Why study mathematics? A closer look at where a degree in numbers could take you



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As LJMU climbs to fifth place in The Guardian university league table for mathematics, we take a look at some of the potential career options available to maths graduates.

When it comes to the subject of mathematics, you may be curious as to what your hard work could all add up to after graduation. As with any subject, it’s important to explore your options and know exactly where your skills can take you, career wise. A degree in this subject is undoubtedly one of the more challenging courses an undergraduate can opt for. The entry requirements are often tough, as are the assignments. The good news is that successful students are able to reap the rewards when it comes to getting a job after graduating, with maths graduates currently being amongst the most employable in the UK. You’re also likely to enjoy a high starting salary, proof that hard work truly does pay off.

To give you an idea of life beyond university, we’ve put together a list of career avenues a maths degree could lead you to. Although you may not have realised it, this is a qualification that can take you to some exciting and unexpected places.

Chartered accountant

Accountancy is a profession closely associated with the art of mathematics. This is because, on a daily basis, chartered accountants are required to work with numbers, figures and percentages. Whether this be through financial reporting, taxation tasks, auditing, forensic accounting, corporate finance, or business recovery and insolvency – the responsibilities and duties involving numbers are endless. You also have a vast choice when it comes to work settings, including public practice firms, industry and commerce, and not-for-profit and public sectors. Your main duties will include managing financial systems and budgets, where your mathematical abilities will really come into play – as well as providing financial advice to various clients. 

Salary

  • Accountancy starting salaries vary depending on the location, sector, size and type of firm. Graduates entering the job can anticipate salaries of up to £25,000.
  • The average earning potential (salary and bonus) of chartered accountants with two to four post-qualification years of experience is around £56,000.

Secondary school teacher

A career in teaching is a chance to engage young people with the subject you truly love, as well as preparing them for the future. Whilst the idea of moving back into education as soon as you leave may seem like a daunting one, the rewards of the job more than compensate. As a secondary school teacher you’ll be expected to teach, observe, and provide close guidance to pupils aged 11 to 18 when it comes to their maths studies. Teaching the national curriculum, you’ll need strong organisational skills to come up with engaging lesson plans, as well as the ability to keep up to date with developments in your subject area. In order to qualify you’ll also need to obtain your PGCE, as well as an undergraduate degree. The main quality needed for a teaching career in maths, however, is a true passion for the subject. This is what will ultimately engage, excite and motivate your students to do their very best, and in turn give you immense job satisfaction.

Salary

  • Newly qualified teachers can expect to start on main pay range, which rises incrementally from around £23,700 to £35,000

Software engineer

As a software engineer you'll be working to create, maintain, check, and improve systems to meet particular needs, often under the guidance of a systems architect. Day to day your mathematical brain will come in handy as you’ll be testing software and hardware systems, with the aim of diagnosing and resolving complex system faults. From a broad and practical point of view, maths is extremely similar to software engineering - as maths problems and software problems are solved in very similar ways. Both involve analysing figures an understanding complex formulas – so strong mathematical skills in this role is a must. The landscape of software engineering is one that’s forever evolving and advancing, due to new technological developments, so being a software engineer is a great way to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest technologies, as you’ll often be working with new systems and products. Some employers may also prefer for you to have additional qualifications for this role, such as in computer science. It’s also worth noting that women are vastly underrepresented in this area of the IT industry, hence the sector is currently on a drive to recruit talented, and degree educated females in particular. 

Salary

  • Typical graduate software engineer salaries start from £18,000 a year.
  • The average annual salary for a software engineer is between £25,000 and £50,000.
  • At senior or management level, software engineers can earn £45,000 to £70,000 or more. 

Game designer

For those who possess not only a mathematical prowess, but a creative flair too – becoming a game designer could be the perfect career choice. But where does the maths come into it? Well, without maths, programmers would not be able to make the objects in a game carry out even the simplest of movements. A combination of game code, variables, vectors, and much more, is what instructs our favourite animated characters to run slow or fast, stop, jump or fly. So when you think about it, it’s not hard to see why a game without programming and maths would just be a collection of useless art. Day to day as a game designer you’ll use code to design complex systems that are easily maintainable, expandable and comfortable to use – as well as injecting a lot of fun into the user experience along the way. In addition to maths, some employers may also want a degree in computer science too.

Salary

  • Salaries for entry-level positions, such as a junior/intern, typically range from £17,000 to £18,000. Salaries for quality assurance (QA) tester roles, another common way into games design, are approximately £18,000 to £22,000.
  • The average salary for a game designer is £30,000, although you can earn up to £45,000. As a senior game designer you could earn up to £65,000.

Meteorologist

Probably the most unexpected career avenue of them all – who knew mathematical skills were so essential to predicting the weather? As a meteorologist, you’ll be studying the weather and outdoor conditions, using information obtained from the land, sea, and skies. In order to predict weather conditions, you’ll need to use computerised and mathematical equipment to establish long and short-range forecasts. Technologies used in meteorology rely heavily on mathematical principles, as well as physics, to make sense of weather patterns.  Examples include weather radar, chart usage and interpretation and numerical weather prediction – all of which you’ll be expected to do day to day in this role. Whilst some employers may also require additional qualifications, such as a degree in science, you’ll undoubtedly need strong mathematical proficiencies, as well as a love of the outdoors. There are a range of sectors that employ meteorologists, including health services, the aviation industry, the armed forces, and the media – to list but a few. 

Salary

  • Salaries for trainee meteorologists typically start at around £20,000 and could rise to £23,000 once you've completed your training.
  • Experienced meteorologists can expect a salary in the range of £25,000 to £35,000.
  • Senior positions normally attract salaries of £38,000 to £60,000.

Surprised at where a maths degree could lead you? Want to learn more about our Mathematics department? Take a look at our mathematics courses today. Our current NSS (National Student Survey) score is at an impressive 95%, reflecting the success of our department and our high student satisfaction rate. It could be time to take your first step on your path to career success with us… 



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