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PostPosted: Thu, 29 Nov 2007 23:04:55 UTC 
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Hey,

So yeah... I'm in first year math right now at UWaterloo, and I'm trying to decide what to major in. I LOVE math and my plan was to do a double degree in Pure Math/Applied Math, because both really interest me TONS and I LOVE learning math and doing math. But my parents are always like "you should do actuary because the job market is so big and you make ridiculous amounts of cash", but I dunno... I mean it just doesn't seem as interesting as PMath/AMath. Like, PMath/AMath I'm actually looking forward to most of the classes (all of the classes, actually :D Especially Topology, Real Analysis, Differential Geometry, Quantum Theory, Fluid Mechanics, etc etc etc...). But Actuary seems like, well, Accounting with math. -.- The courses don't seem interesting at all.

BUT then my brother made an interesting comment "just because the courses are interesting doesn't mean the jobs are interesting". Then that got me thinking, well... what jobs are there for people with degrees in PMath/AMath?

So that's what I'm wondering... how do the jobs associated with degrees in PMath/AMath compare to the job of an Actuary? What jobs are even available to someone with PMath/AMath degrees, either undergraduate or graduate? My parents are all like "people in math only teach" but there's gotta be more to it than that, what other jobs are available?

Thanks. :D


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PostPosted: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 01:18:48 UTC 
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future_phd wrote:
BUT then my brother made an interesting comment "just because the courses are interesting doesn't mean the jobs are interesting". Then that got me thinking, well... what jobs are there for people with degrees in PMath/AMath?

Steady job as cashier at Tim Horton's :idea:

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PostPosted: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 01:21:54 UTC 
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There are standing 6 figure salary job offers out for math majors from Google and Yahoo if you meet their standards, not to mention countless other jobs, especially in research. You can tell your parents that and that'll probably get them to see some of the light. Other than that, yes actuaries are jobs as well, plus analysts, those who study mathematical biology and physics, all sorts of things. Even some book authors.

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PostPosted: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 07:43:10 UTC 
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I can't add anything to the advice my dad gave me a long time ago: "Pick a job you like- you'll spend a third of your life working...."

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PostPosted: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 07:07:22 UTC 
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Speaking from the USA, most jobs for mathematicians in industry are not jobs in doing mathematics. Many math majors, physics majors, electrical engineers, etc end up as programmers and not programmers of mathematical algorithms. This is not a bad life if you enjoy programming computers. (I confess that I do.) If you want a job doing pure mathematics, your opportunities lie mostly in teaching, where you will not make a six figure salary. There are jobs in applied mathematics but many jobs that are nominally non-programming math jobs are actually semi-clerical jobs that involve entering things in spreadsheets and making powerpoint slides etc.

Mathematics and other technology is applied in industry, but if you want to see the average situation then read the Dilbert comic strip. People in technology want to gather information and solve problems. In business, it takes authority to gather information and it takes authority to implement a solution. Most organizations are managed by business majors not technology majors, so they hesitate to grant technical employees this kind of authority. In fairness to those organizations, the technical staff will not be able to solve many real world problems with mathematics. This is partly due to the limitations of current mathematical knowledge and partly due to limitations of the technical staff. (It takes an outstanding applied mathematician to actualy apply mathematics - as opposed to writing articles for an applied mathematics journal (which also requires skill, but a different one).

As a matter of correct statistical sampling, you should also ask your question in a forum that is frequented by acutaries. I have the feeling we don't have many of them here.


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PostPosted: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 07:07:42 UTC 
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Speaking from the USA, most jobs for mathematicians in industry are not jobs in doing mathematics. Many math majors, physics majors, electrical engineers, etc end up as programmers and not programmers of mathematical algorithms. This is not a bad life if you enjoy programming computers. (I confess that I do.) If you want a job doing pure mathematics, your opportunities lie mostly in teaching, where you will not make a six figure salary. There are jobs in applied mathematics but many jobs that are nominally non-programming math jobs are actually semi-clerical jobs that involve entering things in spreadsheets and making powerpoint slides etc.

Mathematics and other technology is applied in industry, but if you want to see the average situation then read the Dilbert comic strip. People in technology want to gather information and solve problems. In business, it takes authority to gather information and it takes authority to implement a solution. Most organizations are managed by business majors not technology majors, so they hesitate to grant technical employees this kind of authority. In fairness to those organizations, the technical staff will not be able to solve many real world problems with mathematics. This is partly due to the limitations of current mathematical knowledge and partly due to limitations of the technical staff. (It takes an outstanding applied mathematician to actualy apply mathematics - as opposed to writing articles for an applied mathematics journal (which also requires skill, but a different one)).

As a matter of correct statistical sampling, you should also ask your question in a forum that is frequented by acutaries. I have the feeling we don't have many of them here.


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PostPosted: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 06:29:57 UTC 
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OK thanks for the help everyone! :D


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PostPosted: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 00:49:26 UTC 
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This one kind of died off but just thought I would add that you don't need to major in actuarial in order to become an actuary. If you look at the literature from the various professional actuarial societies you'll note that they have all backgrounds (biology, philosophy, history, math, etc) in the actuarial discipline. One of the great things about this is that actuarial is a performance based career -- if you can complete the actuarial exams (regardless of your preparation) then you can be licensed to become an actuary.

So you can basically have it both ways. You can major in Pure, lets say, and complete some of the preparatory actuarial courses as electives, and still write the professional exams. Hell, you could major in art history, do an undergrad and still become an actuary. They don't care as long as you can perform.


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PostPosted: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 21:34:13 UTC 
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Yeah, I've be doing a lot of research on actuarial sciences, and I think hacienda days may have the right idea here. I mean, you take a look at actuary salaries and they're pretty solid. There's many routes to it, though you do need to ace those exams and not everyone who takes them does... but you seem pretty on top of anything related to numbers. Plus I've been reading some interesting stuff about nontraditional applications of actuarial sciences, so that might be worth considering as well.


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