You enjoy math, but working in academia or research just doesn’t interest you. Fortunately, math majors have a wide variety of job opportunities. One field that offers plenty of different jobs for students with a mathematics education is business. Your math degree can prepare you to work in business-focused math roles like actuary and operations research, or in jobs more firmly planted in the business arena, like financial specialist and business analyst careers.
One of the highest-paying careers in mathematics, actuary, has a strong business side. About 70 percent of all actuaries work in the finance and insurance industry, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. The job, which pays a median wage of $101,560 per year, involves using high-level mathematical and statistical analysis skills to determine the financial cost of risk as it applies to covered losses under insurance policies or to lending terms or investment options. You can become an actuary without earning a master’s degree, but to move up in the career, you will need to attain professional certification. This certification process is a major commitment that can take as long as 10 years, as actuaries spend hundreds of hours studying for each test in a series of difficult professional exams. Fortunately, actuaries earn pay raises throughout the certification process, seeing financial rewards for each certification exam they pass.
A similar career, insurance underwriter, is an option for math majors. This job involves less of the high-level mathematical calculations actuaries do and offers a median wage of $69,760. Underwriters use actuaries’ calculations to process insurance applications.
Operations Research Analyst
Like actuary, operations research analyst is a math role with important applications in the field of business. Operations research analysts draw upon their knowledge of mathematics and statistics to analyze data involved in all parts of a company’s operations. They hunt for solutions to the problems that limit productivity and otherwise hold the business back from achieving its full potential. More than one in four operations research analysts work in the finance and insurance industry and one in five for the professional, scientific and technical services industry, according to the BLS. Jobs in both management of companies and enterprises and the manufacturing industry account for nine percent of jobs in the field.
Five percent of all operations research analysts work for the federal government, the BLS reported. The Department of Defense is especially likely to hire operations research analysts and may prefer candidates with past military experience.
If you want to branch out beyond the math occupations, finance could be the perfect compromise. One financial specialist role open to math majors is financial analyst. In this role, you would use your math knowledge to evaluate investment opportunities for individuals and companies. Analyzing the numerical data associated with these investments can help you understand trends and predict which investments are most likely to pay off for your clients. Finance analysts earn a median wage of $84,300, the BLS reported. Financial analysts should consider earning the voluntary Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, awarded by the CFA Institute, and will need to become licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority if they plan to sell financial products.
If you like the thought of working in the field of finance, you can also consider a role as a personal financial advisor. Personal financial advisors must also research and analyze investment opportunities, but their work is more closely related to educating clients about their options and providing tailored advice that helps them meet their financial goals. Interpersonal skills are more crucial for personal financial advisors than for financial analysts. Rather than earning the CFA, personal financial advisors are more likely to pursue the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. Personal financial advisor is a great option for aspiring entrepreneurs, since almost one-quarter of the profession is self-employed, the BLS reported. The median wage for personal financial advisors is $90,640.
While you might think you can become an accountant with a math degree, since both fields involve working with numbers, but the fields are more distinct than you might think. Much of what you learn as a math major isn’t relevant to accounting, and vice versa.
Analyst Roles in Business
Success in business comes down to the numbers. The analytical skills you learn as a math or statistics major can help you do well in the business careers that focus on examining, manipulating and learning from these numbers. Budget analysts are responsible for monitoring spending and keeping expenditures within budget. More than half of budget analysts work in private institutions, including schools and entities of the federal, state and local government. However, many of the highest-paying roles for budget analysts are in the private sector, like the manufacturing industries, according to the BLS. The median wage for budget analysts is $75,240, the BLS reported.
A background in math and statistics is also helpful for a role in market research. Market research analysts on the quantitative side of sales and marketing. They gather and analyze data using statistical software to identify sales trends and the success of marketing efforts.
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