A Number of Options Open for Graduates
There's more you can do with a degree in math beyond returning to the classroom as a teacher, although it may suit you and your family to tutor on a part-time basis. Employers and graduate programs are looking for individuals who love numbers—and you can always help your children with their homework.
Why Major in Math?
Earning a degree in mathematics is challenging but, for people who love math, it's an interesting and rewarding endeavor. Math appeals to those who love to find solutions to problems and who appreciate the clarity that comes with getting the right answer. Math develops your analytical skills and your ability to work in a problem-solving environment. Those are pluses, whether you go into the workforce after finishing your bachelor's or if you go on for a higher degree.
As an undergraduate major, math is great preparation for professional programs like medicine, law or business. It can help you score well on the graduate school entrance exams (MCAT, LSAT or GMAT) that such programs require.
Job Options Beyond Teaching
There are many applications for a math degree beyond teaching. PayScale.com reports that math-related majors consistently rank among the top-paying jobs at entry and mid-career level jobs. Here are some careers to consider:
- Actuary: Assess and manage risk by helping businesses analyze their spending. Actuaries also estimate the probability of events and the costs associated if the events occur. Many actuaries find employment in the insurance industry. Individuals with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in math must pass a series of professional exams administered through either the Casualty Actuarial Society or Society of Actuaries.
- Bookkeeper: Use spreadsheets and bookkeeping software to create and maintain financial records. Bookkeepers generally work with or under the supervision of accountants.
- Computer Systems Analyst: Help organizations make their computer systems better match clients' needs. As part of your coursework for the math degree, you should take some classes in information science.
- Database Administrator: Manage the computer systems that collect, store and organize data. In addition to the math degree, you may need certification in certain types of software.
- Logistician: Analyze and coordinate an organization's supply chain. In this role, you'll manage the entire life cycle of a product, from materials acquisition to distribution, allocation and delivery.
- Operations Research Analyst: Use mathematical and analytical skills to identify and solve problems that lead to better decision-making.
- Statistician: Collect and analyze data to spot trends, make predictions and solve problems. Degrees beyond the bachelor's open up more opportunities in research and in the corporate world.
Mathematical economics is the application of mathematical methods to analyze problems in economics. A number of academic institutions offer the bachelor of science degree with a combined major of mathematics and economics. Coursework typically includes higher calculus, statistics, game theory and micro- and macroeconomics. Individuals generally pursue this degree as preparation for doctoral studies in economics.
Master's Degrees in Mathematics
The Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics is for those with a bachelor's degree in math or a related field. Coursework includes content-specific classes, classes in pedagogy and educational psychology along with field-based experience.
The Master of Science in Mathematics encompasses a broad range of specialty fields, including modeling, financial math, computing, logic and statistics. Job opportunities are similar to those available if you have only a bachelor's degree but with higher levels of responsibility and correspondingly higher levels of pay.
Mathematics Majors Have Higher Earning Power
Salaries for math majors vary depending on geographic location, level of education and job title. In general, graduates with bachelor's degrees in math or one of the sciences earn $15,000 more in entry-level positions that those with degrees in the humanities or social sciences.
Denise Dayton, M.Ed., M.S. teaches career readiness and workplace success, along with other business courses, at a small college in New England.