What careers are open to a person with a degree in mathematics? If you’re like most people then you’ll probably answer this question by answering “math teacher”. With a bit more thought you may even think of other careers such as actuary, statistician, or even forecaster. Yet, the career paths for those who hold a degree in mathematics are many. While the ability to solve a partial differential equation or stochastic process may be of use in a few particular circumstances, the skills learned when studying mathematics can be applied to solving problems in an almost infinite array of careers.
Logical thinking is a core of mathematical thought. The student of mathematics learns and develops his or her skills in logical thinking in a number of ways chief among them is the writing of proofs. The writing of proofs provides the student with a structured and disciplined approach to taking the discrete parts of a problem and arriving at a solution in a logical manner.
This ability to think logically is a skill that is valuable and in fact necessary to solve problems and be successful in a wide range of careers including many not typically associated with holders of a degree in mathematics. Think about it. What skills does a lawyer need? Or even a business strategist? Of course a lawyer needs to know the law and pass the Bar Exam in they state(s) he or she chooses to practice in. A business strategist needs to know something about financial accounting, marketing, economics, and other related fields. However, to be successful in their jobs they also require the ability to effectively and clearly communicate how apparently unrelated pieces of evidence lead to and support a specific conclusion.
How do they do this? They do this by using logic. Granted, the reader may object that a degree in mathematics isn’t the only means by which one can learn to think logically. That is true. However, the purpose of this article is focused on the benefits in obtaining a degree in mathematics and to show that the views many have towards the limited career paths for math graduates is primarily self-imposed. More importantly, the skills learned by those who study mathematics are transferable to other realms of endeavor and will allow these students to succeed in numerous career paths, even those not primarily quantitative in nature.
Learning mathematics provides the basics necessary for almost any career one can conceive of pursuing. When looking to apply what one learns in a mathematics class it is important to realize that while you will be able to solve a particular equation the steps taken are more fundamental. You gain the ability to clearly structure the different parts of a problem and solve them in a logical manner. This skill is a fundamental factor for success in most undertakings whether you apply it in the realm of business, education, or even law.