1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Math Research Mathematician

  1. Nov 23, 2011 #1
    I am applying to graduate schools right now for mathematics. I have been a part of four different research projects during my undergraduate career. These have been the most fun and rewarding part of my undergraduate career.

    If I do not get into graduate school, I will be looking to industry to become a research mathematician. My questions are:

    • Has anyone here done math in R&D, or something along those lines? If so, would you recomend it?
    • Does anyone have any tips for finding such jobs/information about such jobs (besides google)?

    Thanks (sorry this has been posted before).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2011 #2
    I should add that my interest areas in math are analysis (notably functional analysis), and algebra.
  4. Nov 23, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey SpaceWalrus and welcome to the forums.

    I don't know if you will necessarily need a PhD, but you might need something like a Masters with a thesis component to be considered for those kinds of jobs.

    Alternatively you might get a job in some company lab where you learn the ropes and then work your way up.

    So in saying this, what kind of job and research did you have in mind?
  5. Nov 23, 2011 #4
    Thanks for the reply. Like I said, this would be my backup plan for life (at least temporarily) if I don't get into graduate school. Consequently I haven't put to much thought into it, and I honestly don't know where to begin. The only route I know how to navigate is one that continues down academia.

    Working for some government agency like the NSA sounds like it would be fun...but it sounds like they usually hire mathematicians for number theory and crypto (two areas I don't know). I was wondering if there were other agencies out there of similar caliber, in either the private or public sector, that people knew about (or how to go about finding them).
  6. Nov 24, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If I had to give you advice, I would say to choose something applied to increase your chances.

    You mentioned the NSA with regards to things like cryptography. You might also be interested that signals intelligence (also known as SIGINT) is also an important activity that intelligence (or at least people that analyze information/data for intelligence) use and a lot of different kinds of analysis is used in this endeavor.

    If you are genuinely interested in statistics, I would say that this is also a good skillset.

    There was actually a guy from google mentioning that statisticians are the new hot job because as he said (and I paraphrase here) "There is an overwhelming amount of data, but not enough people to make sense of it".

    In terms of other agencies, you could like to government agencies. Some might have to things like statistical analysis, some may have to make sense of existing analysis.

    Also you can find positions that are entry level where you develop a specific skill set largely from scratch, often in a specific domain (programming comes to mind) which also exist.

    One thing that you should be aware of is that there is no simple bijection of your skills to job requirements. Sometimes you have to take what you have learned and transform that into something that someone else is looking for. I'm not advocating you lie, but if you have done something that relates to what someone is looking for but not in an absolute direct way, then be aware of those kind of things when the opportunities come up.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook