Study Mathematics and Statistics

How would you like a rewarding career in accountancy, the actuarial profession, banking, investment, engineering, the financial sector, the defence industry, computing, management, weather forecasting, government departments, agricultural research, operational research, cryptography, teaching, or pharmaceutical development?

Study Mathematics and Statistics

Well, these are just a few of the careers that a mathematics and statistics degree can open up to you. Increasingly, employers are looking for graduates with strong skills in reasoning and problem solving - just the skills that are developed in a mathematics and statistics degree.

Let us look at a few examples. The computing industry employs mathematics graduates; indeed, many university computing courses are taught by mathematicians. Mathematics is used to create the complex programming at the heart of all computing. Also cryptography, a form of pure mathematics, is deployed to encode the millions of transactions made hourly via the Internet and when we use debit or credit cards. Mathematics and Computer Science is a popular degree choice, and four-year degrees with a placement in industry are also available. The latter give graduates plenty of relevant experience to increase their employability.

Mathematics & Finance

Mathematics is also important in the finance sector. Sophisticated mathematical tools - such as the theory of chaos and time series forecasting - are used to map trends on the world futures markets. Actuarial Science, a branch of statistics, concerns itself with the evaluation and management of financial risks, particularly those associated with insurance companies and pension funds. Actuaries are obviously employed by insurance companies, but they are also found in consultancy practices, government departments, stock exchanges, industry and commerce and universities. Actuaries are commonly employed in high-level management positions to advise on policy and strategies.

Mathematics also forms an important part of accounting, and many UK institutions offer Mathematics and Accounting as a degree option. Many accountancy companies prefer graduates to have a joint degree with mathematics rather than just a straight accountancy qualification. Other degree options include Financial Mathematics and Business Mathematics.

Mathematics & Medicine

Medical statistics is an area of special interest, and is of vital importance in the development of new drugs where trials to discover cures and side effects demand careful statistical analysis. The use of statistics can speed up the release of a new drug and lessen the need for animal experiments. Sophisticated statistical techniques are also used in the battle against 'doping in sport', and the International Olympic Committee has employed UK statisticians in this fight. Of related interest is the use of statistics in horticultural research. Relevant degrees here are Mathematics and Statistics, and taught MSc programmes in Statistics.

Mathematics & Design

In areas of design, mathematics is obviously useful in the calculation of stresses and loads within structures, but what about modelling the workings of a microwave oven? In the latter case, a non-linear heat equation can be used to model the heating before expensive prototypes are built. Mathematics also forms the basis of physics, so a mathematician might also be employed in space research, an example being in the calculation of trajectories for space probes. The defence industry also regularly employs mathematicians, and many UK graduates find their way into the Defence Evaluation and Assessment Agency (DERA).

Finally, we should mention teaching as a career. Mathematics is recognised as a key core subject, fundamental in any education system. The normal recognised way into teaching (either at school or at higher/further education level) is via a degree. A normal degree in the United Kingdom takes three years to complete; to go into teaching requires a further year's study on a Postgraduate Certificate of Education course (or similar), before a student qualifies as a teacher.

The United Kingdom and other countries are facing a severe shortage of mathematics teachers, so employment prospects in this area are excellent. Having a teaching qualification does not automatically mean that you have to become a teacher - many other employers hire qualified teachers for their heightened presentational skills. Some students prefer to carry on with their studies and enrol on taught MSc, research MSc/MPhil or Doctorate programmes.

Looking to the Future

There are good opportunities for further study in mathematics and statistics, and there can be grants available to cover maintenance and tuition costs. Higher degrees can enable students to become college or university lecturers, or to go into the careers listed above. Hopefully this will have given you an insight into the range of careers available to the graduate with a mathematics-based degree, but obviously there are many other careers such a graduate could do.

It is important to remember that mathematics graduates are generally highly respected and valued by potential employers, and this is worth considering while deciding which degree to do.

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