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Math Degree

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Overview of the Field of Math

Math is defined as the abstract representation of numbers and functions used to identify theorems, formulas, and proofs that represent numeric theory or real world applications.  Individuals in this field work to prove or disprove ideas, utilizing machines and models in order to properly and accurately do their work.  Mathematicians can work in a variety of industries from academia to construction management in private and public institutions.  Below you will find a comprehensive overview of mathematics along with resources to quickly connect with the best math degree for you.

Top Math Degrees

With a variety of math degrees to choose from, students should take the time to understand the essential elements of each.  From undergraduate degrees to graduate degrees, each type will provide students with essential tools to a successful career.  In addition to the traditional classroom-based degree programs, many accredited colleges and universities also offer online degrees in math.  We will cover both learning modalities below to help provide insight and easy access to prospective students of all levels.

Bachelor’s Degree in Math

Online bachelor degrees in math are conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA).  The Bachelor of Science track is the traditional math track providing essential tools for students suited for mathematical sciences.  The Bachelor of Arts track, on the other hand, can be utilized by students to prepare for a future in teaching, philosophy, or business with a bent towards liberal arts education.  Liberal arts classes can include communications, psychology, history, and sociology to help provide students with a well-rounded education.

Core classes in the standard mathematics degree track will vary slightly from school to school.  However, most students will have the opportunity to study the following types of classes: mathematical reasoning, calculus, matrix algebra, differential equations, advanced multivariable, modern algebra, real analysis, numerical analysis, probability, topology, optimization, geometry, complex analysis, and combinatorics.

Master’s Degree in Math

Traditional on-site programs and online master degrees in math can be conferred as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) as a function of curricular design.  In addition to the MA or MS tracks, students may be offered the ability to choose between a thesis program or non-thesis program.  The non-thesis track will require students to take additional classes in a core area of study in lieu of completing the thesis project.  Graduates from a mater’s degree program in mathematics with either continue on to earn a PhD degree or join the workforce in a variety of math-based specialties.

Doctorate Degree in Math

Doctorate degrees in mathematics are conferred as a PhD and are known as terminal degrees with no degrees beyond it.  Students in a PhD program will select an area of specialization as part of their degree track.  Concentrations in math at the doctorate level can include: algebraic topology, complex analysis, algebraic geometry, combinatorics, partial differential equations, noncommunicative algebra, number theory, non-smooth analysis, numerical analysis, probability, representation theory, optimization, and differential geometry.

Education Requirements for Mathematicians

Mathematics allows individuals to pursue degrees at all levels, though one of the most common for individuals actually interested in a career in math is a master’s degree. Individuals in this field will first learn the various different mathematical forms, as well their associated formulae, in order to be able to apply that knowledge at more theoretical levels in the future. Modern mathematicians also utilize computer programs and models to perform high level calculations that may otherwise take too long or be impossible.

A curriculum may include:

  • Calculus
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Theoretical Mathematics

Mathematics as a degree may be pursued at most any school, though some schools excel at providing students with opportunities to explore math as a field, and others having ties to private sector businesses that may have use for talented individuals within the field. As a result, individuals searching for an ideal school should consider what opportunities external to the core education are offered when narrowing their list of schools.

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Employment Opportunities for Math Majors

Job growth in mathematics is expected to grow by 21% in the coming decade which is over three times the national average.  The median annual income for mathematicians is $105,810 according to the BLS.  Compensation will be a function of skills, work experience, organizational structure, geographic location, and effort.  As computer integration continues to take hold in the field, there will be increased opportunities in fields that require both an understanding of computers and mathematics, such as data analyses, statistical research and others for agencies that gather such information.

Best Paying Jobs for Math Majors

If you are wondering what you can do with a math degree from an accredited college or university, suffice it to say the options are numerous.  In fact, a career in math can take you into disparate fields such as healthcare or investment banking by leveraging a set of critical thinking and transferrable skills.  Below you will find a list of the top 10 best paying jobs for math majors:

  1. Physicist: In its simplest terms, a physicist will study the various ways matter and energy interact through technical equipment such as cutting-edge lasers, particle accelerators, and electron microscopes. Mean annual income for a physicist is $114,870 with the top ten percent nudging up to $200,000 a year in total compensation.
  2. Nuclear Engineer: Nuclear engineers utilize radiation and nuclear energy to create innovative systems and processes for the medical and business community.  With an average income of $102,220 a year, a nuclear engineer is paid well above the national median income of $37,040.
  3. Actuary: Actuaries use math and mathematical principles to assess risk and financial uncertainty.  Professional actuaries are utilized with a great degree to mitigate uncertainty in the insurance and finance sectors.  Median annual income for an actuary is $100,610 with professionals in Colorado and New York averaging close to $150,000 a year.
  4. Computer Systems Analyst: Systems analysts will study computers and their configurations to optimize efficiencies. The assessment includes processes, procedures, data flow, and security measures in a network or corporate ecosystem.  Median annual income for a computer systems analyst is $87,220 with the top 25% of professionals making $111,040 on average.
  5. Database Administrator: DBA’s or database administrators use software and hardware to organize, store, and access data securely. The annual mean income of a database administrator is $87,130 with the top ten percent making $129,930 a year.
  6. Computer Programmer: Programmers write code and design software applications that power technology of all kinds. From phones to desktop computers, a computer programmer will be one of the central professionals to bring ideas to life through computer coding.  Mean annual income for a computer programmer is $85,180 with the top ten percent averaging $130,360 annually.
  7. Financial Analyst: Analysts in the finance world help individuals and corporations make sense of financial data.  By leveraging math and insightful algorithms, they cull data from the market to help others make sense of the future.  A financial analyst averages $81,760 a year with the bottom ten percent averaging just over fifty-thousand dollars and the top 10% making $165,100 on average.
  8. Statistician: A statistician leverages math and various statistical methods to assemble and analyze data to resolve issues in a wide variety of business, healthcare, and political matters. The median income for a statistician is $80,500 with the top 10% averaging $130,090 and the bottom ten percent averaging just over forty-six thousand dollars a year.
  9. College Professor: University and college professors in mathematics average $75,430 a year.   Professors with a graduate degree in mathematics can teach a variety of classes from financial accounting to physics depending on your area of emphasis and needs of the school.
  10. Survey Researcher: By designing targeted surveys, a survey researcher collects and organizes data into meaningful terms. From elections to salary information, surveys are a key data analysis tool we rely upon every day that is underpinned my math.  Annual income for a survey researcher is $54,470 with the top ten percent averaging just over $100,000 a year.

Additional Resources for Mathematicians

A variety of non-profit organizations and associations exist within the domain of mathematics.  Students and graduates may benefit from joining associations to help broaden their body of knowledge, network, and help advance their respective careers.  Examples of top ranked associations include the Mathematical Association of America (MMA), School Science and Math Association (SSMA),  and the National Association of Math Circles (NAMC).

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