So you're thinking about majoring in mathematics...

Wonderful!  Now, it's time to evaluate what you like about mathematics and why you are considering it as a major.  Contrary to popular belief, there are MANY things you can do with a major in mathematics, besides being a teacher or an accountant!  On this page I want to give you some information about the things you can do with a mathematics degree.
Math Cartoon
Mathematics majors develop skills in problem solving, data analysis and critical thinking.  These are skills that can take you far in basically any profession.  Some of the many exciting things you can do with a mathematics degree included:

  1. Research Mathematician: Yes, sometimes it is good to state the obvious! But, what you may not realize is that exciting applied and even theoretical mathematics research takes place in both academia (at colleges) and in industry.  Companies and organizations that commonly employ mathematicians include Google, Microsoft, IBM, Merck, Novartis, Boeing, General Motors, Exxon Mobile, the Department of Defense and NASA.  This list is not nearly exhaustive, but meant to give you an idea that mathematical research can be conducted in all types of settings!
    1. Biomathematician:  Biomathematics is an up-and-coming field in which mathematicians utilize their quantitative skills to better understand biological phenomenon.  Biomathematicians work on problems as diverse as predicting patient response to a drug, developing better techniques to analyze medical images and determining optimal ways to utilize yet preserve natural resources. 
    2. Atmospheric Scientist/Climate Modeler: Climate modelers use mathematical methods to simulate processes occuring on land, in the ocens and in the atmosphere.  These models can be used to predict the weekly forecast, predict the path of hurricanes and to study the effects of increased carbon dioxide on global temperature. 
    3. Mathematical physicist: Mathematicians have been lending their skills to the field of physics for hundred of years.  Mathematical physicists may find themselves exploring alternative energy sources, working on problems related to the origin of the universe and improving upon GPS technology.

  2. Educator: When I was in high school, I basically thought the only things mathematicians could do is teach!  This is far from the truth, although it is still a great career path for mathematics majors.  Teaching opportunities exist in grades K-12, and at the collegiate level for those who have earned a degree beyond the bachelors.  Middle schools and high schools throughout the US are consistently in need of qualified individuals to teach their mathematics courses.

  3. Actuary: Actuaries use mathematics (particularly probability and statistics) to analyze and manage risk.  An actuary who works for an insurance company may try to predict the likelihood a new driver will cause a car accident, and develop a model to determine the annual rate of insurance for a new driver.  Outside of the insurance industry, actuaries may development investment tools to help their company financially compete with similar companies. 

  4. Operations Researcher: An operations researcher use mathematical models and analysis to find optimal solutions to complex problems.  Problems as diverse as optimizing the nations power grid, the optimal transport of materials through a network and developing financial portfolios that simultaneously work to minimize risk while maximing profit are commonly tackled by operations researchers.

  5. Security: An issue of pressing importance is how both individuals, companies and the government can protect their valuable information from those who wish to steal it.  From hackers attempting to steal personal identities to those trying to gain key information about military strategy, it is incredibly important that we have intelligent ways to protect private data.  Crypotgraphy is a sub-field of mathematics that works on making and breaking codes.  Cryptographers are employed by both the government for issues of national security, and by private companies.
The list I put together here is not nearly exhaustive, but is meant to give you a flavor of careers in which you can utilize mathematics.  Other people choose to major in mathematics and enter careers  (such as medicine, business or law) that are less dependent on mathematics.  This is because the key skills learned by mathematics major are desirable traits in any problem-solving oriented field.

The internet is chock-full of good resources for potential math majors.  Dr. Wiebke Diestelkamp at the University of Dayton has put together a wonderful collection of resources for potential and current mathematics majors that can be accessed here