How to Become a Mathematician

If you’re skilled at mathematics and would like to use your skills to solve problems and develop new theories, then you might like to become a mathematician.

To broadly define the field, there are two different types of mathematicians.

Theoretical mathematicians work with hypotheses and abstract theory.

They work in colleges and are usually employed as professors.

Applied mathematicians use their skills to solve problems.

They work within engineering, computing, or are employed by state and federal governments.

You will need to have strong academic skills to become a mathematician, along with a good work ethic as you’ll need to complete quite a bit of education in this area.

Most importantly, you’ll need to have a real passion for mathematics and numbers.

Education Requirements to Become a Mathematician

If you’re in high school and would like to become a mathematician, then you should start taking as many math courses as you can.

You should aim to be at a pre-calculus level before you start college.

Getting a tutor can be helpful, as it will allow you to advance through advanced work quickly.

Look for a college that offers an advanced mathematics program.

You will need to complete a four year degree program in advanced mathematics.

An second option is to take a degree in mathematics, and then a postgraduate course in advanced mathematics.

A bachelors degree in advanced mathematics will allow you access to an entry level role in applied mathematics.

The best opportunities will go to those with a postgraduate degree such as a masters.

To work as a theoretical mathematician you will need to complete a PhD.

Most are employed as college professors, where a doctorate degree is the minimum requirement to work at this level.

If your goal is to work in this field, you should complete a four year undergraduate degree in advanced mathematics.

You’ll then need to move into doctoral studies.

You might also like to complete some graduate teaching work while you are studying.

Mathematician Job Description

A theoretical mathematician is employed by a college as a professor.

They will spend a good part of their time teaching classes and working with their students.

They will also spend time working on their own theories, and increasing the knowledge base of mathematics we have.

Theoretical mathematicians are not really concerned with the real world applications of their work.

However, it is often the work that they do that allows advances to be made in fields like engineering, architecture, and finance.

An applied mathematician is employed in an area like government, engineering or finance.

They might use their knowledge of mathematics to help design a building or a bridge.

They could develop software for new computing programs with formulas they produce, or they might work completing a census and compiling data.

The work of an applied mathematician is very varied, these professionals are found within many different fields.

Mathematician Salary and Career Path

When you become a mathematician, you could find yourself working in many different workplaces.

A theoretical mathematician will nearly always work in a college.

They will start out as a graduate teacher or research assistant, and as you gain experience, you would have more opportunity to conduct your own independent research and work towards tenure.

Applied mathematicians are employed by all kinds of companies.

Many will start in entry level or trainee roles, then move into more advanced positions as their skills grow.

Some will eventually move into supervisory or management positions.

Many who work in applied mathematics work under different job titles, such as computer systems analyst or engineer.

Their jobs are very much centered around the principles of mathematics.

When you become a mathematician, you can expect a median salary of $91,000 a year.

There is strong growth predicted in all fields of mathematics in the future.

Some similar roles to that of mathematician include:

  • Math teacher
  • High school teacher
  • College professor
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Computer programmer
  • Engineer

For further information on careers in mathematics, take a look at the American Mathematical Society.

Working as a mathematician can be very challenging.

If you’re passionate about math then this career is a great opportunity to do a job you really love.

Whether you are interested in the abstract principles of math, or the real world application of its theories, becoming a mathematician might be perfect for you.

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