Why Math

Why YOU Should Study Mathematics

Employers, professional programs, and graduate programs are looking for people who have a core of transferable skills. These are skills that prepare you for a job in nearly any industry or business and allow you to adapt to new situations readily. Indeed, with the fast pace of technological changes today, you will likely change jobs several times in your life and eventually will likely find yourself in industries that are not even imagined today. On this webpage, we will explore:

Transferable Skills

All majors in the College of Liberal Arts focus on teaching students valuable transferable skills, but the mathematics skill set is unique. By its nature, the mathematics major teaches a skill set distinguished by its focus on technical material, rigor, reasoning, and communication. Such skills include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Discipline Learning/Applying difficult and complex concepts
  • Problem solving
  • Generating solutions
  • Data analysis
  • Pattern recognition
  • Identification of relevant and extraneous data
  • Computational skills
  • Understanding of algorithms and processes

Jobs for Mathematics Majors

Although a few mathematics majors will eventually have a job title of "mathematician," most of us have job titles that do not immediately reveal our mathematical background. Here is a short list of jobs that mathematical acquaintances of the Mercer mathematics faculty have done over the years. Some of these jobs require a graduate degree in mathematics or a specialized field and some do not.

  • Accountant
  • Advertising consultant
  • Actuary
  • Bioinformatics specialist
  • Business analyst / consultant
  • Business manager
  • Computer programmer
  • Cryptanalyst or Cryptographer at the National Security Agency
  • Engineer
  • Financial advisor
  • Financial mathematics analyst / Financial engineer
  • High school teacher
  • Lawyer
  • Minister
  • Officer in the U.S. Military
  • Operations research consultant
  • Physician Professor
  • Software developer
  • Statistician

For some first-hand accounts of mathematics majors who have proceeded into a wide variety of jobs, visit the MAA Career Profiles site.

Other information about jobs in mathematics can be found at the following websites.

  • Information on Math Jobs from Purdue University
  • More Information on Math Jobs from RIT
  • Early Career Info from the American Mathematical Society
  • Sloan Career Cornerstone Center
  • Careers in Finance
  • Careers in Business
  • Statistics Career Opportunities
  • How to be an Actuary
  • Search for mathematics jobs in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Video on careers in mathematics from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

What You Study

Now that you are interested in pursuing a mathematics major...what does that entail? What topics will you study? Clearly, calculus is a cornerstone of the curriculum but what else? The first courses in the curriculum focus on studying rates of change, slopes, and areas. There will be need to develop computational ability and geometric understanding. As you get further into the curriculum, the central theme is understanding mathematical objects, understanding relationships between such objects, and creating arguments to verify these relationships. The curriculum for our mathematics major includes studying most of the following:

  • rates of change & areas
  • equations that describe rates of change & their solutions – very useful for modeling and applications
  • solutions to linear systems of equations and the structure of the mathematical objects involved
  • the mathematics involved in computer science
  • probability theory & application of statistics
  • methods and techniques of creating mathematical models and analyzing them
  • the underlying theory of calculus; properties of various types of functions, sequences, series, etc.
  • results that come when calculus is applied to functions that accept and produce complex numbers
  • properties of and relationships between geometrical objects
  • methods and techniques of proof writing and communicating mathematics
  • the structure of various number systems and systems of mathematical objects

For more information, simply visit one of our faculty members in Ware Hall to talk about our courses and majoring in mathematics