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MATH AND SCIENCE

Training for science and math careers can qualify you for a job that lets you learn and solve problems for a living. Here's some info some of the most exciting STEM careers in math and science.

Math and Science

Tech and engineering jobs may be seen as more mainstream among STEM careers than their counterparts in pure science and mathematics, but opportunity is far from scarce for those whose passion lies squarely in math or science. What's more, certain math and science careers can allow you to start working in your field while still on the path to the the graduate or post-graduate education that's typically necessary to find employment at the highest level.

What's more, some the nation's top universities have begun offering digital distance education programs that can help you achieve your career goals. Texas A&M University has emerged as one of the leading online colleges in mathematics, offering a Master of Science in Mathematics degree in the virtual classroom, and a number of online science schools have answered the call to offer similar programs in biology, physics, chemistry, anthropology, geosciences and more.

Job outlook and salary for math careers

As is the case with just about any occupational field, some math careers are expected to be in higher demand than others over the next several years. Here are some 2012-2022 job growth projections and 2014 national salary averages for a few of the top math careers in business and academic fields, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Statistician: 26.7 percent; $84,010
  • Actuary: 26.1 percent; $110,090
  • Cost estimator: 26.2 percent; $64,340
  • Mathematician: 22.7 percent; $104,350

One of the more surprising realities about a mathematics degree is that it can often combine with administrative training or work experience to produce a highly versatile skillset. Here's a list of the employment growth projections and salary averages for some other careers where graduates with math degrees may find employment after graduation, provided that other experience or skill requirements are met:

  • Financial analyst: 15.5 percent; $92,250
  • Operations research analyst: 26.7 percent; $82,940
  • Computer programmer: 8.3 percent; $82,690
  • Economist: 13,9 percent, $105,290
  • Market research analyst: 31.6 percent; $68,700

Teaching undergraduate math at the college level is also a common path for mathematics graduates, particularly those working toward a doctoral degree. Employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to increase 19 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Vital stats for science careers

Science careers come with a wide range of educational requirements, typical job duties and responsibility levels. Here's a list of some occupational titles for those looking to get a start on their career before completing their graduate or post-graduate work, along with the the BLS reports as the minimum degree typically required:

  • Environmental science technician: associate degree
  • Chemical technician: associate degree
  • Nuclear technician: associate degree
  • Environmental science specialist: bachelor's degree
  • Forensic science technician: bachelor's degree
  • Biological technician: bachelor's degree
  • Geoscientist: bachelor's degree
  • Chemist: bachelor's degree

A wider selection of science careers begins to open up as you advance further up the ladder of formal education. Here are some 2014 salary averages and 2012-2022 employment growth projections for science careers that require master's, doctoral or upper-division professional degrees:

  • Physicists: $117,300; 10.4 percent
  • Medical scientists: $89,340; 13.3 percent
  • Hydrologists: $75,530; 10.4 percent
  • Biochemists and biophysicists: $91,960; 18.6 percent
  • Anthropologists and archaeologists: $61,980; 19.4 percent

University teaching and professorship is a common a career path for graduates with science degrees also, providing as it does the opportunity to research and publish while working in an environment of like-minded intellects. The BLS reports a mean annual salary of $75,780 across all disciplines of postsecondary teaching in 2014.

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Conclusion

If you've got a knack for one of the math or science aspects of STEM — some organizations add arts & design into the mix and refer to it as STEAM — careers in multiple professional fields are out there waiting for qualified candidates.

Not only that, but it's been said that training for math and science careers may ultimately bring more benefits than you initially expect; developing an understanding of quantitative reasoning and the scientific method can have a positive effect on your life in ways that go beyond the job search.

If you've got a knack for one of the math or science aspects of STEM, careers in multiple professional fields are out there waiting for qualified candidates.

Sources

1. Texas A&M University, Best Colleges, U.S. News and World Report, accessed September 14, 2015, colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/texas-a-m-university-228723/overall-rankings
2. Masters of Science in Mathematics, Texas A&M University, accessed September 14, 2015, http://distance-ed.math.tamu.edu/
3. May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 14, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
4. Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 14, 2015, http://data.bls.gov/projections/occupationProj
5. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 14, 2015: Financial Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm; Operations Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm; Computer Programmers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm; Economists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm; Market Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm; Postsecondary Teachers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm; Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-science-and-protection-technicians.htm; Chemical Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/chemical-technicians.htm; Nuclear Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/nuclear-technicians.htm; Environmental Scientists and Specialists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm; Forensic Science Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm; Biological Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biological-technicians.htm; Geoscientists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geoscientists.htm; Chemists and Materials Scientists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/chemists-and-materials-scientists.htm; Physicists and Astronomers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/physicists-and-astronomers.htm; Medical Scientists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm; Hydrologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/hydrologists.htm; Biochemists and Biophysicists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biochemists-and-biophysicists.htm; Anthropologists and Archaeologists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm