Job market / Self awareness

If you are a mathematics student and don’t want to work in finance, what else can you do?

Just when you thought that understanding Godel’s incompleteness theorems were the most difficult questions you could face on your mathematics degree, along came an even more challenging one. What will you do if you have decided you don’t want to work in finance? 

Man must decide his way forward to success or failureThere is a perception that mathematicians only want (or are only qualified) to work in finance. But what if you instinctively know that financial services isn’t a sector that interests or motivates you – what are the realistic options for mathematicians?

The 2015   ‘What do graduates do?’ survey found that 42% of mathematics graduates were employed in finance, business and HR related professions 6 months after graduation. A significant number of mathematicians also progress to further study (20-40% over the last 4 years at the University of Warwick’s Mathematics Institute).

That still leaves a substantial number who work in a variety of non-finance industries. The analytical, problem-solving and logical thinking skill set developed on a maths degree is highly regarded. It is also extremely transferable and according to the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA):

‘…almost 2 million people now work in jobs where mathematical sciences qualifications are essential’ Where do mathematicians work?

TOP 10A good time to be a mathematician…?

In terms of the variety of exciting roles potentially available, yes! In no particular order, here are 10 job roles to consider where the underpinning skills of a numerate graduate are highly relevant.

Unfortunately, I am one of the 3 out of every 2 people who do not understand fractions so I will leave it to this guide How maths is used in the workplace  to illustrate how mathematical techniques and concepts are practically applied in some of these roles and industries.

1.’Big data’  

The sexiest job of the 21st century.‘ Alas, it’s not careers guidance but data analytics.  How business, for example, uses data analytics to understand their customers behaviour to inform future strategy has become increasingly influential. There are predicted to be thousands of jobs available in data analytics for the forseeable future, the 8% salary increase in this sector identified by an IT resourcing firm in 2016 testifies to the demand for people with big data expertise Experis survey

2. Transport modeller

If you think traffic lights and junctions are just randomly situated on our roads, think again. A transport modeller has painstakingly sifted through data to make predictions about their impact on traffic flows.

Cyber Attack A023. Cryptographer

What can I say? Well, not a lot actually given the Official Secrets Act. Suffice to say you will be using your analytical skills to solve problems. Try this sample aptitude test to increase your awareness of the skills assessed during the  GCHQ recruitment process.

4. Teacher

There is an acute shortage of mathematics subject specialists in secondary education. If you are passionate about inspiring others and want to use your degree in a very rewarding way, why not consider teaching? Bursaries of up to £27,500 are available through a variety of training routes  Training to Teach

5. Operational Researcher

Operational research evolved during the second world war and the analytical techniques developed were subsequently applied in business and government and have become an academic discipline. If  stochastic processes, simulation and heuristics float your mathematical boat this is a role where those techniques can inform decision-making.  A glance at the exhibitors at the Operational Research Society’s careers open day in 2016 highlights the variety of organisations and business’ employing operational researchers.   OR careers day  

6. Sports betting consultant

There is a more reliable method of predicting the winner of the Grand National or the FA Cup than merely having a hunch or following your instinct. In the sports betting industry, modelling techniques are employed to forecast outcomes. If you are interested in the research in football betting, take a look at the preeminent paper in this field   Dixon Coles model

7. The games industry

The mathematics used in the development and design of a game (algebra, discrete mathematics, trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra for example) is complex. How a character or an object moves in a game is determined by the application of mathematics and physics.

Data analysis is also an emerging trend in the industry (understanding how the user interacts with the game can help a studio develop the game to increase retention) and offers further opportunities for mathematicians. The games industry is competitive, one way to demonstrate your passion and skills and to differentiate yourself is to develop your own game.  Unity – free game engine

8. Meteorology 

A  BBC survey in 2015 suggested that “at almost any moment in this country, at least a third of the population is either talking about the weather, has already done so or is about to do so” If you are one of the many people in the UK with a keen interest in the weather and you are also a mathematician, a career in meteorology beckons! What is the Met Office?

9. Civil Servant 

Analytical skills, logical thinking and ability to solve problems…attributes developed on a mathematics degree. They will be highly valued in the variety of departments that a career in the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme could lead to.

10. Consultant

Can you connect with people? Explain complex ideas and data in an accessible way? Could you answer the ‘how many people travel in the London Eye in one hour’ brainteaser question in an interview? If so, have you considered consultancy? Watch a candidate interview to gain insight into the consulting process   Case Study interview

New window.It doesn’t end there!

Remember that the majority of graduate employers do not require a specific discipline. There are so many more options, so start researching and reflecting to see where mathematics can take you.



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