Mathematics forms the foundation on which many academic disciplines are based on. Some disciplines rely more strongly on the principles of applied or theoretical math than others. Academic disciplines that have mathematics as a part of their foundation are engineering, computer science, physics, economics and finance. These are not necessarily the only disciplines where math plays an important role. There are many fields and professions that use math theories for their operations, valuations and analysis.
Mathematics is divided into two categories – Theoretical Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.
Theoretical mathematicians are the ones mainly responsible for the advancements made in mathematical knowledge. They do this by bringing new developments in the principles of math and providing recognition to previously unidentified relationships. Their main aim is to increase basic math knowledge regardless of its practical use. Theoretical math has been useful in inventing or improving many engineering and scientific achievements. Theoretical mathematicians are usually employed as faculty in universities and they divide their time between teaching and research work.
Applied mathematicians rely both on theory as well technique to formulate and solve practical real life issues in areas such as business, government, engineering, physical, life and social sciences. To give an example, an applied mathematician can work with airline companies to find the most efficient way to schedule a particular airline’s fleet of planes and their routes or work with manufacturing companies on a more cost efficient alternative method for a given manufacturing process.
Military is another big employer of mathematicians. Applied mathematicians are preferred when it comes to working with encryption systems, analyzing and deciphering codes, design and develop systems designed to transmit information
With a degree in mathematics, one could look at the following areas
- Armed forces
- Aeronautics and Space research
- Finance and Financial Markets
- Nuclear Science
That said, many professionals that work in the above mentioned areas may not be holding a math degree, yet they use math to a large extent in their professional lives. In fact many colleges or universities advice their students, majoring in mathematics, to undertake courses that have a base of mathematics such as computer science, engineering, physics, chemistry, statistics, business management, life sciences and geology.
Getting your Ph.D brings with it many advantages. For one, Job prospects with a Ph.D in mathematics are pretty high in the private sector. With only a bachelor’s degree, a government job could be an option but keep in mind that a bachelor’s degree will only get you an entry level position with the Federal Government. As per the stats provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 81% of mathematicians are employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and NASA. Besides the Federal Government, a Ph.D in mathematics will provide jobs in the following industries or sectors
- Actuarial Valuation companies
- Banks and other financial institutions (Statisticians are widely used in this sector)
- Information Technology Companies
- Insurance companies
- Companies building large scale security systems
- Architecture and Engineering enterprises
The above listing is not necessarily a complete one. Even within the above mentioned industries there are numerous areas that require the expertise and skills of a well qualified mathematician. In the end though, to increase your chances of getting a good break as far as your career is concerned, it is preferred to also do other courses along with majoring in mathematics. This really works in getting a better paying job and gives you a more wider reach when it comes to opportunities.
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