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What are some fields for people(myself) that excel in Math?

I don’t know what I want to major in/do in my future however I plan on taking calculus (as a junior) and have a 4.0. I know I have endless choices I just don’t know of any specific jobs. #choosing-a-major #college-major #college-majors #mathmatics #math #college

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Greg’s Answer

As the previous commenter noted, almost all forms of engineering require mathematics at some level; mechanical, civil, and aeronautical engineering, for example, deal with stresses and strains on materials, sheer forces, aerodynamic and/or hydrodynamic forces (drag, flutter, etc.), oscillations, resonances, noise (both audible and electronic), failure probabilities, etc. Electrical engineering and materials engineering get into the quantum (physics) arena, 3D structure, lattices, and so forth. Even "squishy" fields like bioengineering involve things like statistical analysis of experimental results, topological models (e.g., protein-folding), chaos theory (population histories in unstable regimes, i.e., population explosions and crashes), combinatorics (genetics), etc. Software engineering has any number of open, extremely difficult questions involving computability (NP and siblings), formal correctness proofs of parallel, distributed systems, etc., but there's also plenty of "day to day" mathematics (and engineering) in areas like computer graphics, computer vision, AI, and robotics.

Many of the sciences are also math-heavy, most obviously physics and astrophysics, but also (perhaps surprisingly given its "dismal" label) economics and many others. And then there are mathematical fields themselves, e.g., statistics and category theory (the latter with surprising industrial applications being worked out right now--John Baez regularly posts about this: https://plus.google.com/u/0/117663015413546257905), not to mention the traditional "academic" ones, many of which have surprising and extremely subtle connections to each other (e.g., group theory, topology, complex analysis, number theory)--and many of those connections were originally hinted at by physics theories before being formalized by mathematicians.

And finally, there's (big) data analysis, data visualization, and predictive modeling, all of which are frequently relevant to all of the above. Many data sets have more than just three dimensions, so figuring out how to display them sensibly, how to make them easily navigable, how to identify "hot spots" or local minima/maxima or trends or whatever, is currently and will probably remain a busy area for some time to come. (Upcoming science missions like the Dark Energy Survey [https://www.darkenergysurvey.org/] will generate terabytes of data every day, as will personal genetic analyses, remote/satellite sensing, gravitational-wave experiments, etc.; in a few years it will be petabytes or exabytes.) Simulating/modeling complex systems has been a key component of most forms of engineering and the physical sciences for half a century; the NAS facility at NASA Ames highlights some of them: https://www.nas.nasa.gov/ . (I was fortunate enough to do some of my research there in the 1990s.)

In short, there are many potential jobs open to you, and you'll likely have time to explore a number of options in your future coursework, which will help you to define what you're most interested in. Both mathematics and physics are excellent "foundation" majors for a whole variety of careers; I studied physics/astrophysics but started my career in corporate research (graphics, compression, virtual worlds, UIs, etc.) before pivoting to web search, then cluster computing, and now distributed data infrastructure at a social-networking company. (I did embedded Linux in there somewhere, too. :-) ) Perhaps the most important thing is not to limit yourself too much, too early; flexibility and a willingness to keep learning new things throughout your career (and to take chances when new, "weird" opportunities arise) will serve you well.

Greg recommends the following next steps:

Look through some of the links above, but keep in mind that they're not even close to representative of the whole space, just what I had handy.
Google any of the specific keywords above that sound interesting and see if you still think so after learning more about them.
Follow some good science or engineering communicators' postings; I'm fond of physicists Brian Koberlein, Sabine Hossenfelder, Rhys Taylor, and Ethan Siegel, mathematician John Baez, and the general news articles at Science News and phys.org, but there are literally countless others. Wikipedia can also be a good source of background info and links to deeper explorations (not to mention countless distractions...).
Don't wait for schooling; make a hobby of whatever floats your boat! I happen to love 3D visualizations; ergo, last week's ski trip: http://gregroelofs.com/3D/gps/sugarbowl.html , http://gregroelofs.com/3D/gps/northstar.html .
Keep your eyes open for local "hack day" events if you like to write code. Doesn't have to be great; doesn't even have to get finished. Just making the attempt is valuable experience, and the next one will be better.

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Lisa G.’s Answer

If you are interested in applied mathematics, you might want to check out the website BeAnActuary (http://beanactuary.org) #beanactuary. An actuary is a business professional who evaluates risk, often in an insurance company. There are also more nontraditional opportunities for actuaries because risk is so much a part of modern life.

If you like what you see on the website you should know that you need to be a self starter as an actuary, so you can pass the exams required to get the credentials while you are also working in a business environment. But you don't have to go to school beyond an undergraduate degree to get these credentials.

Lisa G. recommends the following next steps:

Check out the website BeAnActuary (http://beanactuary.org)

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Andrea’s Answer

Hi Seth,

Excelling in math is a great starting point! My son, a high school senior, was in a similar situation when looking for colleges and he investigated careers in Engineering and Finance. Yes, you can major in finance and math, what opens the doors e.g. for investment banking. These are very much on the opposite spectrum of the scale but provided him a good contrast. Most colleges have both schools, business and engineering, and many provide a path with a major and minor across both fields. In the end, he decided to apply for a Computer Science Engineering major because he felt this field provides him more opportunities for an entrepreneurial career. He still plans to do internships in large corporations to see both worlds.

A good way to look at it is to do where you are your best. Being your best in your career has a lot to do with doing what you love.

Good luck,


Andrea recommends the following next steps:

Write down where you excel and what you love to do.
Review credits required for undergraduate studies e.g. in the area of Engineering and Finance. Consider both, math requirements as well as the things you love to do.
Be curious! Select a field, e.g. Artificial Intelligence, or a person you are passionate about, e.g. Elon Musk, and do some research on the internet. Write down what inspires you. Think of it like "the person I dream of becoming". This is also a typical college essay prompt :)

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Douglas’s Answer

I would Google "Engineering Jobs" to see the many areas that might interest you. But there are many other fields that need math majors. Google 'jobs for math majors" and see the listing that appear.

Good luck,