Mathematicians usually work in academia or as part of a team of other professionals that may include physicists, economists, engineers or computer scientists.
Some mathematicians carry out research to advance mathematical techniques and methods while others use mathematical concepts to solve practical problems in a number of fields.
A degree in mathematics opens the door to many job types. Mathematicians often have the expertise to branch out into such areas as finance, statistics, biology, computer science, engineering and aerodynamics.
A doctorate degree in mathematics is usually the minimum requirement for positions in the field, especially in private industries or universities. However, those with a master’s degree in mathematics can obtain jobs in related fields. Some entry-level positions with the Federal Government only require a bachelor’s degree for consideration.
There are two main classes of mathematicians, and their career paths tend to follow suit:
First there is the applied mathematician, who uses mathematical theories and computational methods to solve “real world” problems. Applied mathematicians may work in engineering, the government, law-enforcement, life sciences, pharmacology or the military.
Theoretical Mathematicians, on the other hand, develop new mathematical principals and theories and expand existing ones. Most theoretical mathematicians work solely in research and teaching faculty positions with universities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, mathematicians working in computer systems design and related services earned the highest salary in 2007, with an annual mean wage of $105,830. Those working with the Federal Executive Branch or in scientific research and development followed with annual mean salaries of $97,530 and $97,300 respectively. Mathematicians in applied mathematics jobs such as engineering earned an annual mean salary of $94,120. Those working at universities earned a mean annual salary of $66,100.
The U.S. Department of Labor expects competition to be strong for mathematician careers. However, jobs should grow by 10 percent through 2016. Mathematician jobs tend to be more plentiful as technology advances. Those with doctorate degrees in mathematics will enjoy the most job opportunities in the field.