dcsimg
   Page Contents

10 High-Paying Careers for Math Lovers

Aug 12, 2016 | By Megan Horner

It's official: Math geekdom pays off. The modern math wiz's professional opportunities, as well as their high earnings potential, prove it.

The 10 careers highlighted below can put your love of numbers to excellent use. Even better, these 10 careers can also offer lucrative salaries. All jobs featured in this list have a median annual salary above $75,000 as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2015. On the other hand, according to the BLS, the median salary for all workers across all industries in the U.S. was $36,200 in 2015. In other words, these math-oriented careers have the potential to pay over double the national average wage.

Read on to learn more about these jobs and the education typically required to land them. Surprisingly, there are a range of potential majors that can help graduates get started in these careers, not just the standard math major. Students interested in business, technology and engineering fields can still put their passion for math to good use.

Note that the data for the median salaries and highest-paying states for each job comes from 2015 BLS data. The job growth represents the change of employment between 2014 and 2024 and is also sourced from the BLS.

1. Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum Engineer

  • Median Salary: $129,990
  • Highest-Paying States: Texas, Colorado, Alaska
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: 10%

The field of engineering is well known for the use of advanced math skills and complicated equations to get a job done. For this job, the BLS recommends students take algebra, trigonometry and calculus to prepare to earn a degree in engineering. Some petroleum engineers earn a degree in petroleum engineering, while others earn other engineering degrees, such as chemical or mechanical engineering. Once graduated, petroleum engineers rely on advanced equations to develop the best method to extract oil and gas from the earth.

Note that there are a range of high-paying engineering careers that easily also belong on this list. For example, aerospace engineers, industrial engineers, materials engineers and mechanical engineers all made a median annual salary above $80K in 2015, according to the BLS. What’s exciting about petroleum engineering is its projected faster-than-average growth rate. While many engineering fields have slow or even declining growth rates, petroleum engineering is a growing industry.

2. Mathematician

Mathematician

  • Median Salary: $111,110
  • Highest-Paying States: New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia
  • Entry-Level Education: Master's degree
  • Job Growth: 21%

Clearly, mathematicians use a lot of math. Specifically, they use theoretical or applied math to solve variety of problems. While theoretical mathematicians expand and develop math theories and concepts, applied mathematicians tend to work with professionals from other fields, such as business or engineering, to research and analyze data that can be applied to real-world situations.

While some mathematicians can find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, many professionals in the field may find that employers prefer those with a master’s degree. Programs typically contain coursework in algebra, calculus and differential equations.

3. Computer and Information Scientist

Computer and Information Scientist

  • Median Salary: $110,620
  • Highest-Paying States: Minnesota, Virginia, District of Columbia
  • Entry-Level Education: Doctoral degree
  • Job Growth: 11%

Computer and information scientists use their extensive theoretical expertise to create new computer technologies or to find new ways to use existing ones. These professionals write complex algorithms to design and test software, and their work often leads to technological advancements to both computer software and hardware.

As this is a very technical job, advanced math skills can be helpful. Most computer scientists hold a Ph.D. in a field such as computer science or computer engineering.

4. Economist

Economist

  • Median Salary: $99,180
  • Highest-Paying States: Indiana, District of Columbia, Virginia
  • Entry-Level Education: Master's degree
  • Job Growth: 6%

In order to make economic forecasts and predict market trends, economists research, collect surveys and examine data. They use statistics and mathematic models to analyze the data they’ve collected. Then economists create complex reports to share their findings with various businesses or the government.

A master’s degree in economics is the typical entry-level degree for this profession. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a Ph.D., while other employers may hire those with just a bachelor’s degree.

5. Actuary

Actuary

  • Median Salary: $97,070
  • Highest-Paying States: Colorado, Kansas, New York
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: 18%

As professional risk assessors, actuaries use math to analyze the probability and likely cost associated with a certain event, such as death, disability or the loss of property. With the help of advanced statistics and computer software, actuaries provide insurance companies the information they need to create policies and premiums.

Actuaries typically earn a degree in mathematics or a related field such as statistics or actuarial science. Note that actuaries are required to take a set of exams to earn certification.

6. Computer Systems Analyst

Computer Systems Analyst

  • Median Salary: $85,800
  • Highest-Paying States: District of Columbia, California, Virginia
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: 21%

Computer systems analysts put their analytical skills to good use designing, developing and configuring a company's computer systems. Because of their work, a company can run smoothly and efficiently. Analysts typically hold at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science or even sometimes applied mathematics.

These professionals analyze a company’s computer system using data modeling and mathematical model building, which is why an understanding of math is useful. In fact, computer systems analysts may even use accounting principles to create a budget that supports their plan to improve a company’s computer system.

7. Financial Analyst

Financial Analyst

  • Median Salary: $80,310
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Oregon, California
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: 12%

The field of finance revolves around numbers. Fortunately, financial analysts advise those who are less number savvy by recommending investments in particular stocks and bonds. In order to do this successfully, financial analysts evaluate and understand current economic trends. Financial analysts need strong math skills to estimate the value of investments and securities.

Graduates can typically land this job with a bachelor’s degree, but some more advanced positions may require a master’s degree. Students interested in this field can choose from several related majors, including finance, mathematics, accounting, statistics and economics. Many financial analyst jobs require a license.

8. Statistician

Statistician

  • Median Salary: $80,110
  • Highest-Paying States: New Jersey, District of Columbia, Connecticut
  • Entry-Level Education: Master's degree
  • Job Growth: 34%

As members of a career field that is growing faster than average, statisticians use math to collect, analyze and present numerical information. In turn, they can use their findings to help solve the problems that plague their respective fields. Statisticians can work in a variety of industries, from economics to sports.

Professionals in this field typically earn a degree in statistics, mathematics or another math-related subject.

9. Computer Programmer

Computer Programmer

  • Median Salary: $79,530
  • Highest-Paying States: Washington, New Mexico, Alaska
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: -8%

If numbers represent a language, computers speak it fluently. Computer programmers create, modify and test the code that allows computers to operate, a process requiring a solid understanding of math.

Computer programmers generally have a degree in computer science or another computer-related specialty. In addition to their degree, many programmers specialize in a particular programming language.

10. Operations Research Analyst

Operations Research Analyst

  • Median Salary: $78,630
  • Highest-Paying States: District of Columbia, Virginia, New York
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Growth: 30%

An operations research analyst analyzes a company’s problems and finds solutions. They can be involved in many different aspects of a company, such as helping to determine the prices of products, the supply chain route and production schedules. In order to determine their suggested solutions, analysts use mathematical software programs to model and simulate different outcomes.

Those who earn an operations research degree complete extensive coursework in math, including algebra, statistics and calculus. Because many schools don’t offer an operations research degree program, operations research analysts sometimes hold degrees in other math-heavy majors, such as engineering, computer science or mathematics.


Sources:

  1. Actuaries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152011.htm
  2. Actuaries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm
  3. Computer and Information Research Scientists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
  4. Computer and Information Research Scientists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2012/may/oes151111.htm
  5. Computer Programmers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm
  6. Computer Programmers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
  7. Computer Systems Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
  8. Computer Systems Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151121.htm
  9. Economists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193011.htm
  10. Economists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm
  11. Financial Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/oes132051.htm
  12. Financial Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
  13. Mathematicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152041.htm
  14. Mathematicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians.htm
  15. Operations Research Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm
  16. Operations Research Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152031.htm
  17. Petroleum Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172171.htm
  18. Petroleum Engineers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/petroleum-engineers.htm
  19. Statisticians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152041.htm
  20. Statisticians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm