# EE switching into Pure Math

People like me eh?

I look at it as return on investment. Why spend 25K to 100K of your own or your parent's money to get a piece of paper for something many people on this board could self study?
Now you are building strawmen! I never even remotely suggested that this was a good idea. In fact, my parents have contributed zlich (money wise) to my education. I have a full time job and I go to a state school. I have scholarships. The most I have paid out of pocket for tuition is $2500 and that was only this semester. According to the same site, there were just under 22K actuary jobs in 2010. Still nowhere close to the number of EE jobs if you sum the two. Again, apples to oranges. This would be like if I picked ONE area in which EEs work. And there are many more people who want to be EEs than who want to be actuaries. Back to the original topic, the OP wanted an opinion and I gave mine. Yes, and you made some alarmingly ignorant claims with respect to job prospects. He wants to "do" pure math, not applied. That rules out all of the alternate careers you mentioned. If he wants to be a mathematician and do research and be a professor, he will make good money. If he wants to do pure math as an undergrad and then something else for a career, he has the abilities to pick up the other stuff. It really amazes me how little you actually know about the topic, but are nonetheless ready to claim that people who major in pure math face meager job prospects. I know of several people who have done pure math as undergrads but have offers to be actuaries - starting at around$50k / year (and with actuaries, salary goes up with exams passed.) So, again, you are way off the mark.

My opinion would be to pursue something that will let you do high level math and earn a decent living at the same time without the hassle of competing for an extremely limited number of jobs as a "mathematician".
Yes, and as I mentioned, there are many, MANY things to do other than be a "mathematician."

People like me eh?

I look at it as return on investment. Why spend 25K to 100K of your own or your parent's money to get a piece of paper for something many people on this board could self study?According to the same site, there were just under 22K actuary jobs in 2010. Still nowhere close to the number of EE jobs if you sum the two.

Back to the original topic, the OP wanted an opinion and I gave mine. He wants to "do" pure math, not applied. That rules out all of the alternate careers you mentioned. My opinion would be to pursue something that will let you do high level math and earn a decent living at the same time without the hassle of competing for an extremely limited number of jobs as a "mathematician".

I guess you and the OP can get back to us when you graduate
and let everyone know how the
job search went.

Return on investment is a good point, and perhaps another reason holding me back. I come from a fairly well off family, and am easily able to pay through college, but still I don't want to waste my parents' money. Then again, would it be worth it if I end up with a job I don't like?

Perhaps I've been a little unclear; I wouldn't mind studying some form of applied math in graduate school. But my preference would be pure. In either case, I think I'd be happier even in applied math than in EE, even if that means not getting the fat EE paycheck.

Return on investment is a good point, and perhaps another reason holding me back. I come from a fairly well off family, and am easily able to pay through college, but still I don't want to waste my parents' money. Then again, would it be worth it if I end up with a job I don't like?

Perhaps I've been a little unclear; I wouldn't mind studying some form of applied math in graduate school. But my preference would be pure. In either case, I think I'd be happier even in applied math than in EE, even if that means not getting the fat EE paycheck.

One thing to consider is the Quantitative Finance route. I talked to a couple of math grad students who are going into quantitative finance. They have worked as interns over the summer (one said he got paid $40k ove the summer one year) and said that they are able to do a little pure research on the clock (provided they can explain to their employer why they should care about the research). Of course, it is not all research all the time, but neither is being a professor. Return on investment is a good point, and perhaps another reason holding me back. I come from a fairly well off family, and am easily able to pay through college, but still I don't want to waste my parents' money. Then again, would it be worth it if I end up with a job I don't like? Do what seems best to you, whether that's Pure Math, CS or EE. Just don't lose perspective with respect to the future. Being in a job you don't like isn't worth a big paycheck. My only point is, if you can find a balance between your passion for math and an applied field where that knowledge is in demand, it can make life easier. Plenty of people major in things they love only to find out they love it a little less once they graduate and can't find work. You might also want to read through these threads: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=564732 https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=555108 Good luck whatever you decide. Let's say you do the EE thing, according to the bls, the median salary for an EE is$89,000 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172071.htm). This is cleary a good salary. Now, let's say you major in math, don't go to grad school, and become, say, an actuary (which is a popular choice, though it isn't easy.) Then the median is $87,650 Actuaries usually make significantly more than that, though actuarial analysts do not. The BLS survey probably includes analysts, bringing down the median. I would suggest anyone interested in the topic of actuarial salaries to google “actuarial salary survey” and look at the DW Simpson and Ezra-Penland salary surveys. (Edit: Note that you aren't technically an actuary in the US until you're an ASA, FSA, ACAS or FCAS) Now, this is a little lower than the EE, BUT, the actuary profession is growing faster than the EE, That may be true, but actuarial work is not growing nearly as fast as the number of entry level candidates. I don’t want to scare anyone away from the profession because I think highly of it, but there are a lot of candidates for every position and you need to be very good to be competitive these days. I don’t see any sign of this changing, though it could. Now, let's say you get a Ph.D., then the median salary is$99000 (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Mathematicians.htm). So, in this case, you do better than if you get an EE.

That’s not necessarily true. It is entirely possible that you could have a higher salary as a PhD and still have a lower net present value in lifetime earnings. Salary is not always a good measure of financial value; lost income and the power of discounting can eat up high salaries if they’re achieved too late in the game.

Last edited:
Thanks for the input, everyone. I have decided that I will be switching; next fall I'll be taking Analysis and Combinatorics. Should be challenging, but very rewarding...and much more interesting!