Maths graduates can follow a huge variety of career routes, which can be both reassuring and confusing! Rest assured, you are highly employable, but how do you make sense of the multitude of options that you could choose? If it feels difficult to know where to start, we are here to help.
Think of stepping stones rather than a fixed career ladder
Might you be hesitating in choosing what to apply for because of a belief that your first job will define your career in the long term?
If you can, resist this thinking. Instead, look at a couple of jobs and consider:
- What would I be able to learn in this role or company, for now?
- Would this role or company give me valuable experience, stretch me, enable me to make contacts?
- Would I enjoy gaining the opportunity to develop skills and networks through this role or company?
If the answers feel positive, then a job might be good first step.
Start by Identifying your skills
Get a clear understanding of your own skills, both from your Maths degree and those you have developed outside your degree. Once you have identified your skills – and also what you would like to improve – think about how much you would like to use them in a job.
What skills do employers value in Maths graduates?
- their intellectual ability, rigour, logical thinking and abstract reasoning
- their familiarity with numerical and symbolic thinking,
- and the analytic approach to problem-solving that is their hallmark.
These skills, when developed alongside more generic skills (such as communication and team-working skills) make mathematics, statistics and operational research graduates highly employable.*
Job sectors for Maths Graduates
While Maths can lead to specific sectors, consider what best suits you. If you are passionate about Maths and would love to continue using and developing your mathematical skills, then that’s great: mathematicians become…cryptographers, researchers, data analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, investment bankers, customer insight specialists, statisticians, business analysts, actuarial analysts, teachers…
However, for 82% of jobs, graduate employers did not specify degree discipline (ISE Annual Survey 2018).
Job adverts commonly ask for applicants with expertise in problem-solving, which is great for Maths graduates. As well as in numerical, technical and scientific disciplines, mathematicians are found in: Law, media, creative industries, public and private sectors, charities, multinationals, retail, NHS and more.
Graduate consultancy or management schemes all value Maths graduates. Consider the management training scheme run by the NHS, for example: http://www.nhsgraduates.co.uk/
Maths graduates work in ALL sectors
In brief, Maths graduates are at the very centre of financial services sector and the ICT, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. They also work in the private and public sectors applying their skills to areas such as digital security, risk management, large scale decision making and the analysis of data. The more traditional sectors of teaching and academic research remain vitally important too.*
Can I get help with my job search?
Definitely! We recommend booking a guidance interview via Surrey Pathfinder with one of our Careers Advisers, which will give you a chance to have an open exploration of your own ideas, as well as offering guidance in how to proceed.
Further useful links
- MathsCareers has lots of articles demonstrating the breadth of careers available to maths graduates, including profiles of a variety of professionals.
- Professional bodies and associations are also useful for career advice and especially for those seeking to specialise in a particular area or who want to undertake research
- Institute of Mathematics and its Applications;
- The London Mathematical Society;
- The Royal Statistical Society;
- The Operational Research Society;
- The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics;
- Department for Education (Get into Teaching)
- Prospects website for Mathematicians
- This article on Target Jobs shows more possible routes to pursue
- *This is taken from the QAA’s quality assurance standard that all Maths degrees need to adhere to
- ** QAA benchmark
Thanks very much to Janie Angell, careers adviser for Maths for writing this blog.