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Is an applied mathematics major marketable for a job?

by daigo
Tags: applied, major, marketable, mathematics
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daigo
#1
Jan28-12, 09:16 AM
P: 27
I originally wanted to major in chemical engineering, but I really like math more and I'm afraid I won't like my job as a chemical engineer even though I'm very good at the subjects so far.

Is an applied mathematics major still as viable as an engineering field (which I hear is almost a guaranteed job these days)?
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bpatrick
#2
Jan28-12, 12:41 PM
P: 125
not to be a downer, but just from looking at 8 of my friends who did B.S., M.S., or PhDs in applied math: 5 are unemployed or underemployed.

the three that are employed ended up: Kristin went to grad school for a PhD in meteorology and is now working for NOAA, Becca became an actuary, and Taryn became a teacher at a private school.

The other 5 of my friends who did applied math (who went to UConn, UVa, UMiami (x2), and PSU for whatever level their terminal degrees were) ... none are working in applied math and two are not working at all.

Most of what those guys have told me is that they have had trouble in that:

if they apply for business/management jobs, they don't have the managerial experience / internships / MBA / six sigma / ect...

if they apply for engineering, they don't have the certs

if they apply for programming jobs, they don't have the portfolio / CS degree to get past the HR gatekeepers

Honestly, it's all about networking though. I'm sure if these guys were to really work at it, they'd be able to get jobs, but most of them aren't exactly great socialites. I think they just believed the whole guidance counselor thing that "if you go to college and do well, there will be jobs waiting for you."

Last I heard, Saad may be going to medical school through the army, and Anthony evidently has been working his way up in some bank where he started as a teller after finishing his M.S. in mathematical biology. So right there, two out of the 5 seem to be doing something, the others are just in a rut (either unemployed or working entry level at walmart/starbucks) as far as I can tell from what I can see on facebook, linkedin, and gossip from mutual friends.

Jobs are out there, but eh, no clue if they're any better or worse than ChemE or anything else for that matter. Good luck with your decision though, and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
daigo
#3
Jan28-12, 12:48 PM
P: 27
I actually planned on going to grad school in Applied Mathematics, but I'm afraid if I fail with an Applied Mathematics PhD, that I won't have an undergraduate degree such as something in engineering to fall back on. But on the other hand, I want to major in Applied Mathematics so I can get into grad school for Applied Mathematics as well, and I'm not sure being a ChemE major will have a very strong background to get into a mathematics graduate program.

StatGuy2000
#4
Jan29-12, 02:24 PM
P: 578
Is an applied mathematics major marketable for a job?

Quote Quote by bpatrick View Post
not to be a downer, but just from looking at 8 of my friends who did B.S., M.S., or PhDs in applied math: 5 are unemployed or underemployed.

the three that are employed ended up: Kristin went to grad school for a PhD in meteorology and is now working for NOAA, Becca became an actuary, and Taryn became a teacher at a private school.

The other 5 of my friends who did applied math (who went to UConn, UVa, UMiami (x2), and PSU for whatever level their terminal degrees were) ... none are working in applied math and two are not working at all.

Most of what those guys have told me is that they have had trouble in that:

if they apply for business/management jobs, they don't have the managerial experience / internships / MBA / six sigma / ect...

if they apply for engineering, they don't have the certs

if they apply for programming jobs, they don't have the portfolio / CS degree to get past the HR gatekeepers

Honestly, it's all about networking though. I'm sure if these guys were to really work at it, they'd be able to get jobs, but most of them aren't exactly great socialites. I think they just believed the whole guidance counselor thing that "if you go to college and do well, there will be jobs waiting for you."

Last I heard, Saad may be going to medical school through the army, and Anthony evidently has been working his way up in some bank where he started as a teller after finishing his M.S. in mathematical biology. So right there, two out of the 5 seem to be doing something, the others are just in a rut (either unemployed or working entry level at walmart/starbucks) as far as I can tell from what I can see on facebook, linkedin, and gossip from mutual friends.

Jobs are out there, but eh, no clue if they're any better or worse than ChemE or anything else for that matter. Good luck with your decision though, and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
I find this very surprising, as I would figure that an applied mathematics graduate degree would make someone more marketable for a variety of positions, in large part because applied math graduates would develop a wide variety of analytical/quantitative skills that can be applied to a wide range of businesses/industries (of course, it's possible that certain subspecialties within applied math may have better or worse job prospects than others).

I am a statistician working in the health care/pharma/biotech industries for the past several years, and I am constantly approached by recruiters about new positions opening up (I am located in Canada, by the way). I would think that many of your friends with applied math degrees who are currently unemployed could without too much effort find work as statisticians (of course, networking and polishing your resume and interview skills can only help).
SophusLies
#5
Jan30-12, 01:54 PM
P: 222
Any degree in science or math is marketable but only if you have an idea of what you want out of the degree. Getting the degree then asking "what can I do with this?" is the quickest ticket to the unemployment line. Engineering will always be more marketable than science or math because usually engineering majors have a better idea of what they want to do. Also, the programs cater to more specific careers.

If you like applied math and also want a career then start thinking about what type of job you want now. Take classes that can help you reach that job and you'll be fine. I got my cake and ate it too with a physics and math degrees. I took all the courses that sounded interesting but also made sure I got skills in software to show off my resume.
StatGuy2000
#6
Jan31-12, 08:56 PM
P: 578
Quote Quote by SophusLies View Post
Any degree in science or math is marketable but only if you have an idea of what you want out of the degree. Getting the degree then asking "what can I do with this?" is the quickest ticket to the unemployment line. Engineering will always be more marketable than science or math because usually engineering majors have a better idea of what they want to do. Also, the programs cater to more specific careers.

If you like applied math and also want a career then start thinking about what type of job you want now. Take classes that can help you reach that job and you'll be fine. I got my cake and ate it too with a physics and math degrees. I took all the courses that sounded interesting but also made sure I got skills in software to show off my resume.
You have a valid point that any degree in science or math is marketable depending on what you intend to get out of the degree -- specifically, by emphasizing the quantitative and analytical skills that is instilled as part of earning that degree.

I disagree slightly with your statement that engineering will always be more marketable, because tan engineering degree's marketability would depend both on the demand for the specific engineering discipline and the willingness of the graduate to work outside of their immediate field.

I know of many engineering graduates who work alongside math and science graduates in work outside of engineering, and so in my opinion, all of these graduates are equally marketable, as they all possess similar skill sets.
oranisme
#7
Nov11-12, 09:44 AM
P: 1
For what it's worth, Forbes lists Applied Mathematics as the tenth most valuable college major.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the entry level education requirement for a mathematician as a Master's degree.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics assesses the job outlook (how fast the field is growing) to be "about as fast as average".

Like another commentator has noted, it is important to think about what field you will want to pursue and then work toward that goal.
qspeechc
#8
Nov11-12, 01:55 PM
P: 792
"Applied Mathematics" is a very broad term and can mean a number of things. There is no settled meaning for it. It could be mathematical physics, numerical and computational work (e.g. in pdes of physics, engineering, economics etc.), mathematical statistical/modelling, industrial mathematics (don't ask me what that is), and even financial mathematics, and those are what I can think of off the top of my head, there are probably others.

Some of those things are very theoretical. For instance, at my university cosmology came under applied mathematics. Some of those are basically highly mathematical finance/economics or statistics. Generally, though, in my limited experience of applied mathematics, it involves a fair bit of numerical work and computation. Those skills, I would think, are applicable in many areas.

You should clarify what specific type of applied mathematics you are interested in, and then it would be easier to say how good your job prospects will be.

Also, it is well know that at the moments jobs are particularly difficult to find, particularly for young people with little or no work experience. Any anecdotal evidence should be carefully considered.
sadsackmath
#9
Jun17-13, 08:12 AM
P: 4
If you read the book plutocrats you will find that employers seeking people with data skills are pursuing graduates from IVY league colleges. Those employers don't bother with resumes of students from lesser schools. William Bennett, former secr. of education under Reagan said that only 150 top schools out of 3000 colleges are worth it anymore. In his article he states that if you attend a lesser college, you need to pursue tougher academic subjects to get a job after graduation.

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily...132020890.html

College education used to stratify the classes in this country. Now the college you attend and/or the major you study is determining the opportunities or lack of opportunities you see in your life.

I was a math major graduating in 1984 and 1990 from state universities. I was unable to find work in the business world. I didn't want to teach. I do clerical work.
sadsackmath
#10
Jun17-13, 08:13 AM
P: 4
If you read the book plutocrats you will find that employers seeking people with data skills are pursuing graduates from IVY league colleges. Those employers don't bother with resumes of students from lesser schools. William Bennett, former secr. of education under Reagan said that only 150 top schools out of 3000 colleges are worth it anymore. In his article he states that if you attend a lesser college, you need to pursue tougher academic subjects to get a job after graduation.

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily...132020890.html

College education used to stratify the classes in this country. Now the college you attend and/or the major you study is determining the opportunities or lack of opportunities you see in your life.

I was a math major graduating in 1984 and 1990 from state universities. I was unable to find work in the business world. I didn't want to teach. I do clerical work.
Locrian
#11
Jun17-13, 08:22 AM
P: 1,739
Businesses are certainly hirnig people from non-Ivy colleges for data work. Hiring did drop 2008 - 2010, but it's back, and you don't need to have gone to Harvard to get a job in data fields.

The article linked to roughly supports that position. If you go to a middling US college, avoid degrees with low employment rates, such as the humanities.
sadsackmath
#12
Jun17-13, 12:21 PM
P: 4
I attended two state universities for mathematics. Now both universities "encourage" an additional major be studied with mathematics.

One of the above mentioned state universities was a "drinking school". It doesn't even have a website for mathematics alumni. The other state university has a web site for the math department, but not too many people have been posted on it since the mid 2000's. Many of them must be working outside the field as I am. http://www.uml.edu/Sciences/mathemat...rgraduate.aspx
http://www.uml.edu/Sciences/mathemat.../Graduate.aspx

The William Bennett article argues that if you attend a non top college or university, you should choose a rigorous field of study such as engineering in order to get employers interested in your abilities. As you say, humanities won't help your job search.
trickslapper
#13
Jun17-13, 12:33 PM
P: 63
I would also encourage that you get a second major.


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