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I always see Mathematician listed as one of the best jobs.

  1. Apr 20, 2014 #1
    I always see "Mathematician" listed as one of the best jobs.

    This makes no sense to me. My friend posted this article on Facebook today:


    Where do publications get the idea that the job Mathematician is a job that exists in the first place? It's not just that article; I've seen other articles that put Mathematician on a list of best jobs.

    Ok, to be fair, I just typed in "Mathematician" into Indeed and got some results: http://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=mathematician&l=. So there have been about 3 listings for the position of Mathematician in the entire nation in the last 15 days (Indeed is a very comprehensive job listing site). Technically, some people do make a living as a Mathematician, but in trivial numbers. To me, it seems strange to list something as a "best job" when only 100 or so people in the entire country are probably making a living doing it. Might as well list "United States Senator" as one of the best jobs.

    Since I'm already diverging into a rant, I'll say that I'm always shocked by articles that hype up non-engineer STEM. I think that article does so because a high school senior or college freshman who reads it will get the impression that going into Mathematics or Statistics is a good idea because it would directly correlate with a type of job that exists and is satisfying and in-demand. What he or she might not realize is that very few people actually work as Mathematicians, Statisticians or Actuaries. I don't know anyone in real life who works as one of those. All my friends I graduated with in Math are either going into teaching or working as software developers or data analysts.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2014 #2
    The American Mathematical Society has 30000 members, so that's a bit more than your 100. See http://www.ams.org/membership/membership

    The issue is that not every mathematician will list himself as mathematician. Nor will every job application ask for mathematicians, even if their job really is that of a mathematician.

    And your list is a bit strange. I would count statisticians and actuaries as mathematicians. So I really don't understand how they define "mathematician".
  4. Apr 20, 2014 #3


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    It could be just a matter of job titles. For example I used to work in a group that developed software for internal use in an engineering company, and the job titles within the group were Programmers, Mathematicians, and Systems Analysts. In theory, the mathematicians developed the numerical methods, the programmers wrote the code, and the systems analysts lived in a parallel universe where nothing was quite the same as in the real world :smile: .... but in practice, there wasn't a very clear distinction between the different job titles.
  5. Apr 20, 2014 #4


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    I personally would not count statisticians as mathematicians, per se, but I agree with the other posters here that job titles don't always match up with the responsibilities involved in those job positions.

    And to Jamin2112, there are actually quite a lot of job titles with the exact title of statistician, particularly in the health care/pharmaceutical/biotech sectors (the title of statistician and biostatistician tend to be used interchangeably), and many financial, marketing, insurance, and data analysis firms often have the statistician as a job title as well.
  6. Apr 20, 2014 #5
    Fair point.

    Even so, my point is that the combined number of mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries is pretty low. Those are jobs with big responsibility and you have to be the best of the best to get them. For instance, I remember looking at my state government's payroll and seeing that they employ about 5 actuaries. That's the number of actuaries that a large entity needs. You can go to the forum Actuarial Outpost http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/ to see a ton of disgruntled aspiring actuaries haha.
  7. Apr 20, 2014 #6


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    Not all jobs are found on state payrolls, however.

    Actuaries are the people who determine how to price risk for major insurance companies and other financial institutions. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast a 26% growth in the number of actuarial jobs over the next decade:


    Currently, there are more than 24,000 actuarial jobs in the US, according to the BLS, so the growth forecast translates into positions for more than 6000 additional actuaries in the next ten years or so.

    As an actuary should tell you, the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
  8. Apr 20, 2014 #7


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    If you can get a job as a 'mathematician', it's basically 'Have Pencil, Will Travel'. No heavy lifting, minimal interface with other non-mathematician types, generally comfortable working conditions. You won't find a lot of mathematicians in the bottom of a ditch (unless they had too much to drink at lunch and got lost on the way back to the office).

    Just look at this guy: twelve years ago, he was headed nowhere, a mullet drifting into the sunset, until he got a golden tap on the back of the head. Now, who knows?

  9. Apr 20, 2014 #8


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    "Mullet drifting into the sunset", "golden tap"...:rofl:, you have a nice way with words!
  10. Apr 21, 2014 #9
    Mathematician specifically? Only as a pedagogue - I don't see what's so good about it. Also, what is the definition of a good job? Is it all about the salary or does the work atmosphere count too?

    What exactly does a "mathematician" do? Yes, DO. We have a chef who studied maths for 5 years and then switched gears to catering, he wants to open his own business, I can see how maths helps him, But, I don't see how Only maths helps anybody. According to his own words, studying math is just a base no matter what, everybody needs to know something practical.

    By this logic, I would say an engineer in their field is a much "better" option.

    Of course, to each their own, somebody can't lift a box without passing out and contemplating coulda-shoulda-wouldas all day every day.
  11. Apr 21, 2014 #10
    CareerCast looks at 200 of the most populated jobs and then ranks them on a variety of criteria that fall into four key categories: environment, income, outlook and stress. (Stress alone has 11 different factors, from high risk to tough deadlines.)
    -from Jamin's usatoday link:http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/19/cnbc-best-and-worst-jobs-of-2014/7881247/

    Math, I think.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  12. Apr 21, 2014 #11


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    This reminds of the next episode in Freakazoid, I think I would prefer the Jockey option... :-D
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  13. Apr 30, 2014 #12
    Being a mathematician is hard. My father is extremely talented and went to Harvard for a PhD in math. He decided not to pursue it because it requires a lot of socializing and shcmoozing to become a professor.
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