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Careers in Mathematics

This page contains some information about possible careers in mathematics. There are also some links to other sources of career information at the end of the page.

Mathematicians are employed as mathematicians primarily in the areas of teaching, government, finance and industry. Industries employ mathematicians doing statistical and actuarial work (for example the financial and insurance industry, and healthcare), in accounting, computer software, and in engineering-related industries, like aerospace. Many mathematicians plan to enter other professions upon graduation, and many attend graduate or professional school in other areas (for example law, medicine, economics or physics). Much more detailed information about career options can be found at the websites of the mathematics professional societies (the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematics Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics).

Preparation for a career in teaching depends upon the level to be taught. In Oregon, a high school teacher is currently expect to have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they wish to teach, and a master’s degree in something (typically education). For community college or junior college, a master’s degree in mathematics is generally required, and for 4-year colleges or universities a Ph.D. is required.

There are a challenging set of hurdles for students wishing to do actuarial work (employed by insurance companies, pension plans, HMOs, etc., actuaries use probability and statistics to predict the rates which need to be charged to keep these programs sufficiently funded). A large part of the training is done on the job after the candidate attains a bachelor’s degree, but mastery of single and multivariable calculus and statistics is helpful. At present the field is uncrowded and represents an excellent chance for a mathematician to get into management. For more information about becoming an actuary, see the link Becoming an Actuary.

Many other industries count on training their employees themselves. They are looking for someone with mathematical ability who is trained in thinking analytically. The best way to prepare for such jobs is to discuss your career goals with your advisor and work out a program heavy in applied mathematics or statistics. In addition, some computer programming skills will be an asset in almost any job a mathematician is likely to have.

For further information, students are encouraged to consult with a counselor at the UO Career Center (220 Hendricks Hall).