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Job opportunities in math

  1. Dec 23, 2007 #1
    i have quite a few questions regarding getting jobs for math majors. i'm having alot of difficulty in deciding whether to major in math or physics. i really enjoyed my proofbased linear algebra class but didnt like my complex analysis class

    if you get a math b.s., with say a 3.0gpa, how easy will it be for you to get a job? is it still relatively possible to get such a job when you majored in PURE math?

    if you get a job with a math degree, do all the jobs you can get require you to do a lot of computer programming? or are they more math-related?

    is it relatively possible to get a b.s. in math, and then get a engineering job?

    is it easier to get a job with a b.s. in PURE math than in physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2007 #2
    I have been doing a lot of research on this subject since I will be graduating in May with a B.S. in Pure Math, and I don't want to teach or go to grad school.

    Overall, I would say a B.S. in pure math is almost useless without some kind of applied subject or computer skills as a supplement (personally, I am minoring in Statistics and currently in the process of learning Excel, Access, VBA, SAS [which will be covered in some detail in a Stat class I am taking next semester]). I would recommend taking classes in something applied and getting some computer skills.

    Here is a rough breakdown of some options with a B.S. in Pure Math:

    Secondary Math Teacher: Won't be too hard to find a job teaching Math (in the US, I'm not sure about other countries). You will likely need to get a teaching license within a few years (2, 3) of starting.

    Actuary: This profession is consistently ranked as one of the best. Pass some exams (there is an exam process which will take you 5-10 years to get through), get some computer skills, and with a B.S. in Math you can find a job. This is what I am working on :smile: I have spent about 40+ hours of this past week studying for the first exam (on Probability) and learning Excel thoroughly.

    Statistician: Another profession that is ranked as good. A degree in Stats (MS/PhD) would make it easy to find a job (from what I hear). However, if you have some SAS skills then you can probably find a job with a B.S. in Math and a little bit of knowledge in statistics.

    Programmer, Engineer, Operations Research Analyst, Finance stuff, are other options.

    For almost all of these you might as well get a degree in that discipline, or start focusing towards one of them, if you have the time.

    If you are not too far along in your pure math program, and you really don't want to go to grad school, then I would recommend taking some classes that are more applied, and work on some computer skills.

    Summary: Don't major in Pure Math if you are only interested in getting a B.S. and don't want to teach! If you have to major in Math (in the sense that it would take you a considerable amount of time to major in something else), then take some classes that will make you marketable (statistics, applied math, economics, finance, business, programming, engineering; whatever you are interested in) and learn some computer skills.
  4. Dec 23, 2007 #3
    I graduated with a degree in math and a 3.1 gpa in August. I haven't gone looking for full-time work yet, but it wasn't too hard to find a decent part-time job while I decided to take a couple of classes post bachelor's. I am essentially a salesman though, since I didn't have much professional experience doing anything else.

    I do have some advice. Regardless of what you do, one of the most important things you can do to help your resume is to get an internship during the summer while in college. For that, you'll need some kind of related coursework in the first place and a decent gpa. Business, marketing, and economics courses are always good electives to have to cite in interviews (and a lot easier than analysis or topology). Programming is useful too. Also make sure to ask around and see if you can find some good personal references as well.

    I'd say if you stay tenacious while looking for work, always look for opportunities to call and speak to people "in person," and get involved in projects as they come along you'll do fine. If you're lazy and play videogames inbetween classes and studying, things won't go so great.
  5. Dec 27, 2007 #4
    how likely is it to find a non-academia job if you get a phd in some abstract area of pure math? what are the salaries of those jobs?

    if you get a B.S. in pure math, how many engineering/physics/computer science classes do you need to take in order to find an engineering job?

    asiansensationk, did u major in pure or applied math?
  6. Dec 27, 2007 #5
    Applied Mathematics. At my school there's actually a couple of focus areas, from pure math to interdisciplinary programs with physics, economics, comp-sci and even actuarial science.

    My area is mathematical economics. I actually jumped from pure mathematics to actuarial science to mathematical economics, so I've seen a little of everything.

    I really think there's a wide variety of opportunities out there available to most math majors, but you have to show relevant interest and experience in the field you choose.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2007
  7. Dec 28, 2007 #6

    It would likely be incredibly difficult. With a PhD in some obscure pure math field, your best shot would most likely be with the government for a non academia job. Other than that, there is no reason why anyone else would hire you without some other special skill (like computer programming).

    Math majors were all recommended to take up a minor at my school. Minoring in Economics, finance, or computer science is a lethal 1-2 punch. I minored in Econ on top of my math major and had 2 jobs offers before I graduated from some financial firms. Many math majors end up in the financial industry and in other business fields.

    Don't kid yourself either. Starting Actuaries don't make 6 figures, they only start around $50,000. It takes years to pass the actuary exams and 10-20+ years experience before you even sniff 6 figures.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2007
  8. Dec 28, 2007 #7


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    The actuary route sounds brutal!

    Sounds so ridiculously boring.
  9. Dec 28, 2007 #8
    Both of those degrees are often nearly worthless as a B.S. Both can be reasonably good if you choose very specific classes that apply well to the real world (and do some networking at the same time).

    In other words, if you're having to ask the question, then you're in trouble. Switching between those two majors isn't going to fix the problem.
  10. Dec 28, 2007 #9
    and how likely is it to obtain a government job if you get your phd in some abstract area of pure math?
  11. Dec 28, 2007 #10
    I don't know; I know someone with a job in finance who certainly didn't work that hard as a math major. Maybe she took 4 classes I didn't having to do with finance math and probability whereas I will graduate with 33 hours of more grad credit than she did. Companies are the people with the misconception.
  12. Dec 30, 2007 #11
    if i were to get a B.S. in applied math and take a few engineering classes with it (my school doenst offer engineering minors), would i have a good chance of finding a job? how about finding engineering related jobs?
  13. Jan 2, 2008 #12
    can anyone please answer my last question?
  14. Mar 4, 2008 #13
    Sounds kind of risky. Intuitively, I think you would be at a huge disadvantage against those with degrees in engineering. Maybe get a BS in Applied Math, take some engineering course, and then go get a grad degree in engineering? That's my opinion.
  15. Mar 4, 2008 #14
    look for a mathematical finance program...you can apply math to money management. You would become an analyst and maybe a more higher paid job would be investment banker where essentially you invest the money of the rich to make them even richer while you get a little portion of the gains.
  16. Mar 4, 2008 #15
    a very, very good advice!
  17. Mar 4, 2008 #16
    you should talk to a few math majors who went through the process. ams has profiles of such people. As far as I understand it, a math degree is competitive but usually not for engineering jobs. There are many opportunities out there!
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