Mathematics-Related Professions
Why Choose a Mathematics-Related Profession ?
Mathematics teaches patience, discipline, and step-by-step problem-solving skills. For those with a substantial
background in mathematics, an unlimited number of career opportunuities are available. According to Jobs
Rated Almanac , a 1990 publication of World Almanac Books of New York, NY, careers that require a very strong
background in mathematics were listed as the five "best" jobs. They were :
- software engineer
- actuary
- computer systems analyst
- computer programmer
- mathematician
Almost all of the top fifty jobs in this "best" jobs list involved mathematical reasoning and knowledge. This list was
the result of the comparison of two hundred fifty jobs classified according to :
- income
- future outlook
- physical demands
- job security
- stress
- work environment
A List of Professions
The following list briefly describes work associated with some mathematics-related professions :
- actuary-- assemble and analyze statistics to calculate probabilities of death, sickness, injury, disability,
unemployment, retirement, and property loss; design insurance and pension plans and ensure that they are
maintained on a sound financial basis
- mathematics teacher-- introduce students to the power and beauty of mathematics in elementary, junior
high, or high school mathematics courses
- operations research analyst-- assist organizations (manufacturers, airlines, military) in developing the
most efficient, cost-effective solutions to organizational operations and problems; this includes strategy, forecasting,
resource allocation, facilities layout, inventory control, personnel schedules, and distribution systems
- statistician-- collect, analyze, and present numerical data resulting from surveys and experiments
- physician-- diagnose patient illnesses, prescribe medication, teach classes, mentor interns, and do
clinical research; students with a good mathematics background will find themselves being admitted to the best
medical schools and discover that mathematics has prepared them well for the discipline, analysis, and problem-
solving required in the field of medicine
- research scientist-- model atmospheric conditions to gain insight into the effect of changing emissions
from cars, trucks, power plants, and factories; apply these models in the development of alternative fuels
- computer scientist-- interface the technology of computers with the underlying mathematical principles
of such diverse applications as medical diagnoses, graphics animation, interior design, cryptogrraphy, and parallel
computers
- inventory strategist-- analyze historical sales data, model forecast uncertainty to design contingency
plans, and analyze catalog displays to make them more successful; analyze consumer responses
- staff systems air traffic control analyst-- apply probability, statistics, and logistsics to air traffic control
operations; use simulated aircraft flight to monitor air traffic control computer systems
- cryptologist-- design and analyze schemes used to transmit secret information
- attorney-- research, comprehend, and apply local, state, and federal laws; a good background in
mathematics will help a student get admitted to law school and assist in the understanding of complicated theoretical
legal concepts
- economist-- interpret and analyze the interrelationships among factors which drive the economics of a
particular organization, industry, or country
- mathematics professor-- teach mathematics classes, do theoretical research, and advise undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities
- environmental mathematician-- work as member of interdisciplinary team of scientists and professionals
studying problems at specific Superfund sites; communicate effectively across many academic discilplines and be able to
summarize work in writing
- robotics engineer-- combine mathematics, engineering, and computer science in the study and design
of robots
- geophysical mathematician -- develop the mathematical basis for seismic imaging tools used in the
exploration and production of oil and gas reservoirs
- design -- use computer graphics and mathematical modeling in the design and construction of
physical prototypes; integrate geometric design with cost-effective manufacturing of resulting products
- ecologist -- study the interrelationships of organisms and their environments and the underlying
mathematical dynamics
- geodesist -- study applied science involving the precise measurement of the size and shape of the earth and its gravity field (courtesy of Bruce Hedquist)
- photogrammetrist -- study the applied science of multi-spectral
image acquisition from terrestrial, aerial and satellite camera platforms,
followed up by the image processing, analysis, storage, display, and
distribution in various hard-copy and digital format (courtesy of Bruce Hedquist)
- civil engineer -- plan, design, and manage the construction of land vehicle, aircraft, water, and energy transport systems; analyze
and control systems for land vehicular traffic; analyze
and control environmental systems for
sewage and water treatment; develop sites for industrial, commercial and
residential home use; analyze
and control systems for storm water drainage and storage; manage construction of foundations,
structures and buildings; analyze construction materials ; and surface
soils and subterranean material analysis (courtesy of Bruce Hedquist)
- geomatics engineer -- once known as "surveying engineer", includes
geodetic surveying : takes into account the size and shape of the earth, in
order to determine the precise horizontal and vertical positions of
geodetic reference monuments; cadastral surveying : establishes and
reestablishes the reference monuments for the U.S. Public Land Survey
System, i.e., township and section corners; topographic surveying :
determines the detailed configuration or contour of the natural earth's
surface and the position of fixed objects thereon or related thereto;
hydrographic surveying : similarly determines underwater contours and
features; land surveying : is the location of existing parcel and new land
subdivision lines, road and utility rights-of-way and easement lines, and
determination of the location of existing and new reference monuments,
which mark property lines and parcel corners; land surveying : also involves
the preparation of legal descriptions for officially recorded land
ownership conveyance deeds and other land title documents; construction
surveying : is the determination of the direction and length between and the
elevations of reference points for fixed private and public works, as
embraced within the definition and practice of civil engineering, and the
labeling of reference markers containing critical information for the
construction thereof; design, operation and management of
advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS and Land Information Systems
(LIS), as well as other sophisticated computer mapping and CAD based
geospatial applications (courtesy of Bruce Hedquist)
Employers
There are many public and private employers who hire some of the above-mentioned professionals. Besides schools,
colleges, universities, and many state and federal agencies, some specific employers include the Internal Revenue Service,
U. S. Census Bureau, Ford Motor Co., Transamerica Insurance Co., Jet Propulsion Laboratory, L. L. Bean, IBM Corporation,
Center for Communications Research, Sandia National Laboratories, A. C. Nielsen Co., American Airlines, U. S. Department
of Energy, Exxon Production Research Co., United Airlines, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Prudential Securities, International
Computer Science Institute, National Security Agency, Silicon Graphics, Control Data Corporation, U. S. Geological Survey, Renaissance Software, Goddard Space Flight Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and U. S. Department of
Agriculture.
A Career in the Mathematical Sciences is Not for You ?
Even if you do not choose a career in the mathematical sciences, studying as much mathematics as you can is a good
way to keep your career options open. Mathematics is an excellent foundation for, and is usually a prerequisite to, study
in all areas of science and engineering. Students in such areas as anthropology, sociology, and psychology, as well as
law, business, and medicine, also benefit from a solid background in mathematics and statistics. It will help you to
better understand science and technology and their effects on our world.
Some of the above information is generously provided by The Mathematical Association of America
( MAA ) and the Association for Women in Mathematics
( AWM ) .
Find additonal information about teaching of mathematics at the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators
( AMTE )
Please e-mail your comments , questions, or suggestions to Duane Kouba at
kouba@math.ucdavis.edu .