


Preparation
A
Ph.D. degree in mathematics usually is the minimum educational
requirement for prospective mathematicians, except in the Federal
Government. In the Federal Government, entrylevel job candidates
usually must have a 4year degree with a major in mathematics or a
4year degree with the equivalent of a mathematics major  24 semester
hours of mathematics courses.
Bachelor's
Degree Courses
A bachelor's degree in
mathematics is offered by most colleges and universities.
Mathematics courses
usually required for this degree include calculus, differential
equations, and linear and abstract algebra. Additional courses might
include probability theory and statistics, mathematical analysis,
numerical analysis, topology, discrete mathematics, and mathematical
logic. Many colleges and universities urge or require students majoring
in mathematics to take courses in a field that is closely related to
mathematics, such as computer science, engineering, life science,
physical science, or economics. A double major in mathematics and
another related discipline is particularly desirable to many employers.
High school students who are prospective college mathematics majors
should take as many mathematics courses as possible while in high
school.
University
Selection
There are more than 300 graduate programs focused in mathematics, offering both
master's and doctoral degrees, in pure or applied mathematics around the
country. In graduate school, students conduct research and take advanced
courses, usually specializing in a subfield of mathematics.
Professional
Science Master's
Professional Science Master's are also
available for many areas in mathematics. A
Professional Science Master's (PSM) is an reasonably new (about a decade
old) graduate degree
designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or
mathematics, while simultaneously developing workplace skills highly
valued by employers. PSM programs consist of two years of academic
training in an emerging or interdisciplinary area, along with a
professional component that may include internships and "crosstraining"
in workplace skills, such as business, communications, and regulatory
affairs. A list of current programs is available
here.
Ph.D.
Training
In private industry,
candidates for mathematician jobs typically need a Ph.D., although there
may be opportunities for those with a master's degree. Most of the
positions designated for mathematicians are in research and development
laboratories, as part of technical teams. In such settings,
mathematicians engage either in basic research on pure mathematical
principles or in applied research on developing or improving specific
products or processes. The majority of those with a bachelor's or
master's degree in mathematics who work in private industry do so not as
mathematicians but in related fields such as computer science, where
they have titles such as computer programmer, systems analyst, or
systems engineer.
Specialized
Training
For jobs in applied
mathematics, training in the field in which the mathematics will be used
is very important. Mathematics is used extensively in physics, actuarial
science, statistics, engineering, and operations research. Computer
science, business and industrial management, economics, finance,
chemistry, geology, life sciences, and behavioral sciences are likewise
dependent on applied mathematics. Mathematicians also should have
substantial knowledge of computer programming, because most complex
mathematical computation and much mathematical modeling are done on a
computer.
Core
Skills
Mathematicians need
good reasoning ability and persistence to identify, analyze, and apply
basic principles to technical problems. Communication skills also
are important, as mathematicians must be able to interact and discuss
proposed solutions with people who may not have extensive knowledge of
mathematics.
Coops
and Internships
Internships, coops, and research can be valuable because they allow you
to see what it is like to work in your field. Many mathematicians mention
handson experience before graduating as an asset when looking for a job
and as valuable in helping them decide what kind of first job to look for
after graduation.
Note:
Some resources in this section are provided by the
American Mathematical Society,
Mathematical Association of America,
Society for Industrial and Applied
Mathematics,
and the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

