Why should you major in mathematics?
Because you enjoy math and/or are good at
What more reason do you need?
A piece of advice: Choose to study
something that you enjoy and that you find challenging! This will make
for a rich and rewarding undergraduate experience.
Okay, I can already hear you asking, "But
what can I DO with a degree in math?"
Besides the obvious answer (teaching), there
are many career tracks available in both industry and government:
Many graduates with degrees in mathematics
work in the computer industry. A combination of strong mathematical skills
along with a background in programming opens up outstanding job
prospects. At SPU, we have a specially
designed major in computational mathematics designed specifically for this
The U.S. government employs many
people with math degrees as statisticians in
If you are interested in teaching,
mathematics is an excellent field with great employment
opportunities. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor
Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified
teachers in some subjects—mathematics, science (especially chemistry
and physics), bilingual education, and computer science. Specialties
that currently have an abundance of qualified teachers include general
elementary education, physical education, and social studies.
Rated Almanac by Les Krantz ranked 250 jobs based on salary, work environment, security, stress
level, physical demands, and outlook. Three career tracks that
require a degree in mathematics or statistics were ranked among the top
11 jobs: Actuary was ranked #2,
Statistician was #9, and Mathematician was #11. Furthermore, many
people with math degrees are also employed in three of the other top ten
jobs: Software Engineer (#6), Computer Systems Analyst (#4), and
Financial Planning (#3). So a math degree opens up some
outstanding career paths!
What is an actuary?
An actuary is someone who applies a mathematical mind to
solving long-term financial problems, primarily in connection with
insurance, pensions and investment. The distinctive feature of the
actuary's approach is that it involves the evaluation of risk.
Actuaries are essential to insurance companies where they perform task
ranging from the calculation of premiums to researching appropriate ways
to invest the company's assets.
Aside from the traditional area of employment in insurance companies,
actuaries also work in a variety of other areas. A large number of
actuaries work as consultants providing professional advice relating to
pension funds and other employee benefits. Other areas where actuaries
work include the stock exchange and the government.
Actuaries draw upon a wide variety of skills which often range beyond
traditional actuarial ideas. These may include areas such as marketing,
the environment, law or computers.
Actuaries are highly paid. The difficultly in qualifying as an actuary
restricts the supply, while there is a growing demand for the services of
actuaries. The actuaries job often carries with it a large amount of
responsibility for significant amounts of money. For these and other
reasons actuaries tend to have high incomes.
The actuarial career is challenging, but it is also highly satisfying.
"As a profession we are apt to be accurate, cautious, consistent,
and reticent, and in these lies our strength; but if they do not leave
enough room for impulse and imagination, they can be a weakness. The
actuary who is only an actuary is not an actuary." -- Frank
For more information about actuarial careers, visit the "What
is an Actuary?" page at beanactuary.org.