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Thinking Of A Career in Applied Mathematics?

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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.

Careers Brochure


Careers Brochure

Mathematical careers outside of academia rarely carry a simple title of “mathematician.” The very idea of a career in mathematics has evolved and diversified and is often coupled with a specialty or area of research interest. Mathematics plays a major role in the bottom line of industrial organizations, and helps companies perform better in today’s data-driven marketplace.

A career in applied mathematics is more than just crunching numbers. It's being able to use mathematics to solve real-life problems and make an impact in the world. Our careers brochure highlights various career titles that fall under applied mathematics, where you can make your impact, and much more, including profiles of professional mathematicians and computational scientists. Order, download, or read the brochure below.

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Where Can You Make an Impact?

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Many different types of organizations hire mathematicians and computational scientists. You can easily search the websites of organizations and corporations that interest you to learn more about their location(s), mission statement and objectives, history, and job requirements. Experience gained through internships and work-study opportunities can help you determine your personal preferences regarding a workplace, such as non-profit or for-profit, large or small, working independently or on a team, and how much customer contact you prefer to have.

Here are some examples of organizations that hire mathematicians and computational scientists:

  • Academic institutions and research institutes
  • Aerospace and transportation equipment manufacturers or service providers
  • Analytics and forecasting organizations
  • Chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers
  • Communications services providers
  • Computer information and software firms; established or start-ups
  • Consumer products companies
  • Energy systems firms
  • Electronics and computer manufacturers
  • Engineering research organizations
  • Financial service and investment management firms
  • Government labs, research offices and agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Medical device companies
  • Producers of petroleum and petroleum products

What Kinds of Problems Might You Work on?

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

  • How can an airline use smarter scheduling to reduce costs of aircraft parking and engine maintenance? Or smarter pricing to maximize profit?
  • How can one design a detailed plan for a clinical trial? Building such a plan requires advanced statistical skills and sophisticated knowledge of the design of experiments.
  • 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 do 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 and aircraft 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’s the most efficient way to do so?
  • How might disease spread in populated areas in the event of a bioterrorism incident, and how would it be contained?
  • Can we measure sentiment change as a result of social media shares, likes and comments?
  • How do you design a robotic hand to grip a coin and drop it in a slot?
  • 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?
  • Can computational simulations show sufficient detail to capture the effects of the chemicals, but still be fast enough to permit studies of many different chemicals?
  • 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 the consumer experience based on their past purchases, behavior and interests?
  • Can we provide insight to coastal communities about future sea level rise and the risk and likelihood of effects of climate related events on their communities?

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

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Growing fields to consider and look deeper into:

Systems Biology

A career in this field might include the application of a wide range of mathematical and computational methods. For example, mapping and understanding the human genome relies on the use of sophisticated mathematical and computational tools. Newer and better tools make research quicker and cheaper, resulting in the creation of new career opportunities in technology, medicine, and drug development and design.

Data Mining and Data Privacy

Data mining allows the discovery of patterns and previously unknown information in large data sets. Emerging career opportunities can be found in applications of data mining in fields such as security, forensics, e-commerce, bioinformatics and genomics, astrophysics, medicine, and chemical and electrical engineering.

Materials Science

Materials science is the study of the properties, processing, and production of a broad range of existing and new materials, including metallic alloys, composites, liquid crystals, biological materials, and thin films. The rational design and analysis of materials depends on mathematical models and computational tools. Career opportunities abound in science, manufacturing, and materials design for applications in fields such as aerospace, engineering, electronics, biology, and nanotechnology.

Computer Animation and Digital Imaging

The Fields Institute in Toronto describes computer animation as “an eclectic science that uniquely combines mathematics, computer science, fine art, classical animation, physics, biomechanics, and anatomy, to name but a few fields. Algorithms for computer animation rely heavily on techniques from scientific computation, statistics, signal processing, linear algebra, control theory, and computational geometry.” With a diverse and exciting set of applications to such areas as medical diagnostics, entertainment (film, television, and video games), and fine arts (dancing, sculpture, painting), there are many avenues and career opportunities to explore.

Finance and Economics

Financial mathematics is the development of quantitative techniques and computational models used in the financial industry. Banks, insurance companies, investment and securities firms, energy companies and utilities, multinationals, corporations, government regulatory institutions, and other industries have come to rely on applied mathematics and computational science. Sophisticated math models and the computational methods and skills needed to implement them are used to support investment decisions, to develop and price new securities, to manage risk, and for portfolio selection, management, and optimization.

Ecology/Epidemiology/Environment

Professionals in these fields might look at populations and their interactions and model them as systems of differential equations that can be used to model diseases in human populations (i.e. the spread of infection under various immunization protocols). Other applications in these fields include the management of ocean fisheries and the study of insect population growth, spread, and reaction to insecticides.

Climatology

Climatology depends on simulating the component forces that drive the climate, for example, ocean circulation and heat exchange between land, air, and ocean. It requires very sophisticated models based on physical principles, expressed as complex partial differential equations. These are implemented in very large-scale numerical codes on high-performance computers, and use data from observations of satellites, ocean buoys, and other monitoring equipment to drive the solutions.


How Do You Get Started?

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Choose a major, or consider a major/minor pairing

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


Use your university’s resources

Many universities offer career services and human resources departments. Services such as career assessments can help you narrow your search to suit your personality and interests. Other resources may include resumé help, interview preparation, and job opening announcements.


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 actually 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. You may also be able to work with a faculty member and some other students on a research problem that originates from a business in order to learn and to get experience with the approaches needed to solve such problems.

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, for example SIAM. Attend conferences, and meetings to connect with other 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.


Fit for a job?

Don’t discount job postings for computer scientists, engineers or other titles that may not specifically be part of your career preparation. Often a person with training in the mathematical sciences has skills that apply and can pick up the rest on the job. Do you need to have every skill listed on a job description? 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—tools like differential equations, probability, combinatorics, applied algebra, and matrices, as well as the art of abstraction and advanced computing and programming skills. Preparation for a career in applied mathematics and computational science also involves being able to apply these skills to real-life problems, and achieving 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 STEM Backgrounds

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  • Actuary
  • Analyst
  • Analytics Consultant
  • Analytics Manager
  • Applied Mathematics Researcher
  • Associate Editor
  • Biostatistician
  • Business Analyst
  • Business Intelligence Developer
  • Claims Specialist
  • Consultant
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Cryptographer
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Operations Associate
  • Data Processing Specialist
  • Data Scientist
  • Director of Math Tutorial Curriculum
  • 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
  • Manager
  • Math Curriculum Coach
  • Math Curriculum Consultant
  • Mathematician
  • Modeler
  • Modeling Engineer
  • Operations Researcher
  • Operations Support Specialist
  • Pharmacokineticist
  • PK/PD Modeler
  • Planner
  • Principal Scientist
  • Product Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Programmer
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Systems and Compliance Manager
  • Quantitative Analyst
  • Quantitative Developer
  • Quantitative Pharmacologist
  • Quantitative Researcher
  • Quantitative Scientist
  • Quantitative Software Engineer
  • Reporting Engineer
  • Research and Development Engineer
  • Research Analyst
  • Researcher
  • Research Scientist
  • Risk Analyst
  • Risk Strategist
  • Scientist
  • Simulation Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Staff Scientist
  • Statistician
  • Strategist
  • Supply Chain Analyst
  • Systems Engineer
  • Technical Staff
  • Tutor


Profiles

Profiles

Want to learn more about careers in applied mathematics 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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Internships

Internships

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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Resources

Resources

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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Job Board

Job Board

Check out our easy-to-use platform for job seekers and employers - a great way to connect! Set up job alerts or follow the @SIAMJobBoard Twitter to get updates whenever a new job is posted. Our platform offers a fast and easy way to self-post your recruitment advertising, and for employers to post positions.

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