Mathematical Careers

A study released by CareerCast.com, a new job site, and published in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 6, 2009 ranks 200 careers from best to worst. The study ranked each of the careers using five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, and stress. The rankings are based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations. The sum of these rankings gave each career an overall score which was used to rank the careers from 1 to 200. A detailed description of the methodology used in ranking the careers can be found at http://www.careercast.com/jobs/content/JobsRated_Methodology.

The top three ranked careers were all mathematical in nature, Mathematician was ranked #1 with an overall score of 104 and an average salary of $94,160, Actuary was ranked #2 with an overall score of 128 and an average salary of $88,146, and Statistician was ranked #3 with an overall score of 152 and an average salary of $72,197. Other scientific careers in the study's top 20 ranked careers include, Biologist ranked #4 with an overall score of 153 and an average salary of $74,273, Software Engineer ranked #5 with an overall score of 178 and an average salary of $86,139, Computer Systems Analyst ranked #6 with an overall score of 182 and an average salary of $75,160, Physicist ranked #13 with an overall score of 230 and an average salary of $100,140, #15 Meteorologist, average salary of $81,234), Computer Programmer ranked #18 with an overall score of 249 and an average salary of $70,176, and astronomer ranked #20 with an overall score of 255 and an average salary of $102,233. The complete list of job rankings can be found at http://www.careercast.com/jobs/content/JobsRated_Top200Jobs. The latest rankings for 2012 can be found at http://www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/2012-ranking-200-jobs-best-worst.

Summaries of some of the careers that are available for mathematics majors are described below. Math majors learn how to express themselves logically, how to use mathematics and technology to solve numerical problems, and how to use statistics to analyze quantitative information. The work of mathematicians falls into two broad categories, theoretical (pure) mathematics and applied mathematics, however these categories, are not sharply defined and often overlap. Most jobs as a mathematician require an advanced degree, either an MA Math or an MS Math, or a PhD in Math. The Math department at San Jose State University offers a BA Math degree, which our most flexible degree and it is likely more suitable for students interested in pure mathematics or pursuing an advanced degree in mathematics. Math majors at San Jose State have gone on to get advanced degrees (Masters and PhDs) at various universities, including Arizona State U., UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford U., U. Oregon, U. Illinois, U. Wisconsin, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis.

Mathematicians often work at research and development laboratories in interdisciplinary teams that may include economists, engineers, computer scientists, physicists, technicians, and others. In private industry, candidates for mathematician jobs typically need a Ph.D., although there may be opportunities for those with a master’s degree. Many mathematicians are employed as university faculty, dividing their time between teaching and conducting research. BA Math and MA/MS Math majors at San Jose State have gone on to become professors at various universities, including Caltech, SUNY Stony Brook, U. Wisconsin, Fresno State, CSU Chico, Santa Clara U., CSU East Bay, Sonoma State U., and San Jose State University. Employment of mathematicians is expected to increase by 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More information about a career as a mathematician can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Mathematicians.htm and also at the Sloan Career Cornerstone http://www.careercornerstone.org/mathematics/mathematics.htm. Further information about mathematical careers can be found at websites of the Mathematical Association of America http://www.maa.org/careers/, and the American Mathematical Society http://www.ams.org/early-careers/.

Applied Math Careers

At San Jose State University we offer a BS Applied and Computational Math Degree with three different emphases. The BS Applied and Computational Math, Emphasis in Applied Math is the best degree for students interested in careers as an applied mathematician.

Applied Mathematicians use theories and techniques, such as mathematical modeling and computational methods, to formulate and solve problems in business, government, engineering, and the physical, life, andsocial sciences. Employment of mathematicians is expected to increase by 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More information about a career as a mathematician can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Mathematicians.htm and also at the Sloan Career Cornerstone http://www.careercornerstone.org/mathematics/mathematics.htm. Further information about careers in applied math can be found at website of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematicians http://www.siam.org/careers/.

The BS Applied and Computational Math, Emphasis in Economics, Finance, and Actuarial Science is the best degree for students interested in actuarial careers and for careers where mathematics is applied in business and finance.

Actuaries use their broad knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, to help design insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial strategies in a manner which will help ensure that they are maintained on a sound financial basis. Six out of ten actuaries work in the insurance industry where they assemble and analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property. Employment of actuaries is expected to increase by 27 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. More information about a career as an actuary can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Actuaries.htm and also at the Sloan Career Cornerstone http://www.careercornerstone.org/actuarialscience/actuarialscience.htm. Further information about actuarial careers can be found at http://www.beanactuary.org/.

The BS Applied and Computational Math, Emphasis in Statistics is the best degree for students interested in statistical careers and data analysis.

Statisticians apply their mathematical and statistical knowledge to the design of surveys and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data; and the interpretation of the experiment and survey results. Statisticians may apply their knowledge of statistical methods to a variety of subject areas, such as biology, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, education, and sports. Many economic, social, political, and military decisions cannot be made without statistical techniques, such as the design of experiments to gain Federal approval of a newly manufactured drug. Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for individuals with a background is statistics is expected to grow, although some jobs will be in occupations with titles other than “statistician.” More information about a career as a statistician can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Statisticians.htm and also at the Sloan Career Cornerstone http://www.careercornerstone.org/statistics/statistics.htm. Further information about statistical careers can be found at the website of the American Statistical Association http://www.amstat.org/careers/index.cfm or on Professor Crunk's web page http://www.math.sjsu.edu/~crunk/profession/. More information about statistics can also be found at http://www.sjsu.edu/statistics/.

Careers in Teaching Mathematics

Mathematics majors are also employed as teachers. Mathematics teachers at community colleges and part-time mathematics instructors at universities will generally need a Masters degree, MA Math or MS Math, and university professors will usually require a PhD degree. Elementary and middle school teachers usually require a multiple-subject teaching credential and secondary school mathematics teachers require a single-subject teaching credential in mathematics. Information about obtaining a teaching credential at San Jose State University can be found at the College of Education website http://www.sjsu.edu/secondaryed/ or http://www.sjsu.edu/education/credential/index.html. Mathematics majors interested in being secondary school math teachers should pursue a BA Math, Preparation for Teaching degree.

Postsecondary teachers teach at community colleges, colleges, and universities. Postsecondary teaching requires the ability to communicate ideas well, motivate students, and be creative. Postsecondary teachers are expected to grow by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020 which is about as fast as average. BA Math and MA/MS Math majors have gone on to teach at various community colleges, including Foothill, DeAnza, Ohlone, Las Positas, Los Medanos, Mission, San Jose City, San Mateo, Canada, West Valley, Laney, Contra Costa, Hartnell, and Gavilan College. Information about the MA/MS Math program at SJSU can be found on Professor Kubelka’s web page http://www.math.sjsu.edu/~kubelka/. More information about a career as a postsecondary teacher can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Postsecondary-teachers.htm.

Secondary and Middle School Teachers use classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts in mathematics. They plan, evaluate, and assign lessons; prepare, administer, and grade tests; listen to oral presentations; and maintain classroom discipline. Teachers observe and evaluate a student’s performance and are increasingly asked to use new assessment methods. Many teachers use a “hands-on” approach that uses “props” or “manipulatives” to help children understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thought processes. Employment of HS school teachers is expected to grow by 7% (slower than average) between 2010 and 2020 and for middle school teachers employment is expected to grow by about 17% between 2010 and 2020 (about as fast as average). Though the demand for math teachers will likely exceed the overall average. BA Math majors have gone on to teach at various high schools, including Fremont, Lost Altos, WC Overfelt, Independence, Menlo-Atherton, Pioneer, Blackford, Notre Dame, James Lick, Willow Glen, Evergreen Valley, and San Lorenzo Valley High. More information about a career as a secondary or middle school teacher can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm and http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm. Further information about careers in the teaching of mathematics can be found at the website of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics http://www.nctm.org/.

Computer-related Careers for Mathematics Majors

Mathematics majors with a strong background in computers and computer science are often hired as computer  programmers, computer systems analyst, or software engineer. The BS Applied and Computational Math,Emphasis in Applied Math is the best degree for students interested in computer-related mathematics careers. More information about computing careers can be found on the Association of Computing Machinery website at http://www.acm.org/. BS Applied and Computational Math majors have gone on to work at various technology companies, including, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Borland, Oracle, Adobe, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, ICAM, Toshiba Semiconductor, Atmel, and Credence, as well as many small start-up companies.

Computer Programmers write, test, and maintain the detailed instructions, called programs, that computers follow to perform their functions. Programmers also conceive and design programs for solving problems on a computer and to make computers do specific tasks. Employment of computer programmers is expected to grow by about 12 percent from 2010 to 2020 (about as fast as average). More information about a career as a computer programmer can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm.

Computer Systems Analyst solve computer problems and use computer technology to meet the needs of an organization. They plan and develop computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions by choosing and configuring hardware and software. Employment of computer systems analysts is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020 (faster than average). More information about a career as a computer systems analyst can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Computer-systems-analysts.htm.

Computer Software Developers apply the principles of computer science and mathematical analysis to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers work. The tasks performed by these workers evolve quickly, reflecting new areas of specialization or changes in technology, as well as the preferences and practices of employers. Software engineers can be involved in the design and development of many types of software, including computer games, word processing and business applications, operating systems and network distribution, and compilers, which convert programs to machine language for execution on a computer. Employment of computer software engineers is projected to increase by 30 percent over the 2010 to 2020 period (much faster than average). More information about a career as a computer software engineer can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-7.

Science-related Careers for Mathematics Majors

Mathematics majors with a strong background in science are sometimes hired as an engineer, a physicist, or an astronomer. The BS Applied and Computational Math emphasis in Applied Math is the best degree for students interested in applying mathematics in science and engineering. BS Applied and Computational Math majors have gone on to work at the following aerospace companies, NASA Ames, TRW, Lockheed Martin, ESL, Loral Space Systems, and Ford Aerospace. BS Applied and Computational Math majors have gone on to work at various research labs, including Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, HP Labs, IBM Research Labs and SRI International.

Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. Their work is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs. Overall engineering employment growth will vary widely depending on the field over the 2010-20 decade. More information about a career as an engineer can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Architecture-and-Engineering/home.htm.

Physicists and Astronomers conduct research to understand the nature of the universe. These researchers observe, measure, interpret, and develop theories to explain celestial and physical phenomena using mathematics. They study the fundamental properties of the natural world and apply the knowledge gained to design new technologies. Employment of physicists and astronomers is expected to grow at 14 percent, during the 2010-20 decade (about as fast as average). More information about a career as a physicist or an astronomer can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Physicists-and-astronomers.htm. Further information about careers in Physics can be found on the website of the American Physical Society at http://www.aps.org/careers/index.cfm.

Economics, Finance, and Business-related Careers for Mathematics Majors

Mathematics majors with a strong background in economics, finance, or business are sometimes hired as an operations research analyst, economist, Market and survey researcher, or financial analyst and personal financial advisor. The BS Applied and Computational Math emphasis in Economics, Finance, and Actuarial Science is the best degree for students interested in applying mathematics in economics, finance, or business. BS Applied and Computational Math majors have gone on to work at various businesses, including Barra, Hewitt Associates, HealthNet, Boeing, Environ Corp., General Electric, and Sportvision. BS Applied and Computational Math majors have gone on to work at various government agencies, including US Geological Survey, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the US Dept. of Engineering. Math majors at San Jose State have also gone on to be lawyers, MBAs, mayors, Fulbright fellows, inducted into the Inventor Hall of Fame, and to start their own companies.

Operations Research Analysts plan business ventures and analyze options by using statistical analysis, data and computer modeling, linear programming, and other mathematical techniques. Operations research analysts are often involved in top-level strategizing, planning, and forecasting. They help to allocate resources, measure performance, schedule, design production facilities and systems, manage the supply chain, set prices, coordinate transportation and distribution, or analyze large databases. Employment of operations research analysts is expected to grow 15 percent between 2010 and 2020 (about as fast as average). More information about a career as an operations research analyst can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Operations-research-analysts.htm. Further information about careers in Operations Research and Management Science can be found at the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences website at http://www.informs.org.

Economists study how society distributes resources, such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery, to produce goods and services. They may conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, or develop forecasts. Employment of economists is expected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020 (slower than average). More information about a career as an economist can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Economists.htm.

Market and Survey Researchers gather information to companies understand what types of products people want and at what price. They also help companies market their products to the people most likely to buy them. Gathering statistical data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution, they analyze data on past sales to predict future sales. Employment of market and survey researchers is projected to grow 41 percent from 2010 to 2020 (much faster than average). More information about a career as a market and survey researcher can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Market-research-analysts.htm.

Financial Analysts and Personal Financial Advisors provide analysis and guidance to businesses and individuals in making investment decisions. They gather financial information, analyze it, and make recommendations. As the level of investment increases, overall employment of financial analysts and personal financial advisors is expected to increase by 23 percent between 2010 and 2020 (faster than average). More information about a career as a financial analyst or a personal financial advisor can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm.