The previous post was more anecdotal, those following for the next couple of days will be more analytical.
When you type “jobs for math majors” into Google, you get a bunch of interchangeable clickbait written by non-technical people who just plagiarize each other’s articles all day. They all say “you don’t have to just be a teacher, you can do anything!”
Listen to me, because I was like you once. If you ask your adviser what you can do with a degree and the response is “all kinds of things”, run for the hills. In America black is white, wrong is right, and “anything” means “nothing”. So if your department has one of those posters that says “What can I do with a degree in X?” then you are in the wrong department. I’m looking at you, physics departments. The accounting department doesn’t have those posters, they have corkboards covered in job postings.
Here are the jobs these posters and clickbait articles recommend. I will follow this up over the next couple of days with a detailed analysis for why you aren’t going to get hired for any of them.
3. Data analyst
4. Engineering and technology
(7. Accounting, economics and finance)
Wow, they say this is the best job in the country! Remember how there are practically zero actuary science job openings out there? Yeah, it’s an order of magnitude worse for mathematicians. This isn’t a real career field, it’s not even a niche. You would really, truly, honestly be better off playing the lottery than pursuing this as a possible career. The existence of all 3,500 jobs in this category (count ’em!) is due to a very short-term bubble in the financial and data analytics sectors, and it’s already popping. Prospects in this field were nonexistent ten years ago, and they’re going to be nonexistent ten years from now when you emerge into the sunlight, blinking, with your PhD.
Yeah, that’s right, you can’t just major in math. You have to four-point at a decent school, have an IQ north of 140, ace the math GRE, get into a PhD program, compete with the entire continent of Asia, and specialize in financial mathematics (which is gross). And that’s assuming the bubble hasn’t completely popped, otherwise you just took a $200,000 shortcut to post-doc Hell. Enjoy watching the principal go up as you fail to make the minimum $2,000 per month payments. On the bright side, nobody ever understood compound interest better than you, you hyperintelligent stud.
You might as well try to be an astronaut, at least you’re stupidly hoping for something cool. Telling people they can become a mathematician with their degree is dumber than telling them they can be president of the United States (which is at least technically true).