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Mathematics Careers

Career Description

Mathematicians conduct research in fundamental mathematics or in application of mathematical techniques to science,  management, and other fields. Solve or direct solutions to problems in various fields by mathematical methods.

Common Work Tasks

  • Use mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms, and the latest computer technology to solve economic,  scientific, engineering, physics, and business problems
  • Advance mathematical knowledge by developing new principles and recognizing previously unknown relationships between existing principles of mathematics
  • Use theories and techniques, such as mathematical modeling and computational methods, to formulate and solve practical problems in business, government, engineering, and the physical,  life, and social sciences
  • Analyze the most efficient way to schedule airline routes between cities, the effects and safety of new drugs, the aerodynamic characteristics of an experimental automobile, or the cost-effectiveness of alternative manufacturing processes
  • Develop or enhance mathematical methods when solving a difficult problem
  • Analyze and decipher encryption systems—codes—designed to transmit military, political, financial, or law enforcement-related information
  • Use computers to analyze relationships among variables and solve complex problems by developing models with alternative solutions
  • Collaborate with other workers in the organization to find common solutions to problems

Other Job Titles

Mathematicians are also known by other titles, including:

  • Mathematical Technicians
  • Statisticians
  • Actuaries
  • Physicists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A Ph.D. degree in mathematics usually is the minimum educational requirement for prospective mathematicians, except in the Federal Government,  where entry-level job candidates usually must have at least a bachelor’s degree with a major in mathematics or 24 semester hours of mathematics courses.

For jobs in applied mathematics, training in the field in which mathematics will be used is very important. Mathematics is used extensively in physics, actuarial science,  statistics, engineering, and operations research. Computer science, business and industrial management, economics, finance, chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences are likewise dependent on applied mathematics. Mathematicians also should have substantial knowledge of computer programming, because most complex mathematical computation and much mathematical modeling are done on a computer.

Mathematicians need to have good reasoning to identify, analyze, and apply basic principles to technical problems. Communication skills also are important, as mathematicians must be able to interact and discuss proposed solutions with people who may not have extensive knowledge of mathematics.


The median annual salary of a Mathematician is $90,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $133,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $51,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of mathematicians are:

  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $97,300
  • Federal Executive Branch- $97,530
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools- $66,100
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services - $86,520
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $94,120

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  10%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 300
  • Employment 2006 : 3,000
  • Employment 2016:  3,300
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