7 Jobs that Use Math: Finding the Formula for Your Future
For many people, math is an unlikable subject. Lots of professionals can get by in their careers with a calculator and the occasional Google search. But that’s not you. You’re into math. Or perhaps what’s even more important, you’re good at math—and you’re starting to realize that’s a major asset in your toolbox.
If you’re drawing a blank on math-heavy careers after “mathematician,” then take heart! There are lots of different jobs that use math in a big way—some you may never have considered before. All of these careers have mathematics in their top 15 important knowledge areas, according to U.S. Department of Labor. Across industries, employers are looking for candidates with good minds for mathematics. Check out some of these careers for a sampling of what’s available.
7 Intriguing jobs that put math skills to use
You’ve always been a numbers person. So why not use that to your advantage in your future career? Regardless of where your interests lie, there’s an opportunity for you to leverage your love of math to make a living. Learn more about seven options:
1. Informatics nurse specialist
Informatics nurse specialists use their specific knowledge to assist in the design, development and modification of computerized healthcare systems. They work with systems data to improve nursing services and act as a bridge between nursing and information science.
Preferred education: Bachelor’s degree or higher
2016 median salary: $87,220*
Why math matters: Nursing informatics is a highly technical job involving software design, system testing, health data analysis, IT applications, troubleshooting and designing specific research studies to gather information. Nurses already need a baseline of knowledge in statistics and chemistry, but nursing informatics specialists need an even broader array of math abilities in order to draw meaningful conclusions from data collected and provide process improvement recommendations.
Learn more about this job and others in our article, “6 Real Work-From-Home Nursing Jobs.”
Okay, you probably anticipated this one. Accountants are one of the most famous “numbers” professionals out there. But still, if you’re savvy with math, you might want to give accounting a closer look.
Accountants prepare and examine accounting records, financial statements or financial reports to assess accuracy and conformity to accounting standards. These professionals manage tables of accounts, compute taxes and comb through financial data to ensure there are no mistakes.
Preferred education: Bachelor’s degree or higher
2016 median salary: $68,150*
Why math matters: Accountants spend most of the day working with numbers, so accuracy is a huge deal. Skill in math is important for computing taxes, fixing or managing budgets and keeping the financial records straight.
Learn more about life as an accountant in our article, “10 Must-Know Pros & Cons of an Accounting Career.”
3. Computer programmer
Computer programmers write and test code for computer applications and software programs. Programmers use languages like Java, Python or C++ to write and update programs that can be designed for nearly anything—ranging from accounting software to video games.
Preferred education: Bachelor’s degree preferred (though some employers are flexible)
2016 median salary: $79,840*
Why math matters: Computer programmers use mathematics to solve problems. The job involves lots of evaluating and analysis. An understanding of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and their applications could all come into play on the job. Some of those subjects might not apply as much as others, but this career has endless variations based on where you work.
Check out our article, “Is Computer Programming Hard? Not if You Have These 6 Characteristics” for more details.
4. Data scientist
Data scientists create and execute algorithms to find useful information and solutions, even forecasting into the future and imagining new uses for the massive quantities of information available. With personal devices and the internet widespread, there’s a staggering amount of data being collected throughout the world. Data scientists are the people who use that information to answer big question or find useful and interesting connections between varying data sets.
Preferred education: Master’s degree
2016 median salary: $111,840*
Why math matters: Data scientists work with big data. This aspect alone demands math skills. Their work isn’t just a simple calculation like finding the median in a range of numbers—these data sets are so massive that it takes complex algorithms to properly analyze and draw conclusions from them. Data scientists need a strong grasp of statistics (along with its limitations) to be able to do their jobs.
If you could use a more detailed job description, check out our article, “What Is a Data Scientist? The Simple Answer You've Been Seeking.”
5. Financial analyst
Financial analysts advise businesses and individuals in making smart investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, evaluate financial positions and goals, study business trends and make investment recommendations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These analysts often work for banks, insurance companies and investment-related businesses and are the number crunchers who evaluate risk and earning potential for a variety of financial instruments.
Preferred education: Bachelor’s degree
2016 median salary: $81,760*
Why math matters: Financial analysts are entrusted with other people’s money. Whether you advise an individual or a multibillion-dollar company, your analysis of risk, reward and the fluctuations of the market have a huge impact. Financial advisors will likely make calculations every day and being able to understand the math is crucial, especially in something like compounding interest, for example.
Want to learn more? Check out our article, “What Does a Financial Analyst Do? Beyond the Numbers.”
6. Pharmacy technician
Pharmacy technicians (pharm techs) help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. They mainly work in retail pharmacies and hospitals, according to the BLS. Pharm techs work under the supervision of pharmacists while measuring medications, collecting information, organizing inventory and interacting with customers. Depending on the state they work in, pharmacy technicians may also mix medications.
Preferred education: Certificate or other postsecondary training program
2016 median salary: $30,920*
Why math matters: Pharmacy technicians have many tasks involving quantities, counting and pricing. They prepack bulk medicines, fill bottles with prescribed medications, price prescriptions that have been filled, count stock of medications and inventory—and they are constantly verifying quantities and weights. There is very little room for error in this job. Your math needs to be precise and double-checked.
For a little more information on the role, check out our article, “What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do? Exploring the Work of the Friendly Face Behind the Counter.”
7. Supply chain manager
Supply chain managers are in charge of the complex chain that links products, consumers and companies together. They coordinate the production, purchasing, warehousing and distribution need of their company. They aim to limit costs, improve efficiency and accuracy and keep everyone safe in the distribution process.
Preferred education: Bachelor’s degree.
2016 median salary: $74,170*
Why math matters: Supply chain managers hold a complicated series of locations and metrics in their minds as they make decisions. They may need to determine appropriate equipment and staffing levels to load, unload, move or store materials that are needed in order to keep a calculated inventory. They also are responsible for making tactical choices about purchasing and routes for optimal transportation. These concerns all require calculation and good mathematical abilities.
For more details, check out our article, “6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Supply Chain Management Career.”
Find a career that counts
As you can see, there are a wide variety of jobs that use math out there—and this list is only the beginning. Most likely, math isn’t the only skill you bring to the table. Different combinations of skills and personality preferences can narrow the huge list of math-heavy jobs into a more specific career direction.
Maybe you’re strong in math and in writing? Or science? Or creativity? The options go on and on. That’s why we created a Career Aptitude Test. Check it out to see which career options match your personality and skill set best.
*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries, and employment conditions in your area may vary.