“Prof”, “Efiwe”, “Einstein”: these are probably a few of the nicknames your mates gave you while you were studying mathematics in university. Imagine if they could see you now, wondering what you can do with a math degree. It probably feels like a “Prof of Maths in the mud” situation. But no worries, we are here to help you figure that out.
By the time you are through reading the information in this article, you will have all you need to calculate your options and solve this problem of not knowing what to do with your math degree (see what we did there, winks).
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Now, let’s talk about what a math degree can do for you.
What is the Relevance of a Math Degree fromToday?
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As a math major, you have probably heard the above question a lot, especially from people who don’t understand why you’re solving for “dy/dx”. While you might have been able to explain that it is a numeric science that employs various methods (like basic arithmetic and the almighty calculus and algebra) to investigate points, you might not have understood or explained its relevance to them adequately.
For one, being able to handle numbers is one essential skill that many businesses, government sectors and many STEM-related fields need. Hence, a math degree is very relevant. You can apply mathematical methods in building numerous technological solutions, making sense of big data, and in risk and economic management, among others.
Mathematicians are trained to analyse and solve challenging problems, including abstract ones. They also verify various hypotheses to give insights into nature and multiple concepts.
What to Do With A Math Degree
Maths is quite an exciting discipline that equips you with in-demand analytical, critical, numerical and quantitative thinking abilities. These are applicable in academia, as well as private and public sectors.
Hence, your math degree offers a wide variety of lucrative options of what you can do with it after you graduate. The fact that, relative to other similar disciplines, maths is mostly unspecialised also makes it extra flexible, versatile and marketable, even in specialised fields like medicine, law, manufacturing, etc.
Career Opportunities with a Math Degree
The following are some possible areas where you can build a career with your math degree from:
Statistics is one of the popular jobs that math graduates take, with good reason – you get to play around with numbers and quantitative data, applying various statistical tools, methods and models. Statisticians are in high demand in multiple industries across public and private sectors.
In addition, mathematics helps solve specific problems we face in the real world while assisting with decision-making. For instance, as a graduate, you may have employed the services of a statistician while carrying out your undergraduate final year project to make sense of the data you gathered.
The role of a statistician involves collating, arranging, analysing, and interpreting data collected through various research methods. They can then generate helpful information with the findings, after which they will communicate the results and insights to relevant stakeholders.
A statistician may also provide advisory services where necessary. Meanwhile, while good analytical skills form the core of statistics, you may also require IT and communication skills.
Banking is another excellent and common field for someone with a math degree. In case you are discouraged by the images you’ve seen about banking, especially, this goes way more than issuing out tellers to people in a queue in the banking hall (which is an essential aspect of banking, anyway).
However, from providing services to individuals, government and corporate organisations, bankers do a whole lot more structured work. You can apply your maths skills towards conducting market research, assessing the financial health of individuals and organisations, and creating strategic economic models that can improve their finances.
Math skills play a role in banking and business processes like lending, allocating shares and bonds, acquisitions and mergers, and even privatising public organisations and structures.
Accountancy is another lucrative field you can work in with your maths degree. It is also quite versatile, with various professions, including tax accountant, auditor (internal or external for private organisations and governments), and advising individuals and corporate organisations.
As an accountant, your role will include ensuring that financial reports are made and well maintained and that documents are accurate and compliant with the relevant industry regulations. Your role will also involve ensuring that taxes are filed and paid as and when due while identifying issues in financial processes and recommending strategies to solve them. Other aspects include forecasting, risk assessments and helping clients cut costs, increase revenue and maximise profits.
Note that a career in accounting would require you to add extra qualifications like ICAN. Some additional skills include using advanced accounting and other computer software, data analysis, and strong business acumen. Not to worry, your knowledge and mathematics skills already give you the advantage to handle whatever might come your way in accounting certifications.
4. Actuarial Science
Financial risk analysis is very important for businesses, and this is where an actuary comes in. Actuaries combine mathematics and statistics skills to determine the likelihood and risk of potential occurrences, thus helping to solve problems and strategise ahead. Your role as an actuary will involve evaluating clients’ financial risks, predicting their impact and advising them accordingly.
Such advisory skills will help your clients make the right decisions, such as business investments, expansions, and other endeavours to protect and meet their business goals. So if you have accompanying interests in finance, economics and business management, you might want to give an actuarial career a shot.
Some industries where you can work as an actuary include pension and insurance companies, banks, investment firms and even healthcare facilities. As with other career pathways, you must be able to break down and effectively communicate complex concepts to people in simpler terms.
5. Academia and Research
To be honest, academia is where many expect mathematics graduates to end up. The assumption rests on the idea that there is much more to learn and apply in mathematics. So, some graduates will decide to dedicate their lives to learning more math.
Suppose you like the idea of passing on knowledge, creating and validating theories, making discoveries, and innovating on various applications. In that case, you may want to consider pursuing an academic career. Within this academia and research career alone, you have multiple options. As a professional in academia, you may also get involved with research in other STEM fields, as they apply mathematics in their work.
Teaching sounds pretty similar to academia and research because they involve teaching too. However, in this instance, I am referring to teaching mathematics to primary and secondary school students – not in the tertiary education system.
Good numerical skills are essential in life, which is why these skills are taught globally from an early age. Your role as a math teacher will help your students understand mathematical concepts. Hopefully, you won’t be a mean one, as some of us still have PTSD from our maths teachers growing up.
Plus, this could be your way to build your track record toward a future career in academia and research if you develop an interest in this area much later.
Did you know that while it is typical to become an engineer by going for an engineering degree, you can also get into the field with your knowledge of mathematics? Remember that mathematics students receive training to become real-world problem solvers; hence they can carry their skills into many engineering aspects.
Many engineering innovations stem from the direct collaboration of mathematicians and the application of mathematical concepts. Following this path will help you take up some extra learnings and skills in engineering to improve your performance and chances in the field.
There are many things you can do with a mathematics degree, some of which are not so common. But you can still explore and pursue it abroad. As the problem-solver you are, you may also pioneer new opportunities, following the trail of other great mathematical minds that the country has produced.
Some of the other possible job options (some of which might overlap) that directly or indirectly involve the application of maths include:
- Financial Manager
- Business Analyst
- Quantity Surveyor
- Intelligence Analyst
- Financial trader
- Financial Analyst
- Software Tester
- Statistical Researcher
- Software Engineer
- Investment Analyst
- Insurance Underwriter
- Management Consultant
- Operational Researcher
- Information Technology Specialist
- Data Analyst
- Cryptography and cybersecurity expert
- Data Scientist
Further Studies with a Math Degree
As you may have inferred, it would be easier to get into some of the career possibilities mentioned above when you have extra relevant qualifications that align with them. Meanwhile, this is not to say that it is impossible to use your degree alone. Mathematics is a versatile subject that you can apply in many fields.
Therefore, it is likely that during or after studying for your undergraduate math degree, you developed keen interests in a particular area and wish to specialise in that area. One good way to do this is by going for further studies in that subject area.
Not only will furthering your education give you more specialised knowledge and skills in that field, but it will also give you the privilege of earning an advanced degree. An advanced degree can improve your chances of securing lucrative employment and advancing your career much faster.
Advanced degree options include graduate certifications like a master’s or direct PhD programs (yes, a direct PhD after your Bachelor’s degree is possible). Here are some degree areas to consider:
- Computational Mathematics
- Algebra and Number Theory
- Applied Mathematics
- Functional Analysis
Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. The same is true for your academic performance. So, whether you are still in an undergraduate programme or you are planning to enrol in a graduate programme, monitoring your performance is important.
Watch this video to learn how to calculate and track your academic performance:
How To Build a Successful Career with a Math Degree
Of course, knowing what to do with a math degree is not the same as leveraging these options. For one, there are many options to choose from and loading yourself with so much information without taking steps can lead to information paralysis.
That said, here are some tips that can help you build a successful career with your Math degree:
Study hard, study well
Mathematics involves a lot of mind work and rigour. While you might naturally have an affinity for numbers, it doesn’t replace the need to study hard to get good grades that give you better chances.
Brush Up on Your Skills
Your paper (certificate) is not enough. The real question is, can you do the job if the offer comes to you? So, you must keep building and improving your skills as a mathematician. Some essential hard and soft skills to consider include:
- Analytical and critical thinking
- Data Management
- Numerical and Statistical Methods
- Information Technology
- Abstract thinking
- Attention to detail, accuracy, precision an
- Strong Presentation and Communication Skills
Develop a Strong CV
So you have built the necessary knowledge, skills and experience, but it doesn’t end there. You also need to present them well in your Cv. Use resources and templates like Novo Resume, ZetyCV, And Worded as guides.
Mind you, the contents of your CV are as important as the presentation, so you need to build relevant things that can boost your profile. Some relevant items to include in your CV are certifications and courses, internships and jobs, and valuable extracurricular activities like volunteering and leadership.
In this article, I explained the relevance of mathematics in today’s world. I also highlighted the various avenues you can explore with a Math degree.
Now that you have a good idea of what you can do with your mathematics degree start taking action on them. Soar and thrive, our dear Prof!