Careers / Mathematics Careers

Mathematics Careers


Mathematics teaches patience, discipline, and step-by-step problem-solving skills. For those with a substantial background in mathematics, an unlimited number of career opportunities are available. Even if you do not choose a career specifically in the mathematical sciences, studying as much mathematics as you can is a good way to keep your career options open. Mathematics is an excellent foundation for, and is usually a prerequisite to, study in all areas of science and engineering. Students in sciences such as: anthropology, sociology, meteorology, and psychology, as well as those in professional schools such as law, business, and medicine, benefit from a solid background in mathematics and statistics. This foundation helps to better understand science and technology and their effects on our world.

Jobs in applied mathematics:

For jobs in applied mathematics, training in the specific field in which mathematics will be used is very important. Mathematics is used extensively in physics, actuarial science, statistics, engineering, and operations research. Computer science, business and industrial management, economics, finance, chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences are likewise dependent on applied mathematics. Mathematicians also should have a solid knowledge of computer programming, because most complex mathematical computation and much mathematical modeling are done using programs coded by mathematicians.

Mathematicians also need logical reasoning skills to identify, analyze, and apply basic principles to technical problems. Communication skills also are important, because mathematicians must be able to interact and discuss proposed concepts and solutions with people who may not have extensive knowledge of mathematics.The majority of individuals with a master’s degree in mathematics usually find work in related fields where they are able to apply their mathematical background, such as computer science, where they have titles such as computer programmer, data analyst, or systems engineer.

Nature of the work:

Mathematics is one of the oldest and most fundamental sciences. Some even describe it as the proverbial building blocks for engineering and science. Mathematicians use mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms, and the latest computer technology to solve extremely complex economic, scientific, engineering, and business problems. The work of mathematicians typically falls into two broad classes: theoretical (pure) mathematics and applied mathematics. These classes, however, are not sharply defined and sometimes overlap.

Theoretical mathematicians advance mathematical knowledge by developing new principles and recognizing previously unknown relationships between existing principles of mathematics. Although these workers seek to increase basic knowledge without necessarily considering its practical use, such pure and abstract knowledge has been instrumental in producing or furthering many scientific and engineering innovations. Many theoretical mathematicians are employed as university faculty, dividing their time between teaching and conducting research.

On the other hand, applied mathematicians utilize the theories and techniques (developed by theoretical mathematicians), such as mathematical modeling and computational methods, to formulate and solve practical problems in business, government, engineering, and the physical, life, and social sciences. An applied mathematician may analyze the most efficient way to schedule airline routes between cities, the effects and safety of new drugs, the aerodynamic characteristics of an experimental automobile, or the cost-effectiveness of alternative manufacturing processes.Applied mathematicians working in industrial research and development may create and enhance mathematical methods when solving a difficult problem. For example, some mathematicians, called cryptanalysts, analyze and decipher encryption systems—codes—designed to transmit military, political, financial, or law-enforcement-related information.

Individuals with titles other than mathematician also perform duties in which applied mathematics is needed. Some professionals, including statisticians, actuaries, and operations research analysts, are actually specialists in specific branches of mathematics.In fact, because mathematics is the foundation on which so many other academic disciplines are built, the number of workers using mathematical techniques is much greater than the number formally called “mathematicians”. Generally speaking, applied mathematicians begin with a practical problem, envision its separate elements, and then reduce the elements to mathematical variables. They often use computers to analyze relationships among the variables, and they solve complex problems by developing models with alternative solutions. Engineers, computer scientists, physicists, and economists are among those who also utilize this type of problem solving.

Mathematics shapes and governs most of the phenomena that we encounter on a daily basis. Regardless of the career path that you may choose, it is extremely likely that you will need to utilize mathematical concepts and theories in some aspect of your job. A solid foundation in mathematics is extremely critical in order to contribute to society and further expand the ever-growing technological advances that influence the world.

1     Actuary
2     Bioinformatics
3     Biomathematics
4     Biostatistics and Epiddemiology
5     Climatology
6     Computer Animation and Design
7     Computer Science Researchers
8     Computer Scientists
9     Computer security specialists
10     Core Technology Scientist

Career Resources

Women in Engineering
The Coalition for Science After School
American Mathematical Society
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering
Association For Women In Science
NATIONAL GIRLS COLLABORATIVE PROJECT Advancing the Agenda in Gender Equity for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Check out these exciting careers!

Petroleum engineering

Petroleum engineers search the world for reservoirs containing oil or natural gas. Once these resources are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geologists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation and properties of the rock containing the reservoir, determine the drilling methods to be used, and monitor drilling and production operations.   Useful Resources Society [...]

Agricultural engineers

Agricultural engineers apply knowledge of engineering technology and science to agriculture and the efficient use of biological resources. In addition to creating advances in farming and agriculture, agricultural engineers apply engineering design and analysis to protecting natural resources, develop power systems to support agriculture, and provide environmental controls.   Useful Resources Women in Engineering The [...]


A career in bioinformatics (computational biology) can include a wide range of biological fields from genomics to neuroscience and anywhere in between. For example, mapping and understanding the human genome relies on the use of sophisticated mathematical and computational tools. Although human and other genome projects are essentially complete, there are numerous others still left [...]