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What is the job outlook for Mathematics professors?

  1. Apr 17, 2014 #1
    Will it be easier to find a job as a Math professor in future years or harder? I've always wanted to be a Math professor, but recently it seems as if there are more PhDs than academia spots...
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    That will depend on your country - the economy etc.
    The chance of getting tenure depends on demand and supply - I think professorships have been declining over the last few years although there seems to have been an increase to 2008.

    Useful starting point:

    Note: in many countries a "professor" is different from a "Professor".
  4. Apr 17, 2014 #3

    I'm referring to the US and thank you for the link!
  5. Apr 17, 2014 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Figured: the USA is one of those countries that makes the distinction. ;)
    No worries - the link will help you refine your question.

    Full, cap P, Professorships are in high demand so there is lots of competitian for the posts.
    Look up the resume's of Professors just in your college and see what it takes - it helps if there is a recent appointment handy, but you can compare their acheivements with the date of their appointment.
  6. Apr 18, 2014 #5
    I think it's a bit better than, say, physics. The market seems like it has been going downhill, though. It seems from the recent AMS data I've seen, that about 2/3s of math PhDs get SOME sort of academic jobs (the other 1/3 in industry and some unemployed or under-employed, such as yours truly at the moment). What's not clear from that data, though how many of these new PhDs are have the terrible adjunct positions, how many are postdocs and will those people find a permanent place?

    Here's a relevant post.


    Personally, I was screwed because I sucked at teaching and the department didn't let me teach my own class (except once), so I never had the chance to address those issues sufficient. Plus, I completely lost interest in the very idea of doing research on "cutting-edge" topics once I saw what it was like. I had always assumed that I could just keep learning and think about math and things would work out, since I was apparently pretty good at it, but they didn't even come close to working out. I found that my interests were completely orthogonal to anything that would give me much credit in academia, at least within the foreseeable future.

    I suppose the moral of the story is to try to really think about what it would be like to be a math professor and if you'd actually like it. This can be hard to do. As far as teaching goes, tutoring and practicing public speaking (toastmasters, etc.) is a really good start. I didn't tutor until after I taught my first class, and that would have helped a lot. For research, there are always REUs and that sort of thing, but you can always do your own project. Write some long expository article about an interesting topic in LaTeX, try to come up with your own ideas and fool around with them. That sort of thing. But what that doesn't tell you about is the nature of what mathematicians are actually studying, which takes a very long time to understand. As it happens, it was perhaps this absurd level of complexity that I found more off-putting than anything (specifically, there was just too much material to understand it all as deeply as I'd like, and it's not just me--lots of mathematicians have to take the more complicated stuff on faith because it's just to time-consuming to go through it all). To my mind, it wasn't a good kind of "deep" complexity. More like a horrendous sort of "fall down the bottomless pit of advanced mathematics" sort of complexity. I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have chosen topology.

    Another moral of the story is to come up with a back-up plan.

    Saying you like math enough to get a math PhD is a bit like saying you like pizza so much that you would like it if some locked you up in a room and wouldn't let you out until you ate 20 extra-large pizzas in one sitting.
  7. Apr 18, 2014 #6
    Honestly, I'm still an undergrad whose just starting, so it'll be 10-12 years before I would be trying to get a job in academia. Isn't there a good chance things could shift for the positive by then?
  8. Apr 18, 2014 #7

    Simon Bridge

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    It is hard enough figuring how things will go in 5 years, never mind 10-12!
    Sure things could shift to the positive - or they could get much worse.
    Not enough data to tell either way.
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