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Thinking of a Career in the Mathematical Sciences?

Careers in STEM: Why They're Important

New application areas are constantly being discovered while established techniques are being applied in new ways and in emerging fields. Consequently, a wide variety of career opportunities are open to people with mathematical talent and training.

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Mathematical careers in business, industry, and government continue to evolve and diversify. As new application areas are discovered and established techniques are applied in new ways, a wide variety of career opportunities have become available to people with talent and training in the mathematical sciences.

Careers Brochure

Applied mathematics and computational and data science impact nearly every facet of our lives.

Careers in these areas rarely carry the title of “mathematician” and are often coupled with a specialty or area of research interest. In this guide, you will find answers to questions about careers in applied mathematics and computational and data science, and profiles of professionals working in a variety of environments for which a strong background in mathematics is necessary for success.

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Where Can You Make an Impact?

Where Mathematicians and Computational Scientists Work

Mathematics plays a major role in the bottom line of industrial organizations and helps companies perform better in today’s data-driven marketplace. Many different types of organizations hire mathematicians, computational scientists, and data scientists. To find out where you can make an impact, search the websites of organizations and corporations that interest you to learn more about their location(s), mission statement and objectives, history, and job postings. Gain experience through internships and work-study opportunities to help you determine your personal workplace preferences when it comes to things like non-profit or for-profit, large or small, working independently or on a team, and how much customer contact you prefer to have.

What Kinds of Problems Might You Work on?

Solving Problems as a Mathematician or Computational Scientist

While careers in the mathematical sciences may differ widely by discipline and job title, one thing remains constant among them—problem solving. Below are some potential problems that someone with mathematical training might encounter. Which of them do you find most intriguing, and why?

  • How can airlines use smarter scheduling to increase profits and reduce the costs of engine maintenance?
  • How can one design a detailed plan for a clinical trial?
  • Is ethanol a viable solution for the world’s dependence on fossil fuels? Can biofuel production be optimized to combat negative implications on the world’s economy and environment?
  • How can we use major advances in computing power to incorporate knowledge about interactions between the oceans, the atmosphere, and living ecosystems into models used to predict long-term change?
  • How can automotive companies test performance, safety, and ergonomics, while at the same time lowering the cost of construction and testing prototypes?
  • A pharmaceutical company wants to search a very large database of proteins to find one that is similar in shape or activity to one they have discovered. What is the most efficient way to do so?
  • How might disease spread in populated areas in the event of a bioterrorism incident, and how could it be contained?
  • How do you design a robotic hand to grip a coin and drop it in a slot?
  • How can mathematical models of opinion dynamics be used to figure out how a person’s social network impacts who they will vote for in the next election?
  • How can you mathematically model the spread of a forest fire depending on weather, ground cover, and type of trees?
  • How can you allocate an investment among various financial instruments to meet a risk/reward trade-off?
  • Can mathematical models be coupled with efficient computational implementations to obtain practical, low-cost simulations to guide computer chip design and manufacture?
  • How can genome sequencing analysis help in making clinical decisions based on a personalized medicine approach?
  • How can mathematics improve rating prediction performance of e-commerce systems and help enhance consumers’ experience based on their past purchases, behavior, and interests?

What’s Out There for Someone with Your Talents, Interests, and Background?

Growing Fields for Mathematicians and Computational Scientists

Growing disciplines to consider and look into more closely:
Climatology and Climate Change Impacts
Computer Animation and Digital Imaging
Data Mining and Differential Privacy
Data Science
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Materials Science
Personalized Medicine
Quantum Information Science
STEM Ethics
Systems Biology

Other areas in which mathematicians work:
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
Clean Energy
Climate Modeling
Finance and Economics
Health Care and Social Assistance
Information Technology
Legal Services
Management of Companies and Enterprises
Retail Trade
Supply Chain
Transportation and Warehousing

How Do You Get Started?

Getting Started as a Mathematician or Computational Scientist

Choose a major in the mathematical sciences

Consider degree programs in the mathematical sciences and academic disciplines that require mathematical and computational skills, such as engineering, life science fields, public health sciences, computer and information sciences, statistical sciences, financial mathematics, earth sciences, and physical sciences. Pairing math with a minor in any of these degrees can be a powerful combination.

Use your university’s resources

Many universities offer robust career centers. Services such as career assessments can help you narrow your search to suit your personality and interests. Other resources may include career coaches, résumé help, interview preparation, career development webinars, job boards, and career fairs.

Explore internships, summer jobs, industrial research opportunities, and work-study

What better way to determine the range of opportunities and explore possible areas of interest than to be in the workplace? Check with your university’s career center and online job portals, as well as the career and job resources on the SIAM website at www.siam.org/careers. You may also be able to find programs where you can work with a faculty member and other students on a research problem that originates from a business in order to get experience and learn approaches needed to solve such problems.
The National Science Foundation and other agencies offer programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN), and Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internships (MSGI) that support active research participation by undergraduate and graduate students in many research areas.

The National Science Foundation and other groups offer programs such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) that support active research participation by undergraduate students in many research areas. A directory of active NSF REU sites and contact information can be found here.

Build a network of contacts

Join a professional organization like SIAM and get involved with student chapters, activity groups, and geographic sections. Attend conferences and events, and participate in webinars, discussion groups, and other programs and resources to connect with individuals in your field. Volunteer for committees or community service opportunities.

Practice communication

Learn to communicate ideas in a compelling, concise way to someone unfamiliar with the topic.

Be open to all sorts of jobs

Be open to job postings with titles that may not align specifically with your experience or career preparation. If you have training in the mathematical sciences and skills that apply, you can often learn the rest on the job. Do you need to have every skill listed on a job description? No, you should meet at least a few of the criteria well and have ways to demonstrate your depth of skill in those areas. Think of ways to use the skills you have to approach new problems.

Are You Ready?

Part of the preparation for your future is obtaining a solid foundation in mathematical and computational knowledge in areas like differential equations, probability, combinatorics, and linear algebra, as well as the art of abstraction and advanced computing and programming skills. Preparation for a career in the mathematical sciences also involves being able to apply these skills to real-life problems and achieve practical results. Mathematical and computational skills are a huge career asset that can set you apart and open doors.

Possible Job Titles for People with Applied Math and Computational and Data Science Backgrounds and Education

Mathematician and Computational Scientist Job Titles

  • Actuary
  • Analyst
  • Analytics Consultant
  • Analytics Manager
  • Applied Mathematics Researcher
  • Biostatistician
  • Business Intelligence Developer
  • Business Analyst
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Cryptographer
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Operations Associate
  • Data Processing Specialist
  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Forecast Analyst
  • Functional Analyst
  • Game Designer/Slot Game Designer/Game Mathematician
  • Geolocation Engineer
  • Global Pricing Analyst
  • Guidance and Navigation Engineer
  • Informatics Scientist
  • Information Analyst
  • Investment Analytics Quant
  • Math Curriculum Coach/Consultant/Director
  • Modeling Engineer
  • Operations Researcher
  • Operations Support Specialist
  • Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacodynamic Modeler
  • Principal Scientist
  • Product Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Programmer
  • Quality Systems and Compliance Manager
  • Quantitative Analyst
  • Quantitative Developer
  • Quantitative Pharmacologist
  • Quantitative Scientist
  • Quantitative Software Engineer
  • Research and Development Engineer
  • Research Analyst
  • Research Scientist
  • Researcher
  • Risk Analyst
  • Risk Strategist
  • Simulation Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Architect
  • Statistician
  • Strategist
  • Supply Chain Analyst
  • Systems Engineer
  • Technical Staff

Note: “career stage” in this publication is defined as:
Early (1–10 years post bachelor’s)
Mid (11–25 years post bachelor’s)
Late (26+ years post bachelor’s)



Want to learn more about careers in the mathematical sciences and related fields? Read the profiles of professional mathematicians and computational scientists to learn what type of jobs are in your future, get advice from them, and more.

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Get hands-on experience in your field of study with an internship. SIAM offers a comprehensive list of notable companies from industry, institutions, and government looking for young professionals wanting to expand their skills.

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SIAM provides guides, tips, books, and articles all with helpful advice for graduates and students going into their career fields. Read more to find other societies within the applied mathematics and computational science disciplines, organizations that hire applied mathematicians, and more.

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