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Noobie's avatar

What are some job opportunities available to a mathematician?

Asked by Noobie (72points) December 6th, 2012

A couple years ago I graduated from a top university with a PhD in mathematics. I have always loved math and this is the path that I chose when I was in high school, however I have had difficulty finding the right job.

Perhaps because of being raised in a different culture it is very difficult for me to brag, but here is my attempt at a bit of bragging :-) I am a fairly good problem solver. e.g. I am pretty good at solving Math Olympiad and Putnam type problems. I have also had a decent performance in math competitions in high school and in college. I also was a member of my country’s IMO team and we were among the top 10 teams.

I have a few publications in pure mathematics but I have not been very successful in publication in recent years.

I have applied for a number of academic jobs but unfortunately I haven’t had much luck with that.

I have experience teaching math at different levels. I have taught at top universities and not-so-good universities, but I’d like to have a more reliable job. I am open to both academic and non-academic options.

I live in the US and plan to stay in the US but I am not a US citizen.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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19 Answers

_Whitetigress's avatar

Maybe you can apply to the U.S. military or become a professor (My professor is works stats out with the military and is also a part time professor)

zenvelo's avatar

Consider looking into jobs with investment banking firms that trade derivatives. The best options trading firms are looking for mathematicians that can create profitable algorithms to capture slight differences in price in similar assets.

Jeruba's avatar

@_Whitetigress, what does “is works stats out” mean?

gasman's avatar

Any interest in working as an actuary for the insurance industry?

fremen_warrior's avatar

greater than, or equal to, those of a linguist

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s what one of my nephews and his new bride are doing with his PhD in algebraic geometry and her Masters in another math field…I can’t remember what.


Rarebear's avatar

Stock market. Work for a hedge fund.

gailcalled's avatar

Teach in an independent day school at the high school level.,false

Lots of schools looking for math teachers on this link.

gorillapaws's avatar

There’s also programming work if you’re good at converting complex real-world behaviors/relationships into mathematical models/algorithms. This can be handy in a great many fields. You don’t need to be a fantastic coder, you just need to figure out how to mathematically model a behavior in a novel way. You could even do this proactively while looking for other work. Look at popular software, figure out something they’re not doing because it’s a mathematically difficult problem, solve it for them, then approach them with your solution.

One very complicated problem that’s on it’s way to getting sorted out is Latent Semantic Analysis/Mapping. It’s part of how Apple’s Siri voice recognition works, in terms of deriving meaning from text. I suspect over the next 10 years or so we will begin to see this problem solved for English, and also begin to see if implemented in other languages.

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JLeslie's avatar

Actuaries make a lot of money, which was already suggested by @gasman I second that idea.

Other ideas could be working in politics and in business, market research. Polling and working stats on demographics and psychographics.

I met someone who works numbers on planning schedules of fees for the airlines. Previous to that he worked for retailers to plan pricing and markdowns.

Maybe a software company that works on inventory and sales forecasting models. Inventory systems now forecast sales and alter stock needs automatically using previous year history and current trending.

Engineering firms, space program, is there a certain industry that appeals to you?

Shippy's avatar

Yes I agree with @JLeslie Actuarial Science pays well and sounds like your perfect job.

Noobie's avatar

Thank you all for suggestions. I’d like to work in an environment that appreciates my ability of solving problems and I can use this to perform my job.

gasman's avatar

FYI: Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need to Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy.

prasad's avatar

I don’t know exactly, but many mathematics graduates go into Operations Research, which is an applied field of mathematics to any real world problems. Applications vary from scheduling, logistics, investment decisions, etc. I have heard Operation Research Analysts can find jobs easily. Looking in this area might land you a lucrative job.

I am trying to solve University or College or Department class time table problem. Given many constraints, I am trying to figure out best time table alternative so as to minimize clashes, and eliminate them altogether at best.

I think you may try to find job in following areas: Astronomy, Research, Academics, Financial Institutions, Economic fields, Business Solutions, Supply Chain Management or logistics, Petroleum Industry (product mix type problems), scheduling problems (e.g. airline crew scheduling), IT sector, etc.

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Noobie's avatar

One of the problems is that I haven’t done anything applied. Almost all of the jobs that I have seen need either prior experience or a degree in applied subjects like statistics or applied math. I have tried applying for some of the jobs that were suggested here but had no luck. I don’t even get a feeling that anybody looks at my CV. Most responses that I get are just generic rejection responses.

I appreciate some more specific suggestions. Like, where do I look for these types of jobs?

@gailcalled Thank you for your suggestions. I looked at your links. Currently I am teaching at a low tier college, but it is not very satisfying to me. I don’t think I am ready to go even a level lower and teach at high school, but I don’t know.

gailcalled's avatar

@Noobie: A high-quality independent day school (belonging to The National Association of Independent Schools) has a very different selective student body than a low tier college.

It’s worth investigating before you dismiss the idea. See link above.

Noobie's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you. I will look into that.

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