Is becoming a mathematician right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do mathematicians do?
Career Satisfaction
Are mathematicians happy with their careers?
What are mathematicians like?

Still unsure if becoming a mathematician is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a mathematician or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become a Mathematician

To become a mathematician, you typically need to follow a path that involves several key steps. Here is a general outline of the process:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: Start by earning a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics or a closely related field. The coursework typically includes foundational mathematics courses such as calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, and mathematical proofs. It is beneficial to maintain a high GPA and engage in extracurricular activities related to mathematics, such as participating in math competitions or research projects.
  • Pursue Advanced Studies: After completing a bachelor's degree, consider pursuing an advanced degree such as a Master's or Ph.D. in Mathematics. Advanced degrees provide an opportunity to specialize in a particular area of mathematics and engage in advanced research. During your graduate studies, you will take advanced courses, conduct research under the guidance of faculty members, and write a thesis or dissertation.
  • Engage in Research: Actively engage in mathematical research during your graduate studies. This involves working closely with faculty members, attending research seminars, and presenting your own research findings at conferences or workshops. Research experience is crucial for developing your problem-solving skills and building a strong mathematical foundation.
  • Publish and Present Research: Aim to publish your research findings in reputable mathematical journals and present your work at conferences and seminars. This helps establish your credibility and contributes to the mathematical community.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Build a network of professional connections by attending mathematical conferences, workshops, and seminars. Collaborate with other mathematicians and researchers to gain exposure to different perspectives and areas of expertise.
  • Teaching Experience: Gain teaching experience by serving as a teaching assistant or instructor for undergraduate mathematics courses. Teaching experience enhances your communication skills and demonstrates your ability to convey complex mathematical concepts to students.
  • Postdoctoral Research (Optional): After completing your Ph.D., you may consider pursuing postdoctoral research positions. These positions allow you to continue your research, collaborate with established mathematicians, and further develop your expertise.
  • Job Search: Begin your job search by exploring opportunities in academia, research institutions, industry, or government agencies. Mathematics departments in universities and colleges often hire mathematicians for faculty positions. Other industries such as technology, finance, and consulting also have demand for mathematicians in various roles.
  • Continued Professional Development: As a mathematician, continuous learning and professional development are essential. Stay updated with advancements in your field, attend conferences, participate in workshops, and continue publishing research to stay at the forefront of mathematical knowledge.

Helpful Resources
There are several helpful resources available for mathematicians. Here are some notable ones:

  • American Mathematical Society (AMS): The AMS is one of the largest professional organizations dedicated to mathematics. They provide resources such as journals, conferences, grants, and career services.
  • Mathematical Association of America (MAA): The MAA focuses on mathematics education and research. They offer publications, conferences, grants, and resources for teaching mathematics.
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM): SIAM is an international organization dedicated to applied mathematics and computational science. They provide journals, conferences, career resources, and advocacy for applied mathematicians.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): The NSF is a federal agency that supports scientific research, including mathematics. They offer funding opportunities, grants, and fellowships for mathematicians.
  • Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI): Located in Berkeley, California, MSRI is a leading institution for mathematical research. They organize workshops, conferences, and research programs.
  • Online Mathematical Communities: There are several online communities where mathematicians can connect, collaborate, and share knowledge. MathOverflow is a platform for asking and answering research-level mathematics questions. Math.SE is a general math Q&A platform. The Polymath Project is a collaborative research effort in mathematics.
  • ArXiv: ArXiv is an open-access repository for preprints in various scientific disciplines, including mathematics. It allows mathematicians to share their research findings before formal publication and provides a platform for collaboration and discussion.
  • Online Math Journals: There are several reputable online math journals that publish cutting-edge research. Some notable examples include the Annals of Mathematics, Journal of the American Mathematical Society, and Inventiones Mathematicae. These journals often provide free access to some or all of their content.