The rapid growth of big data and statistics paired with advancements in science and technology have opened up endless opportunities for those with math degrees. Individuals with a STEM background, including those with advanced education in math and statistics, have become crucial in a wide range of commerce and public life. Business, healthcare, research, government, and many other fields rely heavily on these areas and increasingly provide an exciting range of math careers.
One of the most significant forces behind the growth in careers for math majors has been the explosion of big data, which has far-reaching implications in our daily lives. We are generating almost inconceivable quantities of data, a phenomenon expected to generate $103 billion annually by 2027, more than doubling the 2018 revenue. This much is clear: the number of jobs for people good at math will continue to grow alongside these changes.
In-Demand Careers for Math Majors
The key to your success in this new era will be ensuring you hone your capacity and understanding to meet the unfolding needs and opportunities. Complementing a math degree with a Master’s in Applied Statistics is one of the most effective strategies for maximizing your professional opportunities and impact in years to come.
Let’s explore some specific careers for math majors, particularly those with advanced education, and the career possibilities they offer:
- Data Scientist
- Market Research Analyst
- Financial Analyst
The field of statistics offers one of the very best careers for math majors. Statisticians are crucial to the work and future of virtually every industry and enterprise. Renowned mathematician and statistician John Tukey described the universality of the work in this way: "The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone's backyard."
Statisticians collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative data to guide their employers or clients to make more informed decisions. This type of understanding is critical as organizations deal with a future of ever-increasing data and information.
More specifically, these are some of the tasks statisticians perform:
- Identify and collect data to solve problems
- Apply mathematical theories and techniques to practical problem solving
- Develop models for data analysis
- Interpret data and communicate results
Statisticians typically have a degree in mathematics, economics, or statistics. While some entry-level and government jobs for math majors are available to those with only bachelor’s degrees, most statistician positions require a master’s degree.
Career Outlook for Statisticians
The future for math careers in statistics is bright. U.S. News and World Report’s “100 Best Jobs” ranks statistician second in its list of “Best Business Jobs,” #5 among “Best STEM jobs,” and #6 among its overall list of “Best Jobs.”
Employment opportunities for statisticians are expected to grow 35% by the year 2029, which is nearly nine times the national average for all job growth.
In the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the median salary for statisticians is $92,270. The top ten percent of statisticians earned more than $150,840. A master’s degree is often a factor in advancement and higher earnings.
In the conversation about promising math careers, the field of data science continues to emerge as an exciting source of innovation and opportunity. Data science brings together multiple disciplines, including statistics, scientific methods, data analysis, and artificial intelligence (AI) to discern trends and insights from machine learning processes.
Data scientists help leaders and decision-makers optimize their processes and approaches to business and organizational strategies. One of the leaders in the data science field is IBM, which specifies five key processes that define data science methodology:
- Capture raw data
- Maintain consistent organizational processes and formats for data
- Process data to determine how suited it is for use
- Analyze data using a variety of methods to extract relevant insights
- Communicate meaningful insights from data for decision-making
Career Outlook for Data Scientists
Data scientists are important to various businesses and industries, including computer systems design, management companies, and enterprises, consulting services in management and scientific and technical fields, insurance, scientific research and development, and more. Cloud computing is another rapidly growing area of opportunity for data scientists, offering the unique benefits of the discipline to many small- and midsize organizations.
Individuals with the proper training and skill set for data science work are still relatively rare and in high demand. A recent IBM survey found opportunities growing over 5% per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 31% by 2029 for data scientists.
The BLS records a mean annual wage of $103,930 for data scientists and mathematical science occupations. The highest ten percent of earners in the field earn over $165,000.
Another of the promising careers for math majors is in the actuarial field. Actuaries work from a deep knowledge and understanding of math, statistics, and business to help companies and organizations understand and manage risk. The work of actuaries is crucial to enable both industry leaders to make wise strategic decisions and consumers to prepare for their future.
A background in mathematics is crucial for an actuary. The role often requires previous coursework and an advanced understanding of statistics, skills that can be gained through an MS in Applied Statistics.
Career Outlook for Actuaries
The BLS has projected an 18 percent growth in the market for actuaries by 2029. Actuaries are essential to the insurance industry but also work in a variety of other fields crucial to societal well-being. The Society of Actuaries has detailed ways that actuaries contribute in a wide range of career paths:
- Banking and financial services: assist with capital management, product portfolio, and risk assessment for banks and financial service companies
- Health and retirement financing: offer direction for social insurance in areas like proper funding and population projections
- Investments and fund management: help asset managers manage risk and also offer insights in areas such as structured finance and hedging strategy
- Environmental finance: apply statistical and financial techniques to important financial issues
- Senior management: provide big-picture management and business oversight for an entity’s highest level decision-makers
Actuaries are also key players in the big data revolution that has made predictive analytics so crucial. Actuaries prepared for the future of applying statistical analysis to big data are equipped to use predictive analytics to guide and improve organizational and business strategies in a variety of advanced ways.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for actuaries is $111,030 per year. Actuaries also enjoy a high level of upward mobility, and the upper ten percent make more than $196,010 per year.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts are the eyes of most businesses and organizations deciding how, when, and where to present their products and services to their audiences. Market research analysts assess market conditions to help companies understand what people want, what they will buy, and how much they will pay.
Gathering and analyzing data is a significant part of the process for market research analysts, as they investigate demographics and trends, consumer preferences and needs, and purchasing habits. They play a pivotal role in a company’s self-understanding of their position in the marketplace and formulate a plan for maximizing impact through messaging and overall productivity.
While entry-level positions can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, advanced market research analyst jobs require a master’s degree. The emphasis on statistics makes an MS in Applied Statistics a smart route to succeeding in the field.
Career Outlook for Market Research Analysts
From 2019 to 2029, the job market for market research analysts is expected to grow by over 130,000 jobs or 18 percent. That’s more than four times the anticipated average job growth of all professions.
In assessing the future and possibilities in this field, it’s also worth noting that market research analyst positions sometimes use other job titles, including:
- Business Analyst
- Business Development Analyst
- Marketing Analyst
- Marketing Data Analyst
- Digital Marketing Analyst
The BLS most recently calculated the median annual salary for market research analysts at $65,810. The upper end of the field, most likely those with advanced education and experience, make more than $127,410.
Financial analysts gather and analyze detailed data and statistics to help individuals and businesses make well-informed financial decisions. These analysts utilize relevant data to identify opportunities, risks, and project outcomes, playing a vital role in developing profitable economic and investment strategies.
Financial analysts often focus on particular industries, products, or geographic areas, working from a foundation of core capacities in economics, finance, and statistics. That creates opportunities for analysts in a wide range of contexts. The BLS identifies several different types of financial analysts, including:
- Investment Analysts
- Financial Risk Specialists
- Securities Analysts
- Fund or Portfolio Managers
While a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is generally a minimum requirement for financial analyst jobs, the field is very competitive. Advanced degrees like a Master’s Degree in Applied Statistics have become common in the market and provide a significant advantage in pursuing a career as a financial analyst.
Career Outlook for Financial Analysts
The job market for financial analysts is projected to grow by five percent between 2019-2029. Trends in big data are a significant factor in the anticipated growth, and job candidates with strong training in fields like applied statistics will possess a distinct advantage.
BLS data indicates a median annual salary for financial analysts of $83,660, and the top ten percent of the field earn more than $159,560 annually.
Seizing the Opportunities Available in Math Careers
The future will continue to be rich with jobs for people good at math. Will you continue to take the steps necessary to position yourself to maximize your skills for a career you love? Continuing your education is one of the surest steps you can take in that direction. The right program will prepare you to:
- Develop a powerful statistics toolkit to meet the rising demand for data experts
- Build the advanced foundation required to perform a detailed and impactful analysis of data in the workplace
- Advance professional skills required to present outcomes with confidence and clarity
Big Data Means Big Opportunities at Michigan Tech
Michigan Technological University’s online Master’s in Applied Statistics cultivates in-demand skills for those seeking advanced math careers. Our 100 percent online program is ideal for busy professionals and can be completed in as few as five semesters. You will develop expertise for the future, broadening your existing math background to wider competencies that pave the way for a more fulfilling, lucrative career.
The Master’s in Applied Statistics will enable you to:
- Build on your experience and bachelor’s degree with advanced practical knowledge to add depth to your STEM career
- Work with real datasets to overcome common challenges and drive decision-making
- Improve familiarity with industry standards software and tools such as R, SAS, S-Plus, and Python
Schedule a time to connect with an Enrollment Advisor to discover how you can build upon your bachelor’s degree and add depth to your STEM career.