Believe it or not, your geometry teacher was right-there are uses for math in the real world! In fact, you can make a career of it. Working as a professional in this field isn't about hunching over a desk writing proofs or punching equations into your graphing calculator (not entirely, anyway). While theory and proofs may have use, math has essential, practical applications in every industry and is fundamental to much of it. And though mathematics skills are a part of many careers, for jobs in this category they are the heart of the work. If you have a passion for numbers or an affinity for calculations, a career in this field may be a good fit!

Much of mathematics work is identifying problems and finding solutions. Mathematicians, statisticians, and operation research analysts all contribute work towards this goal. Workers help set goals and possibilities, determine risk, and calculate rates of success; statisticians, in particular, are needed in most job categories. Careers in this category offer opportunities in the business world, the healthcare industry, and research and development, among others. And even though fewer professions belong to the category, job growth in this industry is increasing.

Responsibilities for these jobs may include:

  • Compiling data from a variety of sources
  • Providing cost/benefit analyses for different options for business
  • Creating surveys and other tools to collect data and information from participants
  • Evaluating risks and possibilities based on statistics and mathematical projections
  • Creating spreadsheets, charts, presentations, and reports explaining the findings colleagues and coworkers
  • Presenting and contributing theories and/or findings in academic and business environments
  • Researching new methods, theories, and applications


The path to a career in this category depends less on what your skills are than how you want to use them.

A four-year college degree is not typically necessary, but future workers still need a thorough education. Just how thorough depends on the kind of mechanist, machinist, or technician you wish to be. Because several of these categories of focus involve critical and intricate work, workers frequently need licenses and certifications in order to work professionally. Graduation from a formal educational program can add to a resume when applying for jobs, because the employer knows the person has been thoroughly trained.

Enrolling in accredited training programs or schools can speed along the process, and can provide specific help in getting the future worker prepared for certification, licensing, and other requirements. Alternatively, on-the-job training may be offered, where the worker starts at an entry-level positions, learns as he or she works, until he or she is ready to be promoted or take exams for certification. For less complicated work, like with general household repair jobs, it may be enough for entry-level workers to shadow experienced ones and learn skills on the job. More formal apprenticeships may also be offered for longer periods.

To truly be proficient and efficient, the worker must have thorough understanding of the materials and technology he or she works with, along with detailed knowledge about safety rules, policies, and practices. The training doesn't truly end for this occupation. As technology continues to evolve, workers must keep up to date with new models, applications, and technologies. This may require additional classes or training, or simply self-education.


  • Analytical skills Analysis is a fundamental aspect of these careers, needed or useful in all aspects of the work. They must be able to gather the data to begin with, and strategize how to extract and compile the information they need. Workers must then be able to analyze data and information to determine what it means practically speaking, and this involves turning numbers and equations into options and actions.
  • Communication skills. You may be educated in mathematics, but your coworkers (or boss) may not be. Even with colleagues, workers need to be able to communicate strategies, theories, conclusions, and ideas in clear and competent language.
  • Math skills. This is-hopefully-self-explanatory!
  • Problem-solving skills. Math plays many roles in the professional world, whether calculating risk, evaluating opportunities, or analyzing data. Problem-solving, however, may be what it does best. Workers use math to analyze problems and develop solutions in many different fields, but the worker himself (or herself) needs excellent problem-solving skills. Math provides the tools but the worker must know how to use them.


Job growth in this occupation category is expected to be significantly higher than the national average for all jobs, over the next several years. While this is definitely encouraging, job seekers should examine prospects of the specific career in which they are interested. Despite substantial growth overall, the number of job opportunities for a career may still be limited. For example, job openings for mathematicians is calculated to increase 23% over a ten year period, this will only amount to about 800 new jobs. Competition for jobs can still be fierce even with these kinds of growth.

  Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
Actuaries Actuaries

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.'

Bachelor's degree $93,680
Mathematicians Mathematicians

Mathematicians use advanced mathematics to develop and understand mathematical principles, analyze data, and solve real-world problems.'

Master's degree $101,360
Operations research analysts Operations research analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.'

Bachelor's degree $72,100
Statisticians Statisticians

Statisticians use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, the sciences, or other fields.'

Master's degree $75,560

    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/web1svr3/public_html/ on line 70
Back to top