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Possible careers for applied math majors

  1. Feb 12, 2013 #1
    I am from Australia and I'm a freshman in Uni (applied math major and minor in computer science)

    I have no Idea of what I want to do in the future, so I figured to do a math degree because I like the applications of it.

    I am very interested to work for defence, but I have no Idea of what can applied mathematician can do for the military. Can some one please tell what are the possible careers in defence for math majors.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2013 #2
    I assume you'll be staying in Oz? Because I believe it will be very difficult to get defense work in the US.
  4. Feb 13, 2013 #3
    Don't make the same mistake I did by going into math because of all of its "applications.". You know, "its the tool all the other disciplines use." Don't get me wrong, I like math, but but the job opportunities for math majors are not nearly as easy to come by as for engineering majors. If you like applications, I would strongly recommend picking an engineering degree that you like and doing that, and if you can't live without math then do a minor in it and use upper level math classes for your engineering electives. Trust me, I am about to get my math degree, and while I enjoy math, my field of interest is really nuclear engineering, and i have had to postpone my graduation for a year to make up for the missed experience/classes that I would have had if I had transferred schools and became an engineering major. Word to the wise.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  5. Mar 22, 2013 #4
    Nuclear Engineering requires a lot of math. My degree requires 18 hours worth and the topics ranged from calculus 1-3, Differential Equations, Statistics, Applied Math (infinite series, Fourier series, etc). It also requires a lot of physics (15 hours) plus a whole lot of engineering courses. If you're looking for a mix of math and applications, I highly recommend nuclear engineering
  6. Mar 22, 2013 #5
    I made this list of non-academic jobs which might be helpful. It's fairly incomplete, rather badly error-checked, and intended for physics majors in North America. But it probably has a nonzero intersection with math-major careers.

    After I got my math degree, I applied for 100+ applied-math-related jobs. I received 0 emails, 0 phone calls, and 0 interviews. But that was 10 years ago in Texas.
  7. Mar 22, 2013 #6
    Wow! It's because of stories and advice like that of Hercuflea and NegativeDept that I chose joint honours in maths and stats rather than straight maths, which would be my preference if I were to indulge in pure interest. Hopefully that'll make the step from study to work smaller but who knows, things seem terrible virtually everywhere. May I ask you two if your maths degrees were mainly pure, mainly applied, or a mix of both? Did you have many classes in stats/probability?

    To the OP: I don't know about Oz specifically but what about operational research? Didn't that arise in the military? If I understand correctly it's used in just about everything from designing recruitment campaigns to assessing enemy capability.
  8. Mar 23, 2013 #7
    My university didn't have separate pure and applied math departments, and the Mathematics major was a mixture of both. There was a separate Statistics major, though. I didn't take many prob/stats classes and wasn't very good at either. (I got a lot better at the both in the last few years because my dissertation is essentially one big stochastic calculus + maximum-likelihood inference problem.)
  9. Mar 23, 2013 #8
    Same story. My university only has a "mathematics" degree, and you can pick and choose between pure math, applied math, and statistics. I chose mostly applied classes and analysis classes. I'm not finished yet, though, and I may end up doing a research project in statistics before I'm done. But as I said I want to go into engineering in graduate school, so I have to take a bunch of prerequisite engineering classes that any engineering major would have had at a much younger age. So, in a way, I am far behind where I would have been if I had just chosen engineering to begin with (long story).
  10. Apr 1, 2013 #9
    Thanks, both.

    Hercuflea, all the very best with your engineering endeavours; you must be very excited!
  11. Apr 2, 2013 #10
    I have a maths degree from Australia, and have always worked in software development. I also have a Grad Dip Science in computer science.

    The job market over the part 20 year has been 'patchy'. There have been good years, and other years where I had to move interstate for a while to find work.

    I'm now just about to complete a 1 year teaching degree to teach math/science in high school. Not because I like it but because of job security & job burnout from developing software.

    - everybody who graduated from my maths degree in my year went into software. One works in the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Each state govt has a stats bureau eg I've worked at http://www.oesr.qld.gov.au/
    - there are really no applied math jobs. Companies need problem solvers, and they don't see maths as the right skill set (eventhough that's wrong). I recommend you move into software development/design.
    http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-programmer/ . You need to align your mindset wit the way businesses & govts think these days.
    - an undergrad degree is now just the starting point these days, you will find the higher achievers in organisations have specialist postgrad degrees. (In Canberra this is especially so, everybody seems to have 2+ degrees). Get a masters degree in a tech area. It will make job searching easier.
    - get qualified qualified qualified thru short courses. Even Microsoft certifications, project management certs etc.
    - have a look at an engineering qualification, such as a 2 years engineering masters degree (I'm looking at the degree at the Uni of Southern Qld, which will admit you to an engineering masters even if you have a science degree)
    - I've worked in the Dept of Defence as a contractor, it was great fun. Think about applying to the Defence Dept in Canberra direct as a civilian employee. Have a look at Defence Science & Technology Organisation, but you need a PhD to advance there. http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
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