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What Can You Do with a Math Degree?

Learn about the career paths that a math degree can lead to, from finance to data analysis. This guide will teach you how to make the most of your education.
8 minutes
What Can You Do with a Math Degree?
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Math is one of those subjects that never falls out of relevancy. With a math degree, you'll have a wide range of career paths ahead of you. What's more, they'll offer expansive career progression and strong earning potential.

But don't just take our word for it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that demand for qualified mathematicians will increase by around 31% over the next decade. With a math degree under your belt, you can also expect a median salary nearing $100,000.

What You Can Do with a Math Degree?

  • Auditor
  • Tax accountant
  • Corporate advisor
  • Data analyst
  • Algorithmic engineer
  • College math professor
  • Data scientist
  • Mathematician
  • Process engineer
  • High school math teacher
  • Statistician

Math degrees aren't just relevant to a wide number of careers; that selection of careers is continually growing with the introduction of new technologies, too.

While many math graduates pursue business careers or find roles within science and technology, you can also land coveted roles in medicine for example. Here are some key fields that you can consider once you’ve graduated with your college degree in math.

Audit and Actuarial Careers

Careers in actuary involve handling financial risk for firms, providing expert advice that's used to plan corporate strategy. With business knowledge and experience, actuaries are invaluable assets.

Most new employees in this field begin their career within insurance firms, which offers a lower-risk environment in which to hone your skills. As you gain experience, you can secure new roles in retail banking or healthcare for example, broadening your skillset.

Careers in Academics and Education

Many math graduates opt for a career in research and academia, paving the way for future students and new discoveries in the field of math. This role often comes with the chance to have your name immortalized in academic papers and research pieces.

These roles are incredibly varied and offer numerous opportunities for specialization, and some people choose to work directly within university departments. Others work with research and publishing houses, so it really comes down to personal preference.

Otherwise, there are, of course, teaching roles available that offer direct student contact. While primary and secondary education typically attract below-average salaries, even for math graduates, professor positions require further study to a PhD level.

Careers in Accountancy and Finance

Mathematics sets you up with the necessary skills to pursue a career as an accountant. Such a career path means having a breadth of job opportunities available to you, as most if not all corporations and small businesses require accountancy services.

In addition to specialized roles, such as forensic accountant and management accountant, you could secure a consultancy or advisory role. However, for progression and the best chance of employment, you'll need to study for professional qualifications. Many larger organizations often choose to fund your studies, which can help you to become qualified without having to take on additional student debt.

Other opportunities within financial services include banking roles, either in private equity or retail banking firms. Further specialization is possible, depending on your interests, and you could work on large-scale acquisitions and mergers, or credit and lending.

Careers in Computer Science

Computer science is fast-becoming one of the most in-demand areas around the world, as the internet and internet-connected devices continue to explode in popularity. This is particularly the case as machine learning and artificial intelligence become a central focus for tech start-ups and larger organizations. Some math degrees are combined with computer science, which will provide you with some of the most-employable and desirable skills around.

Careers in Engineering

Most professionals working in the field of engineering graduate from college with an engineering degree. That said, math graduates have access to specific roles in the industry, as the problem-solving skills learned in such a program are highly transferable.

This is particularly true in fields such as mechanical or aeronautical engineering, for example. But bear in mind that you may need to study toward further professional qualifications to expand your knowledge for certain roles.

Careers in Research and Statistics

Researchers and statisticians are in high demand, as noted by the BLS. In fact, research and development roles within the physical, engineering, and life science industries can attract some of the highest salaries for math graduates. However, your skills can be applied in other areas, such as working in a healthcare organization or government agency.

In these roles, you'll commonly be responsible for gathering and interpreting qualitative and quantitative data, before providing expert reports that assist in business strategy for example.

What You Can Do with a Math Degree: Potential Roles

Now that we’ve covered the potential industries in which you might find work as a math graduate, let’s take a look at some of the prospective roles. Many of these titles apply to multiple different industries:

  • Actuarial analyst
  • Chartered accountant
  • Cryptographer
  • Data analyst / scientist
  • Economist
  • Financial planner 
  • Investment analyst
  • Online math tutor
  • Research analyst
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Software engineer
  • Statistician

Less Common Roles You Can Do with a Math Degree

While many graduates of a math degree opt for one of the fields or roles outlined above, there are also outliers. Some graduates choose more niche roles in areas such as criminal justice or meteorology for example. Here are a few of the less-common roles secured by some math graduates leaving college:

  • Financial crime investigator: Many insurance, pension, and banking firms employ fraud investigators to vet applications and detect fraud. In some cases, graduates secure roles in which they investigate the firms themselves. In addition to math and analysis skills, people in these roles need to know a lot about the criminal justice system and financial rules.
  • Insurance underwriter: Underwriters have to figure out how risky a credit application is in order to decide if their company should give out a credit line or an insurance policy. Due to the level of responsibility, these jobs usually require a college degree, preferably in a field like math or accounting.
  • Meteorologist: Meteorologists are responsible for monitoring and predicting weather patterns, providing data to broadcasting agencies and other organizations. In addition to strong math skills, you'll need to be excellent at communicating your findings in the form of reports and other media.

Why Pursue a Career in Math?

The knowledge and soft skills that you'll gain after completing a math degree will set you up for success in a highly lucrative and in-demand field like engineering or architecture. 

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You’ll Develop Highly Coveted Skills

Aside from having an in-depth and transferable knowledge of mathematical principles and formulae, you'll develop a range of skills that employers look for in most professional roles.

  • Analytical: Analytical skills go hand-in-hand with problem-solving skills, allowing you to approach a problem and deconstruct it into smaller, manageable pieces of work that can be resolved. This skill underpins all mathematical problems and lends itself to almost any career.
  • Critical thinking: In most cases, when solving mathematical problems, you'll need to show how you arrived at a solution; this is where critical thinking skills come in. The same skills can be used to plan for the future of a business or to design a new building, for example, in structural engineering. You may also rely on them when proposing outcomes following a piece of research.
  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving is a highly valued skill in the business world, where corporations and other organizations need professionals who can break down complex issues and suggest solutions that are driven by research and data.
  • Time management: Time management is an essential skill across the board, and one that will make you more successful in your personal life outside of work. But most corporations and other employees value strong time management skills.

Set Yourself Up for a Rewarding Career 

We've already mentioned how demand for mathematicians and statisticians is projected to grow by 31 percent in the next decade, but let's examine your prospective job outlook a little more closely.

The BLS data highlights strongest expected growth for statisticians, at around 33 percent; compare this to all other occupations in the U.S., which are predicted at an average of around 5 percent growth. In a challenging economic climate, this will help provide you with the greatest chance of securing a role after graduation.

We've also touched on how the median salary for such professionals is almost $100,000, but those with significant experience can expect much more. In 2021, the highest-paid 10 percent of professionals in this field were earning more than $157,000.

The most lucrative roles tend to be reserved for professionals working in technical and scientific services, with the lowest-paid individuals employed in academic institutions or healthcare facilities.

Furthering Your Career in Math

Working in a role that directly draws on your knowledge of math will help you grow and develop in your career. That said, this is a field where new theories and developments emerge continuously, so you'll need to keep up with developments in the industry.

Some jobs may even require you to get regular continuing education so that you can use the most up-to-date mathematical knowledge. Others may make it a prerequisite to be considered for promotions in your organization.

There are a number of options available for continuing with your education. Some people choose to return to college for study at a doctoral (PhD) level, though this comes at a significant time and cost investment.

Alternative options include seeking a fellowship program through the American Mathematical Society or similar organizations. Of course, in some cases, your employer may also offer to cover some of the cost of studying toward further qualifications.

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About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

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