November 21, 2016
What is a Math Major and is it Right for Me?
Do you love working with numbers? Do you love the fact that numbers in themselves are a whole other language? Want to spend your day problem-solving and working with others? If so, being a math major might be perfect for you.
Many people are intimidated by the thought of majoring in math, or they have misconceptions about what math majors actually do. Here’s what the life of a math major is really like, so you can decide if it’s right for you.
What is a math major?
Becoming a math major is about more than just being good with numbers; it requires a big time commitment that includes going to class, meeting with study groups and teaching assistants (TAs) and solving problem sets. If you’re willing to take the time to be successful in the major, it can definitely be the right track for you.
Additionally, the term “math” is broad, which means that math majors often tackle a number of different topics within that concept. Potential classes include algebra, calculus, trigonometry, geometry, computational mathematics, statistics, number theory and discrete math. Thus, even if you consider yourself a “good” math student in school, you’ll want to be sure you can do well in any math course, not just in a particular subject area like calculus.
Furthermore, many math majors often concentrate in a particular math subject or even major or minor in that area. It’s not uncommon to meet people who double major in math and computer science or math and statistics.
It’s also important to note that often people in more quantitative fields decide to pursue graduate degrees (a Masters, PhD or specialized certification program), so that will also have to factor into your decision as well.
Is it right for me?
Here are several key questions to ask before pursuing a math major in college:
- Am I willing to put in extra time going to study groups or TA (teaching assistant) sessions to work on my problem sets?
- Do I like problem-solving, especially when the answer doesn’t come easily to me at first? Am I willing to work on a particular problem as long as it takes, no matter how hard it is?
- Am I willing to ask for help from a professor or TA if I need it?
- Do I like working on different types of math, including calculus, algebra, statistics, geometry and computational mathematics?
- Would I be open to double-majoring, minoring or focusing on a particular area of math, like statistics, accounting or computer science?
- Am I interested in pursuing a graduate degree to supplementing my undergraduate one if my career called for it?
What can I do with a math degree?
Very few people with math degrees go on to be “mathematicians” per se, but the great thing about this degree is that if you want to work in a quantitative field after you graduate from college, a math major gives you many diverse options.
Math majors have gone on to a number of interesting positions, including:
- investment banker
- financial/business analyst
- information technology analyst
- …and more
What do people who majored in math earn?
Great news: Majoring in math and pursuing a quantitative career involving numbers and research can give you a great ROI (return on investment) after graduation. For example, actuaries make a median salary of $70,000, and operations research analyst managers have a median salary of $146,000.