Global Undergraduate Applications • Undergraduate

Profitable Careers That Will Make You Want to Major in Maths

POSTED ON 05/24/2024 BY The Red Pen

Diverse career paths for maths majors

When we think of maths majors, our minds often conjure images of individuals engrossed in complex equations, deciphering intricate theorems, or teaching the next generation. According to Data USA, in 2021, math majors grew by 3.87 per cent, with at least 754,713 people in the workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an average median annual income of around $78,000. These figures can rise depending on the field. This blog unravels the diverse career paths for maths majors. 

What are the traditional career paths for a maths major

While the allure of academic pursuits, finance, and data analysis has long been associated with math majors, these traditional career paths have also proven to be the most common for math graduates.

1) Academia 

Many maths majors aspire to become professors or researchers, engaging in both theoretical and practical aspects of mathematics to contribute to its growing knowledge. While you need a master’s or doctorate degree to be a professor, a bachelor’s degree holder can enter academia as a school teacher, researcher or assistant professor. The salary range for a college-level maths professor typically falls between $85,409 and $169,124, while the salary range for a school-level math teacher in the US falls between $47,791 and $73,088. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the years spent in the profession. 

2) Finance and banking

Financial fields, such as investment banking, risk management, or actuarial roles, are popular paths for maths majors looking to analyse financial data, develop models, and make informed decisions in the fast-paced world of finance. The benefits include substantial compensation and the opportunity to play a pivotal role in shaping economic landscapes. The average salary for a career in finance is $110,175 per year in the US, while the average pay for a banker is $66,296 per year, with an average salary of $51,916 per year. On the other hand, investment bankers earn substantially more, with an average salary of $144,805 per year.

3) Data analysis

In the digital age, the rise of big data has catapulted data analysis into the spotlight, offering maths majors a fertile ground for career growth. From extracting meaningful insights to predicting trends, data analysts use their mathematical skills to make sense of vast datasets. The advantages include a high demand for skilled professionals, diverse industry applications, and innovation potential. The average data analyst salary in the US is $84,297, but the salary range typically falls between $75,449 and $94,306. 

What are the unconventional career paths for a maths major 

While we have covered common pathways for maths majors, we would be remiss if we did not mention atypical careers that are similarly lucrative for people who graduate with a maths degree. Here are some options for those who want to go off the beaten path. 

1) Actuarial science

Actuaries are professionals skilled in the art of risk management. Their primary responsibility is to analyse the financial consequences of risk and uncertainty. Using a potent blend of mathematics, statistics, and economic theory, actuaries assess the likelihood of future events, design creative solutions to mitigate risks, and help organisations make informed decisions. From determining insurance premiums to devising pension plans, actuaries safeguard financial stability. The demand for actuaries extends beyond the insurance industry. Consulting, government agencies, and tech companies are also hired for this profile. Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 23 per cent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 2,300 openings for actuaries are projected each year, on average, over the decade. The average median wage is $113,990 per year, but actuaries stand to make more as they continue to take examinations and certifications to build their skills through their careers. 

2) Cybersecurity 

Cybersecurity professionals, often referred to as ethical hackers or information security analysts, play a pivotal role in fortifying organisations against cyber threats. Their primary responsibilities include designing and implementing security measures to protect computer systems, networks, and data from unauthorised access, attacks, and breaches. Maths majors are well-equipped for the analytical challenges in cybersecurity, as they bring strong problem-solving skills and a mathematical mindset to decipher and mitigate complex security issues. Cybersecurity is a growing industry that is still in need of skilled professionals. The global cyber security market was estimated at USD 222.66 billion in 2023 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3% from 2023 to 2030. The job outlook for cybersecurity professionals is exceptionally promising, with the mean annual wage being $119,860, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

3) Artificial intelligence

In the era of rapid technological advancement, one field stands out as a beacon of innovation and transformation—Artificial Intelligence (AI). Maths majors passionate about algorithms and computational thinking find unparalleled opportunities in AI careers, where mathematics intersects with computer science and cutting-edge technology. Professionals in AI, often known as data scientists, machine learning engineers, or information research scientists, harness the power of algorithms and data to create intelligent systems. Their responsibilities range from developing algorithms that enable machines to learn from data to designing models that can make predictions, recognise patterns, and solve complex problems. According to the Economic Times, AI and machine learning jobs have jumped by almost 75 per cent over the past four years and are poised to keep growing. Pursuing a machine learning job is a solid choice for a high-paying career that will be in demand for decades. The median annual wage for information research scientists was $136,620 in May 2022, while data scientists could expect $115,240 yearly.

4) Sports analytics

Sports analytics uses mathematical models and statistical analysis to interpret data and gain insights into player performance, team dynamics, and game strategies. Maths majors contribute their analytical skills to deciphering complex datasets, developing predictive models, and uncovering patterns that can inform decisions. The rise of sports analytics has created a demand for skilled professionals within professional sports teams and leagues. Maths majors with a passion for sports are uniquely positioned to contribute to the success of teams and athletes. Opportunities abound in roles such as data analysts, statisticians, and sports scientists. The average salary of applied sports scientists in the US is $175,000. Schools like the Symbiosis School of Sports Science have started programmes to meet this demand. 

5) Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology:

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology have revolutionised the financial landscape, creating new opportunities for maths majors to apply their analytical skills. These technologies involve decentralised digital currencies and distributed ledger systems, and mathematical models play a crucial role in their development and implementation. Blockchain analysts use data to identify trends, anomalies, and potential security threats by using statistical methods to enhance the efficiency and security of blockchain networks. Similarly, cryptocurrency analysts also develop mathematical models to understand and predict market trends in the cryptocurrency space. According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for a Blockchain Analyst is $95,013 annually in the US, with an average salary of $88,011 annually.  Most crypto analysts’ salaries currently range between $57,500 and $90,000, with top earners making $124,000 annually across the United States. 

6) Gaming 

Gaming has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. Maths majors play a crucial role in shaping the virtual worlds, optimising game mechanics, and enhancing player experiences by applying mathematical principles. Maths majors typically become gaming analysts or algorithm designers. They use statistical analysis to interpret player behaviour, engagement metrics, and in-game economies. Algorithm designers are responsible for designing experiments to optimise game features and enhance player satisfaction. They develop algorithms for the procedural generation of game content, such as landscapes, levels, and missions. They also apply mathematical models to create realistic simulations and enhance gameplay dynamics. The average annual salary for a gaming analyst in the US is $53,975. The average salary for a game designer is $109,950.

7) Healthcare analytics

Healthcare analytics harnesses the power of data and mathematical models to extract valuable insights, improve patient outcomes, and enhance the efficiency of healthcare systems. Maths majors passionate about healthcare can contribute their analytical skills to make a meaningful impact in this rapidly evolving field. They can analyse large healthcare datasets to identify patterns, trends, and correlations and use statistical methods to uncover insights that inform medical decisions, resource allocation, and patient care strategies. Some maths majors can go on to forecast disease outbreaks, patient readmissions, and healthcare resource needs, using mathematical algorithms to enhance the accuracy of diagnostic tools and treatment plans. The average salary for a healthcare analyst in the US is $75,091, but the salary range typically falls between $66,630 and $88,743.

8) Environmental modelling

Environmental modelling is a critical field that employs mathematical models and simulations to understand, predict, and address complex environmental issues. Maths majors typically see roles in climate or ecological modelling, while others become natural resource analysts. Environmental modellers often apply mathematical techniques to model ecosystems, biodiversity, and the interactions between species. They also help conservation efforts by assessing the impact of human activities on natural habitats, evaluating the sustainability of resource use and proposing strategies for responsible sustainability practices. Maths majors passionate about the environment can be pivotal in creating models contributing to sustainable resource management, climate change mitigation, and ecological conservation. The average salary for an environmental modeller is $71,235 per year in the US. The estimated total pay for a Natural Resources Analyst is $79,731 annually in the United States area, with an average salary of $73,602 annually. 

9) Quantum computing 

Quantum computing is a cutting-edge field that leverages the principles of quantum mechanics to perform complex calculations at unimaginable speeds. Maths majors with a strong foundation in abstract mathematics and quantum mechanics can contribute to developing quantum algorithms and applications. Quantum developers leverage the unique properties of quantum systems to solve problems more efficiently than classical algorithms. Quantum developers are often used interchangeably with quantum software engineers or developers. However, quantum developers are usually placed more on the technical side of an implementation. They develop quantum software based on designs that have already been created. They often collaborate with physicists and computer scientists to bridge the gap between theoretical algorithms and practical quantum computing implementations. Quantum computing software engineers can expect to start in a salary range between $105,000 to $125,000.

The versatility of a maths major, emphasising critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, has transcended traditional boundaries. As we conclude this exploration, it’s evident that the journey for maths majors is not confined to classrooms and conventional roles. Read our blogs on the Unique Advantages of STEM-designated majors in the US and What Are My Career Options After an Undergraduate STEM Degree. But if you want to pursue a maths major and need help with your university applications, please get in touch. Our team will support you at every step.