Don’t major in math

Here’s how prospective math majors (hardworking, naive idiots) usually look at it.

I love math, especially in its pure and abstract forms. I would like to get a doctorate some day, but ideally I’d like to find a job as soon as I get my bachelor’s. I’ve expressed this interest to important people in my life (like my parents and such) and the general consensus is that there aren’t any jobs for math majors. I can’t really disagree. Aside from teaching it, something I’m not sure I’d want to do, I can’t think of any jobs for math majors. So, what options are out there for me if I did decide to switch? Would my future consist of high school math classes? Also, how much work is involved?”

Here’s the reality.

Here’s a story for all the math majors and future math majors reading this:

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math 6 years ago. I graduated with honors and a good GPA from a good college. My current job prospects are horrible. I am stuck at a dead end programming job where I earn less than $40,000 per year even though I live close to a major US city and have over 5 years of work experience. I make less money than my “dumb” friends from high school currently make.

Perhaps I’m to blame for thinking that being good at math meant I was intelligent, but I feel morally obliged to warn people reading this who might be on the same boat. My honest suggestion to you is to major in something else. Unless you want to be a math teacher or an actuary, [Ed: You aren’t qualified for the former, and you need to pass some difficult tests for a very slim chance at the latter.] I implore you not to listen to anyone who tells you that you can do a million things with a math degree and that you should major in anything you want and the money will follow. Those are cliches and empty promises that don’t mean anything in the real world.

You could argue that you could major in math and possibly end up with a programming job, since I did it, but don’t expect to get hired to work as a software engineer unless you have additional qualifications, expect to work doing quality assurance or fixing code. It doesn’t matter how smart you think your degree in math makes you, you can’t compete with the millions of computer science majors in this country when it comes to programming jobs.

If you like finance, accounting, science, engineering, or some other subject, why not major in that subject? Why waste your time and money learning math formulas that will be of no use to you in the real world? If you major in math, and end up working as an accountant, don’t you think you would be a more competitive candidate for accounting jobs if you had majored in accounting?

That’s my advice to you guys. Do whatever you want with your lives but if you end up like me don’t say that you were not warned.


So we’ve heard about the prospects of math majors with good GPAs at good schools. What happens to math majors with normal GPAs from normal schools?

It’s been about two weeks since I graduated and I’ve become horribly depressed. The more I look at jobs out there, the more I get depressed because I am qualified for none of them. I simply don’t have any skills that I can apply that they’re asking for without a ton of studying to do it. Months of studying. It’d be basically like doing a bachelor’s degree in the field on my own time if I were to make myself more marketable in what they’re asking for. I can’t be a financial analyst because I know nothing about finance. I can’t be a data analyst because I don’t know enough programming (quickly trying to remedy this). I never took any business classes. I didn’t do that great as a math major (applied math & statistics), but I finished with a 3.08 GPA (got mostly B’s…university professors graded rather hard as the avg. GPA for freshman across all majors for instance is 2.7 but I was not an extremely studious student either) from an OK state school well-known for engineering.

I don’t know what to do. I went to all of the career events they offered, had my resume looked at by professional employers more than once, attended the career fair and handed out my resume to many companies, and haven’t heard back from anyone. I had one interview, but he never contacted me any further. I applied to graduate school to retrain in engineering, but I was shut out – no admissions. People claim that being an actuary after being a math major is the way to go but it is too much studying and I don’t feel like I remember much from my undergraduate training that’s relevant at all to industry. I can’t get into data analyst positions because I don’t have the programming experience (trying to quickly get some). I can’t do computer programming because we only needed to take C++ but that was over 2 years ago that I took it. I took numerical methods, but we just needed EXCEL, which is not really a useful skill for data analysis since people wan SQL, R, SAS, which I don’t have any experience in.

cosmicfractal in California City, California

He neglects to mention that even if you pass the actuary tests, no insurance company is going to give your application a second glance with a GPA that low. You need a 3.8 at least, and a 4.0 is de rigeur.

Here’s the propaganda you get when you ask people whether you should major in math, with realtalk in bold.

“There are lots of places where people with mathematical skills can find work,” says Michael Pearson, Associate Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America. [Yeah? Show me five job postings.] You don’t have to teach math or be a mathematician when you graduate with a math degree. [Even better, you simply won’t be qualified for either!] There are many jobs for math majors that don’t even require any special use of mathematics. [For example, I’m stocking shelves at a grocery store part-time overnight. The pay and hours are shit and I can’t afford my student loan payments, much less food or shelter, but at least I’m ruining my relationship with my parents.] That’s because math teaches its students logic and analytical thinking, which helps in most careers. [Almost everyone I’ve met with a solid career lacks these skills.]

According to Connie Jung, an undergraduate advisor at the University of California, Los Angeles, a few years ago it seemed like every math major wanted a job in finance. Now, since the recession started, teaching is more popular. [Lol, that’s one way to spin the fact that you can’t get a job in finance anymore.] Actuarial science (applying mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries) is growing in popularity too—maybe because it’s a specialized field that touches on finance, Jung says. [Yeah, actuary science, funny how everybody says that.] These occupations are just some of the more popular job destinations for math majors. [Where Popular = “This job field doesn’t even exist in ten continental states.”] When combined with any number of majors or minors, the possibilities are endless where a math degree can take you. [That’s like saying English is a great major if you double-major in accounting.]

What Can You Do With A Math Degree?

I have not seen a single article like this written by someone with a math degree. They are all repeating lies they’ve read in other articles written by other people who don’t have math degrees.

Here’s what people with math degrees say:

Math is a useless degree. The math teacher shortage is a scam, and in the private market, a math degree is worth nothing more than any old dumbass degree like basket weaving.

Over the last 14 years, I’ve been keeping track of the number of jobs I’ve seen advertised that require a math degree… not “math or accounting or basket weaving” etc., just math only. It’s not a few, it’s not just one, it’s ZERO.


I’ve actually seen one, but I still got an automated rejection e-mail within an hour of applying.

A Math BA doesn’t get you a teaching job since you aren’t certified and school systems are being rated/judged on number of “highly qualified” (meaning holding a state teaching certificate) staff members are employed.
If you want to teach your degree should be BS ________________ Education. And no, your time isn’t taken up in pedagogy classes. I had to have 60 credits just in my major, in addition to the general requirements, in addition to pedagogy classes to get my original teaching certificate.
The problem a lot of you guys on here have who want to teach is that you didn’t get a teaching degree but a BA. Aren’t college advisors doing their jobs?

North Beach Person

The problem isn’t that they’re lying on purpose. It’s like everything else in this dumbass country, you get raped by people who don’t even realize they’re doing it and then they get offended when you point it out.


About Aeoli Pera

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4 Responses to Don’t major in math

  1. The problem with the math/phyics/hard-science degree is probably that you can get away being an asoical, introverted monkey doing puzzles all day. This is OK if you plan on going to grad school were being quirky/smelly/something is OK. But otherwise, you end up sckrewed.

    Let’s look at other peoples:
    The math majors who weren’t smart enough for math, or want a job end up being engineering dudes. Spend four years skill building, sacrificing social life and extra poon, doing internships during the summer and you get a nice job at the end.

    The business kid are working on getting a jobs/internships from day one of college.Their degree is basically a networking degree, as their courses are a joke and they have tons of free time to socialize/do whatever normals do. You also see lazy, but practical smarties here. The extroverted midwits do extremely well.

    The liberal arts kids are basically the same as the business kids. But the high IQ introverted ones who read all day and take it too seriously with no plans of grad get screwed like the math majors.

  2. Edenist whackjob says:

    Complaining about your math degree? You have a high IQ and a certifIcate to prove it!

    What you thards need is some street smarts. IQ + streetQ == megabux.

  3. Pingback: Every article on jobs for math majors is bullshit | Aeoli Pera

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