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Math Careers for math majors

  1. Jun 19, 2010 #1
    i've been kind of slow going through college. the last time i met with a counselor, i found i was about a year away from a bachelor's in general math, so i decided to focus on that. later, i asked a teacher what people do with a degree in general math. she said that usually people studying general math go on to grad school, which i wasn't really planning on doing. mainly because i'm a little older than usual (28, so 29 or 30 when i graduate for a bachelor's and then, what, how long does grad school take, anyway?), but also because i want to have a family, and i don't know how feasible it is to go to grad school while trying to have children. basically, i just want to work in my field. at this point, i think i'd like to find an internship, if anything for free, just to see what people actually do with this.
    but i digress. i was thinking of adding either applied or statistics, which would maybe add a year or two. i don't know, i'll probably meet up with a counselor when next semester starts.
    the thing is, i'm not really sure what i want to do. i wouldn't mind teaching at all, but that seems like the only option i can think of off the top of my head, and i don't want to teach only because i can't figure out anything else. that being said, teaching has always seemed interesting, and i've had some great teachers that make me want to follow in their footsteps.
    i think my dream job would be to work in artificial intelligence, but i have no computer/programming experience, except for a class in C, which i have basically forgotten (i am pretty adept at ti-89 basic, but i doubt people pay for that).
    so does anyone have any basic advice? like maybe what grad school is like, what one does with a general degree after that? how easy is it for general majors to work in an applied or stats field? what do people even do with these degrees?
    i've just had the time of my life studying abstract algebra, but who's going to pay me to prove whether or not something is a group? i don't know. if anyone can throw any career advice at me, i'd be greatly appreciative.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2010 #2
    My situation is pretty similar to yours. I am 32 and 3 classes away from an undergraduate degree in math. My plan of action is to job hunt and continue to take classes after graduation in order to make myself more competitive for entrance to grad school. I am interning this summer in advertising doing some applied math. Good luck with everything.
  4. Jun 26, 2010 #3
    Have you looked into an actuarial career as an actuary? (Redundancy intended for both spellings.)
  5. Jun 27, 2010 #4


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    I work as a software engineer in the wireless industry. My background is in EE, but I've worked with several very capable software engineers whose degrees are in math, so that path is certainly open to you.

    If you want to work as a programmer but your skills are rusty, then the answer seems obvious enough to me: take a few programming classes, preferably ones that involve non-trivial projects that you can talk about intelligently on your resume and in interviews.

    Obviously if you want to work in artificial intelligence, you should identify which programming languages are most useful in that environment and focus on those. Also if you don't have any AI courses under your belt then by all means take some. In general, the more directly relevant knowledge/experience you have in your target field, the better your chances of landing a first job. (After the first job, your academic background is almost irrelevant; your work experience is what matters primarily.)
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