Thanks to the growing importance placed on technology, big data, and economic efficiency by all kinds of organizations, expert number crunchers are increasingly in demand.
Those who study math are keen problem solvers, eager to make sense of even the most advanced equations. Academic research is a common career path, but so are careers in business, economics, and banking. This wide range of opportunities comes from the universal need for graduates with strong analytical and problem-solving skills – which math graduates should possess.
What can you do with a math degree?
So, what can you do with a math degree? Mathematical experts are in demand across all kinds of industries the world over. Study math and you’ll have access to career opportunities in sectors you may never have even considered, including specialized fields such as law or medicine. However, a large number of math careers are based within business or science and technology-related sectors, with math graduates occupying roles such as accountant, actuary, statistician, technician, economist, or market researcher.
Careers in accountancy and finance
A career in accountancy offers a range of options for maths graduates across many different industries. Accountancy jobs include roles such as auditor, tax accountant, forensic accountant, management accountant, and corporate advisor. To become a chartered accountant, in addition to an undergraduate degree in mathematics or a related area, you’ll also need to gain further professional qualifications. Often, however, if you start at a company as a trainee in this field, your employer will help you gain both the experience and the professional certification needed to develop in your role.
Careers in banking
Opportunities in banking range from the world of retail banking to corporate investment banking. Both arenas deal with financial assessment – public and private – with opportunities to specialize in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, bonds and shares, privatization, lending, and IPOs (initial public offerings). Duties can include market research, creating new business opportunities, and developing financial models and solutions to present to clients. Math careers in banking can be lucrative, but again, professional qualifications in finance will be needed for some roles.
Actuaries evaluate financial risk in order to manage and advise clients. Combining risk analysis skills with in-depth knowledge of economics and business, actuaries ensure sound investments are made and commercial/business goals fulfilled. Most new actuaries start out working within pensions and insurance, a relatively low-risk area, while in the future you may get to work in banking, healthcare, or investment. Actuarial roles can be client-facing, as with consultancies and pensions/insurance companies, and all actuaries will require the skill of communicating complex data and analyses to non-specialists.
Statisticians are specialists in statistics –the collation, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of statistics and quantitative data. Statisticians’ skills are required in numerous industries, ranging from healthcare to government and from finance to sport. You’ll be tasked with managing, collecting, and arranging data by means of surveys, experiments, and contextual analysis. You may then be called upon to create reports and advise clients/colleagues on possible strategies, for example in order to make good financial decisions to further business goals. As a statistician, you’ll have expert analytical skills as well as solid communication and IT skills.
Careers in academia and research
Careers in academia and research are very popular among mathematics students. This route may appeal to those who want the challenge of driving forward the next series of discoveries, theories, and applications of the field – as well as the prestige of following some of history’s greatest mathematical minds.
Academic and research-based careers in math can be incredibly wide-ranging and will depend on what area you wish to specialize in. Many are based within university departments, although long-term academics are also often involved in publishing, contributing to journals and specialist periodicals, or helping to produce complete publications (while on sabbatical or alongside other commitments).
Other common math careers include; intelligence analysis, operational research, statistical research, logistics, financial analysis, market research (for business), management consultancy, IT (systems analysis, development or research), software engineering, computer programming, the public sector (advisory capacity as a scientist or statistician), scientific research and development (e.g. biotechnology, meteorology or oceanography).
Less typical math careers
While the most common way to enter the field of engineering is with an engineering degree, a math degree can also get you there, in some specialized roles. Maths graduates are often good at helping to solve real-world, physical problems, and can be found working in mechanical, structural, aeronautical and many other realms of engineering. That said, engineering careers often require specialized knowledge not covered during a math degree. Engineering internships and work experience can help if you want to improve your employability straight out of university.
Meteorology is more than just presenting the weather. The role involves studying weather conditions using data collected from weather stations, radar, remote sensors and satellite images across the globe, in order to interpret causes and to produce forecasts. You’ll need excellent IT skills, as well as strong skills in analyzing and interpreting complex mathematical data.
In addition to academic roles with a research focus, many rewarding math careers can be found in teaching. Numeracy is always a high priority within primary and secondary education systems, making highly numerate graduates with an interest in teaching highly sought-after. In order to teach in most countries, you’ll require a formal teaching qualification. This can usually be gained in little over a year, and is often highly subsidized by the government, with grants often available to cover fees. To teach at university level, a postgraduate degree is often required, in a relevant specialism. If you choose this path, you may also get the chance to pursue your own academic research