Every article on jobs for math majors is bullshit

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.

1. Mathematician
2. Actuary
3. Data analyst
4. Engineering and technology
5. IT
(6. Teacher)
(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).

About Aeoli Pera

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28 Responses to Every article on jobs for math majors is bullshit

  1. Alex says:

    I doubled majored in econ and math at a reputable university. Three years after graduation, I was still flipping burgers for a living. From high achieving honors student to scraping the bottom of society. Imagine an old classmate’s surprise when he saw me working in the back kitchen one day. The look on his face lol.

    It was only very recently that I landed a proper job – a bank job. And the only reason I landed it was because I knew someone. Had absolutely nothing to do with my degree. I just hope I don’t screw this up, or it’s back getting yelled at by immigrants all day for minimum wage.

    • Edenist whackjob says:

      Learn programming.

    • How did the rest of your class do job wise?

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        That’s a good question. I graduated in December, so I was the only math graduate in my class. I’d also be curious about the anecdotal evidence. You can look up the data, but these cats have entire job fields for obscuring the truth of it (it’s kinda like how “accounting” is more about “hiding” now).

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >I was still flipping burgers for a living.

      When you put it that way people get the impression that you were actually “making a living”, rather than existing on the charity of your kin. I know it’s obvious to us but it’s not obvious to everybody.

  2. podrag says:

    Duh everyone knows you only do a Math degree to show that you can talk to YANG! FROM CHINA!

    i.e. keep the Geeks in line. BACK TO WORK AEOLI! I need the profit margin on the buyout of that company that makes those lifesaving drugs for Veterans by Tuesday! I need to know what happens when we triple the price, quadruple the price and then what happens when we just take it off the market altogether. And quit you’re whining or I’ll get YANG to do it!

    • podrag says:


      • Aeoli Pera says:

        I took a course from the guy who got first in that competition. He was an amazing human being, but I think I disappointed him with my spotty math skills and relatively low intelligence. Probably got his hopes up with my creativity and engagement.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        You know, it bugs me that they try to play it off as a lame comedy. On the other hand, this is a pattern I’ve noticed for high-IQ exposes.


        Tom Kratman’s Carrera series. A thin veneer of sci-fi over editorial columns. Also They Live. A self-conscious “dark comedy” without a single funny moment that I noticed. Or a dark moment either, actually.

        I’m starting to think this must be an MT thing. The TT version of these things would be more like Watchmen: flawed but beautiful and terrible.

        (That attribution is incorrect and funny. It implies JRR is coming out of the closet.)

        MMs seem to be more into performance art. Making stuff is for the little people.

        • Seikis says:

          One could say that maybe he was thinking of everyone having opposites feelings clashing constantly about him. Was he wishing to give us Tingles?

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >I need the profit margin on the buyout of that company that makes those lifesaving drugs for Veterans by Tuesday! I need to know what happens when we triple the price, quadruple the price and then what happens when we just take it off the market altogether.

      More or less shameful than Euler living in a tree stump and sucking dick for fifty dollars?

      At least Euler is offering a genuine service.

    • Aeoli Pera says:


      It must be mentioned (at least in passing) that I would do so if given an iota of a chance. Maybe I never really unplugged, I honestly dunno.

  3. Heaviside says:

    >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).

    It’s actually pretty easy; all you have to do is molest some kids and be born in a foreign country.

    • podrag says:

      Heaviside are you insinuating something? 10 re-educations for you. Next you’ll be saying that all you have to do to be First Lady is have a penis and be called Michael or something.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      That would be easy if not for the cisnationalists in Kenya. They’re standing in the way of my self-identification as a native-born Kenyan pedophile.

  4. Aeoli Pera says:

    Bro I can’t afford that. I make less than $500/mo, my wages are garnished at 15%, and my tax return gets confiscated so all that social security/medicare/etc. money is a de facto 20% tax.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Oh Lord, we’ve even talked about this. xD

      My bad, I’m a fucking retard.

      • Jdc says:

        Hey, if you get the chance install Fedora 23 Plasma(KDE) on your machine. It’ll blow Ubuntu away in terms of speed and tech as Fedora is cutting edge. It makes Windows 10 feel like an antiquated pile of creaking garbage on my old Core 2 Duo desktop.

        Also another technology that’s really cool is Google’s polymer which uses web containers an up and coming web standard. Honestly the tech’s so good in front end these days what with Flexbox and CSS Grids coming soon.

        I’m going to give Revel a try as well as a Golang back end server. But there’s little need for backend these days outside of authentication and persistence. Even then you can use technologies such as local storage which is like a browser cache for content.

  5. Jdc says:

    I heard Ai research is on the rise. A lot of financial algorithms would use math too.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I have a 3.39 GPA from a second-tier state university. Not exactly top-flight talent here.

      I’m not wrong about the prospects, an English degree would have been a better choice.

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