How to Become a Mathematician

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How to Become a Mathematician: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a mathematician, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a mathematician:


• You have a keen interest in mathematical theories and techniques

• You have an advanced ability to think logically

• You enjoy analyzing data and solving complex problems

• You are skilled in areas of mathematical analysis, such as statistics, calculus, and linear algebra

• You have the ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem

• You enjoy advising others with regards to mathematical applications and methods

• You have the patience and determination needed to complete the required education


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a mathematician. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Mathematician

You typically need to earn a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in a field of mathematics, such as algebra, geometry, or calculus in order to become a mathematician. There are however, many career options for those with bachelor or master’s-level educations in mathematics. The specific educational requirements for becoming a mathematician can depend on a variety of factors, including:


• Whether the mathematician will be working in theoretical or applied mathematics

• The level of responsibility the mathematician will have professionally

• Whether the mathematician will be working in private or public industry


Undergraduate Degree: Having an undergraduate degree in mathematics will qualify you for a variety of positions, typically in applied mathematics. Those with a double major in mathematics and a relevant subject, or with an additional degree in that subject (such as education, finance, computer science, etc.), are particularly desirable to many employers within private industry. Such jobs may include:


• Data analyst

• Payroll manager

• Financial advisor

• Pricing analyst

• High school teacher

• Treasury manager

• Energy auditor

• And many, many more


Master’s Degree: Obtaining an M.Sc. degree in mathematics often qualifies graduates to work in many applied research positions, as well as mid and senior-level positions in private and public industry sectors such as economics, computer science, finance, business administration, and many others. They may also qualify to instruct mathematics in some colleges and universities. The positions that graduates with a master’s degree in mathematics qualify for may include:


• Actuary

• Research associate

• Financial analyst

• Quantitative analyst

• And many others


Doctoral Degree: A Ph.D. degree in mathematics qualifies graduates to work as university professors, as well as lead and senior researchers in universities and private research organizations. These graduates may also work as consultants for private and public industry, and apply their abilities to solving problems in areas such as:


• Finding solutions to business operational problems, and their accuracy and cost

• Finding ways to better understand the observed behaviour of a system

• Determining the possible behaviours that a configuration might exhibit




What is a Mathematician?

Mathematicians are professionals who specialize in the study of mathematics. There are two main types of mathematician, theoretical and practical. Theoretical mathematicians are academics who tend to focus solely in the philosophy and study of mathematics. Applied mathematicians, however, are professionals who apply their skills in mathematics to work in disciplines such as physics and engineering.


Although some applied mathematicians are true applied mathematicians (such as those that work as consultants) many are not formally known as mathematicians. Instead, they take on other professional titles, related to the industry in which they work, and reflective of the responsibilities of their job.


For example, in the world of computer and computer systems design, they may be known as computer programmers or systems analysts, and in the finance industry they may be known as quantitative analysts, financial analysts, or statisticians.



Mathematician Job Description

The general job description of a mathematician can vary depending, on whether they work in theoretical or applied mathematics.


Theoretical Mathematician Job Description:


Theoretical mathematicians are responsible for conducting research for the purpose of identifying unexplained issues in mathematics and resolving them. Their primary concern is to explore new areas and relationships of mathematical theories for the purpose of increasing knowledge and understanding within specific areas of mathematics.


The knowledge they develop can be an important part of achievements in a variety of scientific fields, such as engineering, biology, physics, medicine, computer science, finance and organizational structure.


Applied Mathematician Job Description:


Applied mathematicians are responsible for applying mathematical theories and techniques, such as mathematical modeling, to solve real-world problems within a variety of industries.


Some applied mathematicians are true mathematicians who may be responsible for acting as consultants and working with other professionals to solve these problems. For example, they may work with chemical engineers in the pharmaceutical industry to analyze the effectiveness of new drugs.


Other applied mathematicians may not be known formally as mathematicians; they may be known by other professional titles and use their knowledge and abilities in mathematics, combined with specialized training in other areas, to solve problems related to the industry in which the work.


For example, they may work as Quantitative Analysts in the financial industry, who are responsible for designing and implementing complex models that allow financial firms to price and trade securities in order to generate profit and/or reduce risk.



Mathematician Job Duties

• Conduct research in application of mathematical techniques to science, engineering, military planning, electronic data processing and others

• Design and conduct research projects in fundamental mathematics

• Design and conduct research projects in branches of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, number theory and others

• Conceive and develop ideas for mathematical applications in a variety of fields such as military planning, science, engineering and electronic data processing

• Combine knowledge of certain subject fields (such as logistics, management, biology, economics, engineering, astronomy and others) and mathematical methods to solve problems





Who Creates Jobs for Mathematicians?

Theoretical and applied mathematicians are employed on a part-time, full-time, or contractual basis by a wide variety of organizations, including:


Employers of Theoretical Mathematicians:


• Public and private scientific and research institutions

• Colleges and universities (as researchers or instructors)


Employers of Applied Mathematicians:


• Banks and other financial institutions

• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government departments

• Insurance and assurance companies

• Pension benefit consulting firms

• Science and engineering consulting firms

• Scientific institutions and research agencies

• Public and private school boards

• Colleges and universities



Find Mathematician Job Opportunities

Mathematician Jobs - Canada


Mathematician Jobs - United States



Skills Needed to Become a Mathematician

In order to become effective in a career as a mathematician, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• An advanced ability to think logically

• The emotional and intellectual stamina to apply prolonged effort to a problem

• Precision and accuracy when performing calculations

• Skilled in areas of mathematical analysis, such as statistics, calculus, and linear algebra

• The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem

• The ability to communicate ideas clearly, especially to those without advanced mathematical knowledge



Characteristics Needed to Become a Mathematician

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a mathematician, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as a mathematician is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• A passion for mathematics

• Enjoy analyzing data

• Enjoy solving complex mathematical and logical problems

• Enjoy applying mathematical techniques to practical or academic problems

• Enjoy advising others regarding mathematical applications and methods



Mathematician Salary

The salary level of mathematicians can vary depending on factors such as their personal qualifications and aptitude, the size and type of their employer, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.


Mathematician Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Mathematicians, Statisticians and Actuaries occupational group earn an average of between $31.69 and $43.46 per hour.


Mathematician Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Mathematicians, Statisticians and Actuaries occupational group is $77,867 per year.


Mathematician Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Mathematicians occupational group is $101,360 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this occupational group are below $56,040, and the top 10% are above $152,950 per year.



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Careers Similar to Mathematician

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Mathematician, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.






University Professor



References: Mathematician Career Information

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a mathematician.


Alberta Learning and Information Service website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:



Scholarships for Becoming a Mathematician

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Mathematician can be found on our Mathematics Degree Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Mathematician: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a mathematician. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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