Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply mathematical and statistical techniques to help solve problems.
What they do
Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply mathematical and statistical techniques to help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, healthcare, or other fields.
Mathematicians and statisticians typically do the following:
- Develop new mathematical rules, theories, and concepts in areas such as algebra and geometry
- Decide what data are needed to answer specific questions or problems
- Apply mathematical theories and techniques to solve practical problems in business, engineering, the sciences, and other fields
- Design surveys, experiments, or opinion polls to collect data
- Develop mathematical or statistical models to analyze data
- Interpret data and report conclusions drawn from their analyses
- Use data analysis to support and improve business decisions
Mathematicians and statisticians apply theories and techniques, such as mathematical or statistical modeling, to solve practical problems. Typically, they work with individuals in other occupations to solve these problems. For example, they may work with chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers to analyze the effectiveness of new drugs. Others may work with industrial designers to study the aerodynamic characteristics of new automobiles.
To work on these problems, mathematicians and statisticians must first collect data. Statisticians design surveys, questionnaires, experiments, and opinion polls to collect the data they need. Surveys may be mailed, conducted over the phone, collected online, or gathered through some other means.
Some surveys, such as the U.S. census, include data from nearly everyone. For most surveys and opinion polls, however, statisticians use a sampling method to collect data from some people in a particular group. Statisticians determine the type and size of the sample to be surveyed or polled.
After the data are collected, mathematicians and statisticians use specialized statistical software to analyze data. In their analyses, mathematicians and statisticians identify trends and relationships within the data. They also conduct tests to determine the data’s validity and to account for high survey nonresponse rates or sampling error. Some may help create new software to analyze data more accurately and efficiently.
Mathematicians and statisticians present the findings from their analyses and discuss the data’s limitations in order to prevent inaccurate conclusions from being drawn. They may present written reports, tables, charts, and graphs to other team members and to clients.
Mathematicians and statisticians work in many fields, such as education, marketing, psychology, sports, or any other field that requires the collection and analysis of data. In particular, government, healthcare, and research and development companies employ many statisticians.
Government. Mathematicians and statisticians working in government develop and analyze surveys that collect a variety of data, including unemployment rates, wages, and other estimates pertaining to jobs and workers. Others help to figure out the average level of pesticides in drinking water, the number of endangered species living in a particular area, or the number of people who have a certain disease.
Healthcare. Statisticians known as biostatisticians or biometricians work in pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, or hospitals. They may design studies to test whether drugs successfully treat diseases or medical conditions. They may also help identify the sources of outbreaks of illnesses in humans and animals.
Research and development. Mathematicians and statisticians design experiments for product testing and development. For instance, they may help design experiments to see how car engines perform when exposed to extreme weather conditions. Some may analyze consumer data to help develop marketing strategies and prices for consumer goods.
Colleges and universities. Mathematicians and statisticians working in a postsecondary education institution may study theoretical or abstract concepts in mathematics or statistics. They identify, research, and resolve unexplained issues in mathematics and are concerned primarily with exploring new mathematical or statistical theories to increase knowledge and understanding about the field.
However, the mathematician occupation is a relatively small one, and many people with a degree in mathematics or who develop mathematical theories and models may not be formally known as mathematicians. Instead, they work in related fields and professions. In the computer systems design and related services industries, for example, they may be known as computer programmers or systems analysts. In finance, they may be known as quantitative analysts. Other industries may refer to them as data scientists or data analysts.
Computer and information research scientists, physicists and astronomers, economists, actuaries, operations research analysts, engineers and many other occupations also use mathematics extensively.
Many people with a Ph.D. in mathematics, particularly theoretical mathematics, work as postsecondary teachers in education institutions. They usually have a mix of teaching and research responsibilities. Some may conduct individual research or collaborate with other professors or mathematicians. Collaborators may work together at the same institution or from different locations.
Mathematicians and statisticians typically work in offices. They also may work on teams with engineers, scientists, and other professionals.
How to become a Mathematician and/or Statistician
Mathematicians and statisticians typically need at least a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics. However, some positions are available to those with a bachelor’s degree.
In private industry, mathematicians typically need an advanced degree, either a master’s degree or a doctorate. For jobs with the federal government, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or significant coursework in mathematics.
Most colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Courses usually include calculus, differential equations, and linear and abstract algebra. Many colleges and universities advise or require mathematics students to take courses in a related field, such as computer science, engineering, physics, or statistics. Because mathematicians often work with data analysis software, computer programming courses may be particularly beneficial for students.
Many universities offer master’s and doctoral degrees in theoretical or applied mathematics. Many students who get a doctoral degree work as professors of mathematics in a college or university.
Statisticians typically need a master’s degree, but some entry-level positions may accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
Most statisticians have degrees in mathematics, economics, computer science, or another quantitative field. A degree in statistics typically includes courses in linear algebra, calculus, experimental design, survey methodology, probability, and statistical theory.
Many colleges and universities advise statistics students to take courses in a related field, such as computer science, engineering, or physics. These courses can help prepare students to work in a variety of industries. Coursework in engineering or physical science, for example, may be useful for mathematicians or statisticians working in manufacturing on quality or productivity improvement. A background in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for work testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products.
Because mathematicians and statisticians often work with data analysis software, computer programming courses may be particularly beneficial for students.
Students who are interested in becoming mathematicians or statisticians should take as many math courses as possible in high school.
The median annual wage for mathematicians was $105,030 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $58,100, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $162,060.
Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 35 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to result from more widespread use of statistical analysis to inform business, healthcare, and policy decisions. The amount of digitally stored data will increase over the next decade as more people and companies conduct business online and use social media, smartphones, and other mobile devices. As a result, businesses will increasingly need statisticians to analyze the large amount of information and data collected. Statistical analyses will help companies improve their business processes, design and develop new products, and advertise products to potential customers.
Many of the new jobs for statisticians are expected to be in research and development, consulting, and computer systems design and related services.
Employment of mathematicians is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Much of this growth is expected to be in research-based roles in academia, research and development, and consulting services.
Similar Job Titles
Mathematician: Agent-Based Modeler, Computational Scientist, Cryptographer, Cryptographic Vulnerability Analyst, Director of Quantitative Research, Emerging Solutions Executive, Image Scientist, Lead Simulation Modeling Engineer, Research Scientist, Scientist
Statistician: Demographer, Mathematical Statistician, Psychometric Consultant, Quantitative Methodologist, Research Scientist, Researcher, Statistical Analyst, Statistical Consultant, Statistical Reporting Analyst
Mathematician: Operations Research Analyst, Statistician, Biostatistician, Astronomer, Economist
Statistician: Mathematician, Operations Research Analyst, Biostatistician, Remote Sensing Scientist and Technologist, Economist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges
- American Mathematical Society
- American Physical Society
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Association for Women in Mathematics
- Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences
- International Association for Cryptologic Research
- Mathematical Association of America
- Mathematical Programming Society
- American Academy of Actuaries
- American Educational Research Association
- American Statistical Association
- Association for Institutional Research
- International Biometric Society
- National Council on Measurement in Education
- SAS Users Groups
- Society of Actuaries
Magazines and Publications
If you enjoy solving puzzles and have a good head for numbers, you might be interested in a career as a mathematician. These workers use equations to solve both academic and real-life problems. Theoretical mathematicians use equations to develop new rules, disprove existing mathematical theories, or create new ones. They may develop methods to solve problems emerging from science and engineering fields. They often work for research firms or teach math and conduct research at colleges and universities. Applied mathematicians address an almost endless variety of problems, from making aircraft more aerodynamic, to programming models for a video game, to designing and deciphering encryption systems for the military and financial industries. Applied mathematicians work in industry and government, dealing with robotics, pharmaceuticals, space exploration, and more! Despite the differences between applied and theoretical mathematics, these areas often overlap. Many mathematicians, particularly those in government or private industry, use both applied and theoretical knowledge in their job duties. Mathematicians, however, are a relatively small occupation. Most people with a degree in mathematics or who develop mathematical theories and models work in related fields and professions, such as information technology. Some become math teachers in a middle school or high school. This typically requires a math degree and a teaching credential. Government jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in math. For private industry jobs, a master's degree or Ph.D. is usually expected, and in academia, a Ph.D. is needed. So, is this challenging career in a fast-growing field the right choice for you? You do the math.
Whether they’re revolutionizing baseball, winning big on Wall Street, or predicting healthcare trends, statisticians know how to turn data into useful information and tools. Statisticians design surveys and experiments to collect data and create models and algorithms that turn numbers into understandable concepts, identifiable trends and patterns, or conclusions. Startups looking to expand quickly, and well-established businesses alike need the help of statisticians to make decisions. Though they work in many fields, there are some common statistician specializations: Government statisticians monitor wages, the unemployment rate, and other important socioeconomic indicators. They analyze data and shed light on trends in the economy, the environment, pollution, and many other national and global arenas. Biostatisticians predominantly work in the healthcare industry. They may design drug studies or study how diseases spread. Clinical data managers collect data from medical research projects, analyze it for trends, and ensure that it’s kept secure and reported accurately. Corporate research and development also employs many statisticians. They may design experiments and analyze experimental data for product testing or to help inform marketing strategies for consumer goods. Most statisticians need at least a master’s degree in statistics, math, or a related field, although some entry-level jobs are available for those with a bachelor’s degree.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org