies in graduate school in mathematics. Their goal may be getting an advanced degree in applied mathematics and working in industry or they may be planning to become a college teacher or professor.