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.