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Career Options

Career lines linked with mathematics degrees

Mathematics without a doubt is a beautiful subject, and it is an indispensable tool in science and engineering. Students who earn a degree in mathematics have training that will enable them to enter almost any career path. Medicine and Law are two careers that are not commonly associated with mathematics, yet there are individuals in these professions who owe their success, at least partly, to a knowledge of mathematics. From understanding the genetic code to designing hacker proof web transmissions, to guiding a spacecraft to its ultimate destination mathematics is a needed tool.

Career options with an Applied Mathematics Degree

The BS degree in Applied Mathematics has six emphases: Math, Actuarial Science, Economics, Statistics, Computational Science, and Biological Science. The APMS degree is the most flexible degree and prepares students for the widest possible number of careers.

Over half of the APMS graduates seeking employment directly after graduation look to business, in particular consulting firms and technical companies. All of these companies are looking for people with good problem solving skills. Employers need to be able to train new employees to solve their particular technical problems. In the broadest possible terms, math graduates are hired to work as part of a problem solving team. The best way to determine what is currently hot is to go to the Engineering Job Fair, the Sciences Career Fair, and the Career Center.

Math Emphasis: Students getting a BS in Applied Mathematics with the Math Emphasis have prepared themselves for graduate school in Mathematics and employment with high-tech firms, engineering firms, and consulting companies. The career opportunities with high-tech firms will depend in part on a student's programming ability and willingness to take a job which requires some programming. Recently Hewlett Packard hired a graduate to work in their mathematical programming group. Texas Systems and Tivoli Systems hire graduates to be software engineers. All these jobs require employees to be able to both program and do mathematics. There is a high demand for mathematicians with programming skills. However, the type of high-tech jobs that are available changes greatly from year to year.

Actuarial Science Emphasis: Students pursuing an Applied Mathematics degree with the Actuarial Science Emphasis have chosen a degree that is suited to a career in business, particularly actuarial and financial consulting. An actuary is a mathematician who analyzes risk. Pension actuaries work with client firms to help them determine their retirement liability and funding status, while casualty actuaries work in insurance firms and run statistical models to determine proper insurance premiums. Actuarial and financial consulting firms that have hired recent graduates include AIG, Aon Hewitt, EY, Fidelity, Forethought Financial, Houston Casualty Company, Mercer, Towers Watson, and USAA. A minor in business or economics is well suited to this degree plan. Some graduates with this degree go on to graduate school in finance, economics, or business, but if you are interested in a graduate-level mathematics or mathematical finance degree, you will need to take additional mathematics courses. Those who want to pursue this degree but are also interested in teacher certification should consider Post Bac Certification or emergency certification.

Statistics Emphasis: The government always needs mathematicians. The CIA, NSA, FBI, NIST and Census Bureau need mathematically trained personnel. Some former students have been hired by the state transportation division. Most of the students who graduate with an APMS/STAT degree go on to graduate school in statistics. At present, there is a shortage of statisticians. A Masters in Statistics will greatly improve the chance for a high paying job. Career options also greatly increase with a masters degree. People with a masters degree have recently found positions with banks, INTEL, pharmaceutical firms, and biotech firms.

Economics Emphasis: Like the Actuarial Science Emphasis, graduates of this degree plan can be hired to be business analysts, financial analysts, and actuaries. A minor in business is well suited to this degree plan. Some graduates with this degree go on to graduate school in economics, finance, and business. A Masters degree will greatly improve the chance for a high paying job. Career options also greatly increase with a Masters degree.

Computational Science Emphasis: Some graduates with this degree will go on to graduate school in Computer Science or seek employment with such companies as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and government agencies such as NSA, and NASA. A Masters in Computer Science will greatly improve both pay and career options both at places listed for the BS and other types of firms needing advanced IT help.

Biological Sciences Emphasis: Students graduating with an APMS degree with an Emphasis in the Biological Sciences have chosen a degree that is suited to a career in applications of mathematics to the life sciences. The 21st century has been dubbed the Century of the Life Sciences. The life sciences are poised for revolutionary advances in this century. Among the many areas of the life sciences in which mathematics makes enabling contributions are: genomics, computational neuroscience, modeling human and animal physiology, epidemiology, ecology, and pharmacology. Breakthroughs in these fields will be made by interdisciplinary teams of scientists, statisticians and mathematicians working in commercial (industrial) laboratories, governmental laboratories, privately or publicly funded research centers, and universities. Information on career opportunities in mathematics applied to the life sciences can be found at the websites of the Society for Mathematical Biology (http://www.smb.org/) and the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (http://www.siam.org/). A minor in biology or some other area of the biological sciences is well suited to this degree plan. This degree plan will prepare you for graduate work in mathematics or statistics with an emphasis in applications to the biological sciences. People interested in teaching as one of several possible options should consider Post Bac Certification or Emergency Certification. If you are interested in this option, there are specific math courses that should be chosen for your math elective courses.

Career Options With a Mathematics Degree

The BS in Mathematics is the "pure mathematics" degree. The mathematics courses required by this degree prepare students for graduate school in mathematics, physics, and engineering. Because this option requires a total of 26 hours of science courses, 10 hours more than the APMS degree, it is also a good degree for students who are intersted in science as well as mathematics and pre-med students. If you are planning to attend a medical school, the BS and BA in Mathematics are the best degree plans. Please see the Office of Professional School Advising (OPSA) website for more details: http://opsa.tamu.edu/index.shtml.

For students not planning to pursue an advanced degree, the jobs open to graduates with a BS in Mathematics are similar to the job opportunities of APMS/MATH graduates. Technical companies that have hired recent graduates include Microsoft, Apple, Google, and CGG Veritas. These firms hire people to be software engineers and to design web pages. Software development firms can pay very well, but they expect prospective employees to be able to program. This degree plan only requires 4 hours of computer science, so it would be wise to take one or two more CSCE courses if you want a job with a high tech firm.
In summary, there are many job opportunities available with this degree, but this degree will not train you for a specific profession. It would be best to start attending job fairs in your freshman year to get an idea of what sort of jobs interest you and what courses besides math courses will strengthen your resume.

The BA in Mathematics is designed primarily for students who are interested in teaching, pursuing a professional degree in medicine or law, and those students who are interested in both mathematics and some other area. The BA in Mathematics requires the fewest number of hours of mathematics and has 27 hours of free electives, but it does require that at least 15 hours be taken in some focused area of study other than mathematics. Students planning to attend a professional school (medical, dental, law, etc.) may use the 27 hours of free electives for courses required for the school. Please see the Office of Professional School Advising (OPSA) website for more details: http://opsa.tamu.edu/index.shtml.

Students interested in the liberal arts and who can write will find that this degree plan with a minor in English or Communications is greatly desired by employers. In particular, technical firms frequently need people who can produce a logical argument and then explain it to others. Newspapers and publishing houses are other places such graduates are valued.

In closing, there are many exciting careers available to students with a degree in Mathematics or Applied Mathematics. The need for mathematicians is increasing and Texas A&M University has eight excellent programs which prepare our students to meet the challenge. If you have any questions as to which program would be best for you, an advisor would be happy to discuss your interests.