Careers in Mathematics

Do you like mathematics and have a talent for it? Here are a few reasons you might consider majoring in math.

Why Major in Mathematics

  • Mathematics is a beautiful, fun, and practical field in which to work. If you enjoyed it, then consider it as a major.
  • A major in mathematics helps a person become literate, conversant, and knowledgeable in many fields. "Understanding the math" can be a stumbling block or the key to understanding in the sciences, engineering, economics, and finance. Mathematics can be the mountain from which to survey the intellectual terrain.
  • Professional schools in business, law, and medicine respect mathematics majors for their analytical ability and versatility. Nobody says, "they only majored in math."
  • Jobs with good job satisfaction. In "The Jobs Rated Almanac," Les Krantz ranked jobs using the criteria of income, stress, physical demands, potential growth, job security and work environment. Several of the top ten jobs are mathematics related. In 2009, the Wall Street Journal published an article ranking (1) Mathematician (2) Actuary (3) Statistician as the best jobs in "Best Jobs and Worst Jobs" chart in Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs.
  • Careers in teaching. Teaching can be an emotionally and intellectually rewarding career, and there is a strong nationwide job market for mathematics teachers.
  • At LSU, we try to make mathematics an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Goals of a Mathematics Education

What should a student seek and expect from an education? Is it purely training for a vocation or even a particular job? In studying mathematics, a person is learning a discipline that touches large aspects of many fields. It should prepare you for jobs, but it should also give you intellectual tools to rise in your vocation and enrich your intellectual life. Each course should contribute to some of these goals.

  • Learn to calculate: Both manipulate and solve word problems.
  • Learn certain fundamental concepts
  • Learn to read independently
  • Learn to write with coherence
  • See the power in mathematics and the abstract

An education should improve a person's ability to think and analyze. You should expect a mathematics education to improve this ability. 1. Improve your ability to think abstractly: analysis disassociated from any specific instance so that it may apply to many instances. 2. Improve your ability to think rigorously: constructing tight logical arguments that have complexity. 3. Improve your ability to think creatively: finding original or unconventional relationships and arguments. 4. Improve your ability to think critically: identifying issues, gathering background knowledge, formulating and testing hypotheses, and constructing supporting arguments. A good mathematics education should fulfill 1, 2, and 3. A mathematics education combined with courses in the sciences or social sciences fulfills 4.

What do mathematicians do?

The American Mathematical Society maintains a page entitled What do mathematicians do?

Careers in Mathematics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains an Occupational Outlook Handbook with information specific to mathematics.

The American Mathematical Society page for Undergraduate Mathematics Majors contains information on Graduate School; Summer Programs; REUs; Special Semesters; Math Clubs, Conferences, and Online Journals; Competitions, Prizes, and Honorary Societies; Careers; Jobs and Internships.

The LSU Olinde Career Center will help you find a job, prepare for interviews, or seek admission to graduate school.

Non-Academic Jobs

A guide to careers for people who like numbers can be found at href="http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/careers-for-numbers-people/">http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/careers-for-numbers-people/.

The American Mathematical Society maintains a Career Information page.

The Career Center of the American Statistical Association is a website on careers in Statistics.

An actuary evaluates risk. We usually think of actuaries working in insurance, but they also work in consulting and finance, among other fields. Advancement as an actuary is through a system of exams given by the Society of Actuaries. General information is available on the website Be An Actuary.

Teaching

For each type of teacher listed at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics site, Occupational Outlook Handbook (Education, Training, and Library Occupations), follow the "More Information" link. Also take a look at Teach for America.

Computation and Applied Mathematics

Information is available from the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematicians (SIAM). SIAM maintains a career information page and offers a Careers in Math brochure (PDF).

Graduate Study

The Undergraduate Mathematics Majors website of the AMS has information including a list of Mathematical Sciences Graduate Programs taken from survey groupings and information on Assistantships and Graduate Fellowships.

The AMS lets you search for graduate programs. Don't neglect to explore the LSU math graduate program.