There is no one, simple answer to that question. That’s because math degrees open the doors to numerous potential careers, including many that don’t even exist today, because the advancements in technology are creating new options no one even considered possible just a few years ago.
For math majors, that means being well rounded and taking a diverse set of courses may be the best option for the future. Of course, specialization also has its benefits, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that all math majors will, indeed, have many opportunities once they obtain their degrees.
The very concept of mathematics is evolving as the various science and engineering fields change. New theories focusing on field-specific needs are rapidly coming into play, and many of the newer theories, such as quantum mechanics, require an ability to grasp and build on abstract theories. The evolution in mathematics is unprecedented, which means math majors are exploring exciting new challenges.
Any math degree is likely to be valuable in the future, but math majors are encouraged to follow the development of new trends to determine if any shift in direction is advisable during their educations. Universities are recognizing that technology is evolving so rapidly that being adaptable to changes is certainly a valuable trait.
While the need for teachers at primary and secondary levels is well known, it’s also important to note that post-secondary institutions also require experts who are able to convey complex thought processes to students. Educators will also be challenged to stay abreast of new developments that will impact the marketability of new math graduates.
A wide variety of college-level students are required to take different types of math coursework as part of the being well-rounded learners. However, many majors utilize math as parts of those disciplines.
That means teachers at all levels are already in demand and, with the increasing emphasis on STEM subjects, it’s expected that educators will be important for learning at all levels well into the future. If that sounds interesting, it’s certainly an area for math grads to explore.
Salaries for elementary and secondary teachers vary dramatically from one region to another, but entry-level teachers can generally expect to make from $30,000 to $45,000 when beginning their careers. Experienced teachers can expect to make from $50,000 to $80,000 depending on the state they teach in. Tenured college math professors can expect to make, on average, about $90,000 per year. Again, that figure varies according to the type of college and location factors.
Every industry relies on accounting experts to manage their finances. In fact, there are numerous categories of accounting many math majors don’t normally consider at first glance. Auditors are common, but positions like forensic accounting, tax accounting, and corporate accounting advisors are common positions.
Accounting professionals must have a degree in mathematics and related coursework, but they are also required to take additional, specialized courses related to their field of interest and pass industry-related tests to become certified.
Of course, many accountants form their own companies or elect to work for smaller accounting firms. They provide a variety of personal and business services to clients, generally focusing on topics like tax accounting and providing financial advice to business owners.
According to industry statistics, the average salary for an accountant is currently just under $50,000 per year, but experienced accounting experts dealing with corporate finances escalate quickly. Experience is the key element here, as the top accounting jobs (and highest salaries) generally go to candidates with significant experience. Top CFOs of major corporations can easily earn in excess of $250,000 per year.
Actuarial careers tend to focus on analyzing the risks involved with specific ventures. Whether it’s life insurance or investment analysis, actuaries develop carefully documented projections of likely scenarios and the various risks associated with those scenarios.
Most individuals entering actuarial careers start by working with insurance or banking organizations. However, healthcare industries and other rapidly evolving industries are finding they have a need for actuaries to mitigate their potential risks. With a wide variety of businesses facing challenges directly related to their use of technologies, the need for actuaries is likely to increase in the future, suggesting it’s a good area for career development.
As with all fields, compensation for actuarial positions varies according to experience, industry type, and location. However, experienced actuarial experts in top market areas can expect to earn up to $250,000 per year. Positions paying in excess of $150,000 per year are relatively common.
While often assumed to be only an engineering field, the aerospace industry faces many problems math graduates can assist with. Aerospace positions are found in both private and public sectors, with many jobs closely related to military or space programs.
Since the aerospace industry relies heavily on computer sciences, it’s also possible for math grads to become integral parts of that area of expertise. Yes, additional education may be needed for this and other positions in addition to a math degree, but most of that coursework can be fit into degree programs, especially when double majors are considered.
The median pay for aerospace engineers in approximately $110,000 per year. Of course, salaries vary depending on whether the position is in the private or public sector and the type of position. Some of the major companies are known to pay less than the median, so it pays to shop around to find the best-paying companies.
Banks provide excellent opportunities for graduates having math degrees. Retail banking facilities obviously require math experts to fill a variety of positions, and many of those job options are not as obvious as others. Market research, for example, is not a banking career many people would immediately think of, but math experts are routinely recruited to identify trends and develop plans for growth and investment opportunities.
Another interesting banking career opportunity for math grads involves working with clients to help them determine if their business models are accurate. That type of consulting also allows lenders to better grasp the risks involved with funding various projects.
Typical banking positions tend to pay less than some fields, but the industry is certainly worth exploring. While local banking salaries tend to cap at less than $75,000 per year, leading banks tend to offer math experts capable of more sophisticated analyses.
This area is, arguably, one of the fastest growing segments requiring math graduates. Computer functions are based on math, meaning the design and implementation of new technology will require input from math experts at all stages of planning and development.
As the way everyone interacts with computers changes, both hardware and software will also evolve to meet new needs. That means Silicon Valley companies and other organizations will be actively recruiting math graduates who have the background necessary to work on research and development involving existing and evolving products.
Computer science position salaries tend to start in the $50,000 range for software developers, but the scale increases rapidly as employees gather experience. A senior software developer can easily earn in the $110,000 to $120,000 range. If demand continues to rise as anticipated, those salary figures could easily increase.
Since math is an integral part of engineering, some math majors make their way to one of the many engineering fields. Math grads are often quite good at coming up with real solutions to typical problems in engineering. Math experts also tend to be pragmatic, which further enables them in arriving at sound remedies for real world, physical problems.
Because there are several engineering fields, it’s important to focus on ones that are of interest rather than casting a broad net. Because math is a crucial element of virtually every engineering field, a math degree can certainly open doors, but some engineering background will certainly make more options available.
Entry level salaries for engineers are, typically, in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. However, experienced engineers routinely make well in excess of $100,000 per year, especially if they’re in a high-tech industry. Here again, demand and salaries vary by the type of engineering position being sought and the region. Many engineering jobs tend to gravitate to coastal areas with high population densities, which might be a factor for some candidates to consider.
While closely related to computer science, information technology is often considered a more hands-on field, dealing with systems administration, technical support, and other related areas. All computer-related fields are experiencing an uptick in demand, which means math grads interested in applying their skills can often find positions. As with many of the other math-related fields, additional training will almost certainly be required, but some of that training can be obtained readily.
Recent breakthroughs in computer technology are pushing the envelope, with sophisticated algorithms being used to enhance security, but industry experts are suggesting updating existing systems will require a great deal of work both in planning and implementation. Those same experts are still not clear on what the impact of the new technology will be on businesses, but they agree the changes will require a great deal of integration to ensure the security of systems already in place.
Network engineers and systems administrators can expect to earn $60,000 or more in most areas. As a system’s complexity increases, so will salaries. That suggests larger businesses are likely to have higher-paying positions available than most smaller companies.
The very way businesses operate today is remarkably different than in the past. Logistics plays a far bigger role in an organization’s success today than ever before. A logistician deals with all phases of the supply chain and applies strategies to take advantage of situations that benefit the organization.
Today, production and transportation issues are dependent not only on local conditions, but also conditions far beyond the scope of the business itself. Supply chains frequently involve several levels, and each level plays a role in an organization’s ability to deliver their products on schedule.
While this may not, at first glance, appear to be a likely position for a math graduate, it actually is, as complex calculations are used to ensure the supply chain dynamics work to the company’s advantage.
Salaries, as should be expected, vary according to the industry, but median pay levels are rapidly approaching $80,000 per year.
Mathematicians frequently engage in pure research to expand the knowledge base of traditional and emerging mathematical fields. To some math grads, this is an ideal position but, like other specialized areas, there is a somewhat limited demand when compared to other fields.
However, there are positions available, and the pay rates can make the effort necessary to land one of these positions worthwhile. While entry level positions may well pay no more than $50,000 per year, top salaries can exceed $165,000 per year.
Statisticians are tasked with developing techniques to manage data collection and evaluation issues. Statistics are vital in numerous industries and in the public sector to better understand issues and project ways to overcome them.
To some math grads, the idea of working on real-world problems is more attractive than theoretical ones. That’s one reason grads may elect to seek a career in statistics rather than pure research.
The median annual pay for a statistician is roughly $80,000. As with all fields, experience and the type of industry dictate the amount a statistician will actually make.
What Will You Do With Your Math Degree?
The options listed here are only a few of the many ways graduates can make good use of their math degrees. Even the broad areas mentioned have subsets that should be explored when looking for the best way to use a math degree.
Yes, some of the areas require additional education in other areas, but taking the time to develop additional skillsets will certainly be beneficial. That’s especially true when technology is involved, as math and technology are intertwined. Your math degree is valuable in and of itself, but that value can be multiplied when a math degree is coupled with additional education or skills.