Many people don’t consider mathematics as a science, but it is actually the basis for almost all science careers. Mathematicians apply mathematical theory, models, and algorithms to scientific problems in every field of science.
Mathematical theoreticians develop new principles and relationships to increase knowledge of the field. They often work as university professors, dividing their time between teaching and research. Applied mathematicians work in industry, business, the government, and all areas of science and engineering using mathematical models and theories to solve practical problems. Mathematicians, called cryptanalysts, are used to analyze and construct encryption systems. Other workers, such as computer engineers, physicists, and economists, use many of the same strategies as mathematicians in their positions.
Most mathematicians will need a master’s or PhD to find work. They often work as part of research and development teams in laboratories or as university professors. Some with bachelor’s degrees can find work in the federal government or in other fields, such as engineering, economics, or physics.
Mathematicians usually work in offices as part of interdisciplinary teams or as high school and university teachers. They may be employed by a corporation, research and development laboratory, or government agency.
The number of mathematicians working in 2008 was 2,900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another 54,800 people worked as math teachers in postsecondary positions. In the federal government, 81 percent of the employed mathematicians worked in the Department of Defense. Many others worked for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) or NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).
The employment growth for mathematicians from 2008 to 2018 is predicted at 22 percent, much faster than for all other professions. The largest fields for mathematicians will be in computer science, software development, physics, engineering, and operations research.
The average median salary for mathematicians was $95,150 in 2009. For the federal government the average was $107,051 for mathematicians; $107,015 for mathematical statisticians, and $101,645 for cryptanalysts.
Last Updated: 06/04/2014