It is necessary to consider a variety of factors when calculating the typical salary a person can expect to make as a mathematician. Some of these factors include the level of education the person has attained, the amount of formal training the person has experienced, where the person is employed and how long he or she has been employed, and any professional credentials that the mathematician may hold. For example, a mathematician who has a high level of academic training, such as a doctoral degree and perhaps post doctorate study, as well as several years of experience in industry or in faculty teaching and research positions will have the potential to earn more money than a similar mathematician who does not have these degrees and experiences.
However, there are other factors that need to be considered when providing an estimate of an expected salary, such as the number of employees at the mathematician’s place of work and the geographic location of the job. In general, mathematicians who work for large companies or universities in urban areas will tend to earn more money than those who work for smaller companies or institutions in more rural areas.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of a mathematician in the United States in May 2008 was $95,150. The middle 50 percent of mathematicians earned an annual wage between $71,430 and $119,480. The lowest 10 percent of mathematicians earned an annual wage of less than $53,570, while the highest 10 percent of mathematicians earned an annual wage that exceeded $140,500.*
In March 2009, the average annual wage a mathematician could expect to earn if he or she were employed by the Federal Government was $107,051 for pure mathematicians. The average annual wage was slightly lower for mathematical statisticians at $107,015, and it was slightly lower still for cryptanalysts at $101,645.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Mathematics is perhaps the oldest and most integral science of all the pure sciences. People employed as mathematicians use computational techniques, mathematical theory, algorithms, and the latest technology available in computing to solve a variety of problems in science, economics, engineering, and business. There are essentially two classes of mathematicians: pure mathematicians, who are also known as theoretical mathematicians, and applied mathematicians. Theoretical mathematicians focus on advancing mathematical knowledge, while applied mathematicians generally focus on using existing theories and techniques to solve practical problems.The outlook for mathematics as a profession in the United States is bright with high employment growth and job prospects.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
The traditional minimum educational requirement for individuals seeking employment as mathematicians is a doctoral degree in mathematics, except for individuals seeking employment in primary or secondary education or in the Federal Government.
Candidates seeking jobs in mathematics in private industry will typically require a doctoral degree to be competitive, although there are often opportunities for some candidates who hold master’s degrees. The majority of the positions designated as open for mathematicians will be located in laboratories focused on research and development, where mathematicians may serve on technical teams.
Within the federal government, candidates for entry level jobs will most often be required to hold a bachelor’s degree as a minimum entry qualification, which must also contain a mathematics major or at least 24 semester hours that were fulfilled in courses related to mathematics. People with only bachelor’s degrees in mathematics are typically not considered to be qualified for the majority of jobs outside the Federal government, and many people with such degrees go on to pursue advanced degrees, either in mathematics, or in careers and fields closely related to mathematics. However, people holding bachelor’s degrees who can also meet the requirements of the states in which they live may be eligible to teach mathematics at the primary or secondary school level.
There are no standard national certifications required for a person to work as a mathematician. However, individuals who choose to earn different forms of voluntary certification tend to increase their earning potentials and may be more likely to earn positions that involve higher salaries. There are several different associations in the United States that may offer advanced certifications to mathematicians. The requirements mathematicians must complete for certification may vary widely from one organization to another; for example, some may ask for a certain amount of education before offering certification, while others may ask for a certain number of years of work experience. Still others may require a combination of formal educational training and significant work experience for certification. The most common board of certification is the state, which typically requires certification of people seeking employment as teachers of mathematics at the primary or secondary school levels.
There are numerous professional associations that offer mathematicians the ability to seek certification and membership.
- The American Mathematical Society
- The American Statistical Association
- The Association for Women in Mathematics
- The Association for Computing Machinery
- The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
- The European Mathematical Society
- The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
- The Mathematical Association of America
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