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Is majoring in Applied Math or Statistics more employable?

  1. Apr 24, 2014 #1
    I'm debating between majoring in Applied Math or Statistics ( which at the hands on school i'm going to attend, really should be called "applied statistics"). I am required to choose an emphasis for both majors, which i will choose computer science for either. Which major is going to be more employable at the B.S level? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2014 #2
    Does your university offer both options? Check with your alumni association or career office, I'm sure that they have the most accurate statistics.
  4. Apr 24, 2014 #3
    I would say that stat is more employable.
  5. Apr 24, 2014 #4
    I agree with Punkyc7. Statistics are an easy sell. It is used very heavily in manufacturing, critical infrastructure (utilities, urban planning, transportation, etc.), and the like.

    Don't get me wrong, applied math is also a pretty good degree, but it does tend to be a more esoteric sell than statistics. People think they understand statistics (It is my experience, that they usually don't). But when someone says they're good with applied mathematics, they immediately think of building fancy modeling software with complicated squirrely data. They don't get warm fuzzies over the latter. Why? I have no idea. I'm an engineer, not a sociologist. But I do have three decades of experience that indicate this situation is the reality.

    In other words, if you're thinking of pursuing Applied Math, you'll have to be more of an educator and a salesman than you would if you called yourself a statistician. I'd love for someone to prove me wrong on this, but I don't think they will.
  6. Apr 25, 2014 #5


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    I agree with both Punkyc7 and JakeBrodskyPE that statistics is more employable, with one caveat: most positions with the job title statistician (or other statistics-related jobs -- think job titles like data analyst, data scientist, quantitative analyst, etc.) tend to require a MS as a minimum.

    Choosing a computer science emphasis with your statistics degree as required in your program will make you more employable though (the same could also be true for the applied math program, depending on how the program is structured).

    BTW, isn't it possible for you to double-major in applied math and statistics? I would suspect that there would be many common courses that would be required for both programs so it shouldn't be too much of a burden to pursue this. Plus if the applied math program at your school is anything like what I'm familiar with, it should give you a good background in applied analysis, etc., which is useful for graduate studies in statistics, if you decide to pursue it.
  7. Apr 25, 2014 #6
    Definitely statistics
  8. Apr 25, 2014 #7

    yeah good point. I was aware that a master in Statistics is very valuable, but wasn't sure if B.S statistics is any more valuable than a B.S in applied Math.

    Hey statguy, do you have a M.S in statistics? if so, does the typical undergrad statistics program prepare one well enough for getting a masters in statistics? My school requires the whole calculus series and linear algebra for its statistics undergrad degree.
  9. Apr 25, 2014 #8
    thanks for answering, guys :3

    even at just the B.S level? what jobs could one get with just a B.S in statistics?
  10. Apr 25, 2014 #9


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    A lot of data entry and statistical programming related jobs. By data entry, I mean collecting data from samples, inputting it into a database, outputting descriptive statistics and performing various test on the data. These jobs tend to pay low for entry level jobs, but with education and experience you can expect a good deal of progress.

    However, to be honest, if you expect to make 'real money' in this field, a graduate degree at the masters level is usually needed. While work experience usually can overcome that issue, what's 2 years in a master program versus the 8 years of work experience?
  11. Apr 26, 2014 #10


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    Hi there. Yes, I do have a MS in statistics. As for the undergraduate program, I completed a joint specialist in math and statistics (I am a graduate of the University of Toronto, and and there a joint specialist is similar to a double major in US schools), and therefore I took all of the rigorous courses in math, as well as all the requirements for statistics, and this prepared me well for graduate school.

    From what you just described, if the calculus series and linear algebra are required, I would think it should prepare you quite well for a masters in statistics. Getting some programming courses or experience will help as well (since you in your original post you did say that you are choosing a concentration in computer science, you should get plenty of that as well).
  12. Apr 30, 2014 #11
    I tend to agree that statistics is more employable than applied mathematics.

    I have a PhD in pure mathematics with an MS in physics, and my experience in hunting for industry jobs is that a lot of employers (though certainly not all) think "math" guys are smart but have a hard time believing they can solve practical problems. They don't seem to have the same assumptions about statisticians. Whether these assumptions are reasonable or not is besides the point - it is an empirical fact. (Of course...who can blame them? Most caricatures of mathematicians show them as squirrely, irritable, reclusive waifs who have a hard time communicating, wear the same clothes every day, and keep nasty, filthy offices where they routinely flail about in an intellectual dreamland.) Sure, pure math is a harder sell than applied math, but applied math is a harder sell than statistics.

    My doctoral advisor always told me: "If you can compute, and you can do statistics, you'll never want for a job." Browse job postings at your favorite online job site - you'll see he's not bluffing. I really should have listened to him!

    The takeaway is this: if you can somehow double-major in applied math and stats (as others here have suggested) with a concentration in computer science, you should be hot to trot when you land on the job market. I don't see the current obsession with "big data," and people who are facile with statistically analyzing data, going away anytime soon.
  13. Apr 30, 2014 #12
    thanks, Axiomofchoice, for taking the time to post this helpful suggestion. Do you think computer science major alone is more employable than statistics with emphasis in computer science? I don't think i could manage majoring in both.
  14. May 1, 2014 #13


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    annoyinggirl, I think both computer science and statistics majors are employable, but the type of work involved between the two may be different, so you'll need to think about what it is that you want to do.

    If you have an interest in statistics (which includes jobs like data mining for businesses or biostatistical work analyzing data from clinical trials for pharma companies or hospitals or health care organizations, as just 2 examples I can think of) then a statistics major may be the best choice. If your interest is in software development or IT type work, then a computer science major may be the best bet for you.

    If you are concerned about managing a double-major for both statistics and computer science, maybe you can consider majoring in one and minoring in the other. At any rate, it is your decision what field to major in -- if you need help in making that decision, or need to address any concerns, I would suggest you speak with an academic counsellor.
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