You love numbers. Rarely do they lie, the formulas make sense, and you feel as though you'd thrive in a mathematically-oriented setting. It makes sense for you to make a living by working with numbers — but what jobs can you get?
What can you do with a major in math? Where can you find a job? Will the degree be useful? Find the answers to your pressing questions by reading further.
How Useful is a Math Degree?
We need math in our lives, and we definitely have a strong need for people who can make sense of all those numbers, formulas, and equations. As a major, math is exceptionally useful. There are many fields to head into once you’ve completed your degree.
Some math majors become educators, but there are other paths to take. If you're great at math and wondering if you should pursue it, the answer is yes. On a whole, the demand for careers involving math is expected to increase 29 percent by 2031 (bls.gov).
Is Majoring in Math Hard?
Math may be one of the oldest sciences, but it is in a constant state of evolution. Discoveries are being made every day. While you may run into challenges (as with every major), if your mind is mathematically-oriented, a degree in mathematics should be both feasible and enjoyable.
Mathematicians comes in two sizes: theoretical (or pure) and applied.
- Theoretical mathematicians use research to expand on math theories and principles.
- Applied mathematicians use math theories to solve difficulties within companies.
If you know that you want to major in math, you’ll need to enter the math program at your college of choice. Many colleges recommend math-based courses specific to the career direction you take. One thing is certain, if you know you want to go into math, then you need to take action while you’re still in high school. Take AP math and sciences and maintain a high GPA.
College math majors will take a variety of the following math courses, interspersed with their other core classes:
- Multiple levels of Calculus
- Math lab
- Probability and statistics
- Multiple levels of Algebra
- Multiple levels of Geometry
- History of mathematics
- Discrete mathematics and proofs
- Cryptology and number theory
- Intro to computational algebraic geometry
- Complex analysis
- Numerical methods
- Differential equations
Every college has its own list of courses required for graduation, so check in with your academic advisor to help create your semester schedules.
Most math programs will expect you to complete a capstone as a graduation requirement. A capstone is a presentation based on the culmination of your learnings. It could be a presentation or a thesis; your professors will hand out the rubric outlining their expectations.
What Every Math Major Should Do
Math majors have a long list of objectives. The expectation is that they graduate their programs knowing certain things such as:
- Show where the quadratic formula comes from, how it was derived, and many other important tidbits of information regarding it
- Easily prove the Pythagorean Theorem
- Also easily be able to obliterate the Pythagorean Theorem by proving the square root of two is “irrational”
- Show and understand the steps behind Newton’s method
- Prove Euler’s formula regarding convex polyhedrons
- Understand where the concept of zero came from and its purpose
- Know the importance of “n”
- Be able to come up with a formula for the distance from a point to a plane
- Practical uses of math such as computer programming
- The ability to communicate via verbal and written word
- Easily able to teach yourself unfamiliar math concepts
- An understanding of the various branches of mathematics
- Have networking skills
- Be proficient with problem-solving skills
Careers Available to Math Majors
Not all math majors are considered mathematicians. Your actual job title will be dependent on which field you’re in. Many of the following careers begin as math majors, but then turn into a specialty. While many math majors go into teaching on all levels of the educational system, here are some other career options to consider.
Statistician: In order to help businesses solve their problems, statisticians use data analysis and statistical techniques. They may help determine the aerodynamics of a car part, or how effective a medication will be. Information is determined through processes such as experiments, surveys, opinion polls, and other forms of data collection.
- Hiring managers look for a master’s degree in statistics or mathematics.
- A computer programming background may prove beneficial.
Actuary: By using math, stats, and financial theory, actuaries are able to determine the financial cost of risks and uncertainties within businesses.
- A bachelor’s degree in math, actuary science, statistics, or related analytical fields is required.
- Certification through Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries is required to work in the field.
- It takes 4-7 years of work experience to earn the first level of certification, and then an additional 2-3 years for a fellowship certification.
Economist: Broadly, economists study specialized areas and answer questions related to them. More narrowly, they focus on the production and distribution of goods, resources, and services. They research trends, collect data, and analyze economic issues on the daily.
- Most economists have a master’s degree. A Ph.D. may also be required.
- Internships are available through most programs and will get you valuable experience.
Financial Planner: Clients use financial planners to advise them on all types of investments and financial management, from college savings, to mortgages, to retirement, and everything in between.
- A bachelor’s degree in math, finance, economics, or a related field is required by most hiring managers.
- Financial planners must be licensed and certified through the North American Securities Administrators Association.
Accountant: In order to help companies and individual people financially, accountants prepare and examine their clients’ records to make sure everything is accurate so taxes can be filed.
- You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in math, accounting, or a related field.
- Some hiring managers will only look at someone with a master’s degree in accounting or business administration.
- If you’re filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, then by law, you must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
- Continuing education is required in order to keep up your CPA licensing.
Market Research Analyst: Market research analysts look into the potential sales of products and services, by studying the conditions of the current market. They seek to understand what consumers want, and the price point goods should be sold for.
- Get a bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, market research, or computer science.
- Some employers prefer that new hires have a master’s degree in market research.
- Voluntary certifications are available and highly recommended.
Mathematical Technician: You’ll work in scientific research or with engineering projects. Your job will be to solve mathematical equations that help determine the path of certain projects. Or, you can work in education as a math teacher with the proper certifications.
- You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
- Although not common, some employers will want you to have a master’s degree in math as well.
With a degree in math, you should be able to find many options in many industries. Having your math degree can be a formula for success, you only need to narrow your focus.