What Math Careers Are Right for Me?

What Math Careers Are Right for Me? was originally published on Forage.

So, you’re a math whiz! Math is a great hard skill with valuable career applications, even though those career applications might not always be obvious. That’s why we’ve come up with a “What math careers are right for me?” quiz to help you figure out what math careers are out there and which one is specifically right for you.

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Types of Math Careers

Math careers are roles that require various math skills for everyday work. However, there are so many different math skills out there! These careers can be broken up into types of math skills and how employees apply those skills. 

Math Careers in Technology

Math is essential to the foundation of technology, from developing effective algorithms to making cutting-edge hardware. For example, software engineers use linear algebra and calculus to help create software functionality, while network engineers use probability and statistics to analyze and optimize data flow.

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Math Careers in Business

Math careers in business focus on using math to help companies make better decisions — ones that ensure they’re growing and profiting. Business analysts use statistics and calculus to analyze market trends and forecast how a company will perform in the future. Operations research specialists use complex mathematical models to help optimize parts of a business, whether that’s a production process, resource allocation, or supply chain.

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Math Careers in Finance

Finance is all about numbers, which means there are many opportunities for people with math skills to succeed in these career paths. Finance professionals use math to manage financial risk and maximize financial return. For example, a risk manager uses probability theory to assess financial risk and develop mitigation strategies. An accountant uses mathematical modeling skills and other number-crunching equations to ensure financial statements are in order.


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Math Careers in Data

Math careers in data apply mathematical skills to uncover insights that can help companies make the right decisions. Data analysts use statistics and linear algebra to identify trends and patterns and understand what strategies and tactics were (and weren’t) effective. Data scientists are future-thinking, using programming and mathematical modeling skills to predict performance and help businesses solve problems.

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What Math Careers Are Right for Me? Quiz

So, what math careers are right for you? Take this quiz to find out. It’s completely free — you’ll just need to sign up to get your results!

1. Which of the following would you be most excited about?

a. cracking a code that unlocks a hidden message in a video game

b. cataloging your friends’ favorite meals and surprising them with their favorite dish on their birthdays

c. discovering a rare coin collection in a secret part of your dorm

d. creating a movie recommendation system that perfectly predicts your friends’ next favorite film

2. Pick your dream office environment.

a. a modern, sleek office with a constant buzz of activity

b. a quiet, traditional space with organized meeting rooms

c. a flexible space with comfortable seating and movable whiteboards

d. a colorful, collaborative space with the latest technology

3. What’s one word your friends would use to describe you?

a. sharp

b. perceptive

c. innovative

d. ambitious

4. What’s one word your friends would never use to describe you?

a. superficial

b. disorganized

c. impulsive

d. naive

5. When faced with a problem, your first instinct is to…

a. break it down into logical steps

b. ask questions to gather as much information as possible

c. impulsive

d. look for patterns and trends that might offer clues

6. Pick a task that sounds the most interesting to you.

a. designing a program that creates unique animations

b. analyzing social media data to understand audience perception

c. researching historical trends to predict future outcomes

d. developing a fun marketing campaign to engage specific audiences

7. What role do you usually play in your friend group?

a. the planner, actually organizing those activities, trips, and other plans

b. the decider, choosing what the group will do when there’s disagreement

c. the observer, always remembering whose birthday it is and details about your friends’ lives

d. the brainstormer, always coming up with fun activities for the group

8. You find fulfillment in…

a. solving a difficult problem

b. building something new

c. using your expertise to help others

d. being the go-to person for advice

9. When you were a kid, you wanted to grow up to be…

a. the President

b. teacher

c. a robot builder

d. detective

10. Pick a hobby you’d like to try (if you haven’t already!).

a. origami

b. knitting

c. logic puzzles

d. video games

11. You win a free vacation. Where are you visiting?

a. a remote mountain range

b. a historic town

c. a high-tech museum

d. a bustling city


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How to Land a Math Career

Now that you know what math careers are right for you, how do you land one?

Develop the Right Hard Skills

Hard skills are arguably one of the most essential parts of math careers, but you don’t need the same hard skills for every math career. For example, in finance math careers, you may need specific accounting skills like analyzing cash flow statements or balance sheets. You might need data visualization and statistical programming skills if you go into data math careers.

How do you know which math skills to build? 

  • Look at job descriptions: Job descriptions are some of the best ways to understand what companies are looking for from different entry-level math roles. Looking at the required skills section can give you an idea of what companies expect you to know.
  • Ask professors: If you’re studying math or a math-related major at school, your professors may be able to provide insights on what skills are valuable. 
  • Get comfortable with core skills: Regardless of what math career you pursue, knowing foundational math skills like algebra, statistics, and data analysis can apply to tons of different roles. 

But Don’t Forget Your Soft Skills

Math careers aren’t just about your hard skills — developing your soft skills can make you stand out in applications. 

“To land a career as a business analyst, soft skills will determine how far you excel in the role,” says Eno Eka, business analyst and CEO at Eny Consulting, Inc. “Those include communication/interpersonal skills, problem-solving, and analytical thinking given the role’s involvement with stakeholder management and relations.”

Other critical soft skills for math careers include:

Megan Chaffey, an actuarial analyst at Wakely Consulting Group, also mentions the importance of hard work and dedication in pursuing a math career, especially as these careers take many years to pursue. 

“Actuaries earn credentials through exams, which take patience and perseverance,” she says. “With that said, the actuarial profession is consistently ranked as one of the best careers for job demand, self-directed growth, and salary potential. Typically, the ASA [Associate of the Society of Actuaries] designation takes about 4-6 years, and the FSA [Fellow of the Society of Actuaries] designation is about an additional 2-3 years (6-9 years total). It is possible to go faster or slower, but it all depends on the individual.”

Start Building Experience

You don’t need to wait for a full-time job to start building your math career. 

“Specific to the actuarial profession and many careers that use math skills, internships and mentorship are very important,” Chaffey says. “Securing an internship is a great way to show you’re capable in the field and is beneficial to have on your resume when pursuing a full-time position. Many companies will also offer full-time positions at the end of the internships. Expanding your network through free memberships like the Society of Actuaries (SOA) is another step you could take to meet others and connect with a mentor in the actuarial community. This is a great way to find internships or job opportunities that you may not have known about otherwise.”

If you’re not ready to get started by working with other people, independent projects are a great way to build experience and get your foot in the door.

“Don’t be nervous to start building a portfolio now — a practical look at your mathematical abilities applied to real-world problems is a great place to start,” Eka says. “To bolster your work, engage in practical projects in school and personally, including financial modeling, statistical analysis (sports stats can be a fun place to start), and anything with an algorithm (trading is one example).”

Math Careers: The Bottom Line

If you love math, there are so many different career opportunities you can pursue, not only based on the specific math skills you’re interested in but also on how you want to apply them.

“I think it is invaluable to look at math differently than it is taught in school,” says Cindy Lawrence, executive director at the National Museum of Mathematics. “Math is creative and encourages new ways to think out of the box, no matter what career you choose. I advise people to not give up when they take math in school. There are more and more jobs opening up in math and STEM fields as technology extends to nearly every aspect of society. Anyone can achieve their dream role in a math-related area.”

Want to improve your math skills and learn how to apply them in the professional world? Explore free Forage job simulations.

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The post What Math Careers Are Right for Me? appeared first on Forage.