When you think of lucrative careers, you may think of doctors, lawyers, investment bankers – but perhaps not the math occupations. However, every math occupation pays a median salary more than twice as high as the median wage for all jobs. Many professionals working in math careers command six-figure salaries at some point during their careers. Among the highest-paying jobs with a math degree are mathematician roles in the private sector, federal government positions, and jobs with titles like actuary, statistician and operations research analyst.
Private Industry Mathematician Roles
Though mathematician is a small career, encompassing just 3,100 jobs in the United States, it offers big earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a $103,010 median salary for mathematicians in all industries. While that median wage a high salary by most standards, earning potential is even higher for mathematicians in certain industries. For example, mathematicians who work in the field of management, scientific and technical consulting services – about seven percent of the occupation – enjoy a $120,840 median salary, the BLS reported. The 17 percent of mathematicians working in private industry roles in scientific research and development see wages nearly as high, with a median salary of $119,500.
Research and development roles also offer high wages for statisticians. This related occupation is larger than mathematicians’ but less lucrative. Statisticians in this industry earn a median wage of $91,610, more than $7,500 above the median for all statisticians.
Mathematician is an occupation with a massive wage difference. The highest-paid mathematicians earn nearly three times as much as the lowest paid do, at $157,090 compared to $54,830, resulting in a wage difference of $102,260, the BLS reported.
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Government Roles with Six-Figure Salaries
The federal government puts a high value on the math professionals whose work affects everything from the development of public policy to budgeting for the cost of Department of Defense systems. Government jobs are some of the highest-paying roles in the math occupations. The federal government accounts for 35 percent of all mathematician jobs, paying a median wage of $111,990. Other math occupations fare well financially under government employment, as well. The federal government is the highest-paying industry for statisticians, with a median salary of $103,630, and for operations research analysts, who earn a median wage of $111,570, the BLS reported.
Actuaries who work for the government earn a median wage of $98,830, slightly below the overall median for the occupation, according to the BLS.
Actuaries’ Earning Potential
Actuary might just be the most lucrative occupation you have never heard of before. Actuaries apply their knowledge of advanced mathematics and statistics to evaluate risk and its financial cost.
The income potential for actuaries starts off strong, with entry-level salaries typically in the $45,000 to $65,000 range. Factors such as success in passing one or two professional certification exams, grades in college and experience through an actuary internship can affect the number of job offers a new actuary receives as well as his or her starting salary. As actuaries gain more experience and pass more exams – a series of seven to 10 certification exams, in all – their income increases considerably. The BLS reports a median wage of $101,560 for actuaries, and the most experienced actuaries who attain full fellowship-level certification can see wages of $150,000 to $250,000 or more.
Among STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs, actuary has the third-largest wage gap. The bottom 10 percent of actuaries earn a median wage of $58,080, compared to the $180,680 median salary for the top-paid 10 percent, the BLS reported.
Math Careers With $80K Median Wages
Mathematician and actuary may be especially lucrative options, but even the less profitable of the math careers offer good salaries. Statisticians earn a median wage of $84,060, and the jobs in this occupation are much more plentiful. The BLS expects opportunities in the occupation, which is already 37,200 strong, to grow by 34 percent, or 12,600 new jobs within a decade. Operations research analyst is the largest math occupation, with 114,000 current workers and another 31,300 new jobs anticipated. The median wage for operations research analysts is $81,390 per year, the BLS reported.
In the math occupations, more education doesn’t necessarily translate to a better salary. Actuaries and operations research analysts often have only bachelor’s degrees, while the mathematician and statistician roles requiring a Ph.D. are among the lowest-paying.