To become a mathematician you usually have to study mathematics at university. There are several different degrees within which you can study mathematics. These include arts, engineering, and science. Mathematics can also be studied at some universities as part of a double degree with other courses such as law, medicine, actuarial studies, and finance.
Step 1: Excel at Math in High School
Students who are interested in pursuing a career as a Mathematician should take as many mathematics courses in high school as possible. Most high schools require students to complete three years of math, which often includes geometry and algebra.
After completing geometry, students may have the option of taking trigonometry, pre-calculus, and calculus.
Along excelling at math, you should strive to earn high grades in every subject. A high GPA increases your chances of getting into good colleges and universities and may also be needed for financial aid or grants.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics
A Bachelor’s Degree is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a Mathematician. However, most jobs, especially in the private sector, require a Master’s Degree.
The most common major for future Mathematicians is Mathematics. Mathematics is available as a major at almost every university and college. Courses typically cover advanced Mathematics such as calculus, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and differential equations.
Many aspiring Mathematicians choose to double major in Math and a related discipline. In fact, most undergraduate math programs encourage students to take courses in other fields such as Physics, Statistics, Business, Computer Science, or Engineering.
Double majoring or taking courses in other fields may make you more desirable to potential employers after graduation.
Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree
Most employers prefer to hire Mathematicians with Master’s Degrees. Master’s Degree Programs in Mathematics tend to focus on specific subfields.
According to the American Mathematical Society, there are currently 64 different Mathematical disciplines. Examples of subfields of Mathematics include:
Aspiring Mathematicians should consider the industry or field that they want to work in and choose an appropriate Master’s Degree program. For example, if you want to work as a Cryptographer, you may choose a Master’s Degree in Cryptography.
For those wanting to teach Mathematics at the high school level, you may need to pursue a Master’s of Teaching Degree with a focus on Mathematics.
Master’s Degree programs in Math are typically divided into two groups, Applied Mathematics, and Theoretical Mathematics. Applied Mathematics uses established Math theories to solve problems while Theoretical Mathematics focuses on the development of new Math theories.
Step 4: Obtain a Doctoral Degree in Mathematics
A Master’s Degree should prepare you for most Mathematician jobs. However, becoming a faculty member at a university or college typically requires a Ph.D.
Students who obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics often go on to become Professors or Researchers. Both jobs involve independent research and the publication of the results of the research. Some colleges and universities also require you to become published before offering a position.
Step 5: Learn How to Use Advanced Analytical Software
Mathematicians who work for private industries or the Federal government often need to analyze complex figures, which requires advanced analytical software and computer modeling software.
Courses for analytical and statistical software may be available to students when earning a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree. If the courses are not available, you may need to search for online courses or use tutorials to teach yourself how to use the software.
Step 6: Apply for an Internship
During your undergraduate or graduate studies, apply for an internship to gain work experience. Many colleges and universities have programs available to help place you in an internship.
Internships are often offered by potential employers such as Biomedical companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and Federal government agencies. Common internships include mathematical modeling for private companies, deciphering encryptions for law enforcement agencies, and performing statistical analysis for economic advisors.
Step 7: Join a Professional Organization or Society
There are at least a dozen professional organizations in Mathematics in the United States. One of the largest organizations for Mathematicians is the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Founded in 1888, the AMS has about 30,000 members.
Joining a professional organization provides networking opportunities and additional resources for furthering your career. You also gain access to Mathematics conferences, which give you a chance to explore new Math theories and techniques while meeting others in your field.
Step 8: Start Looking for Entry-Level Jobs
After completing your education, you can start seeking employment as a Mathematician. Mathematicians are necessary for a wide variety of industries and fields including Engineering, Healthcare, Business, Economics, and Law Enforcement.
Potential employers may include Biomedical Research Firms, Pharmaceutical Companies, Federal Agencies, Insurance Agencies, Technology Companies, and the Airline industry.