Career Exploration Part 6: Mathematics

What is Math?

Whether you agree with the theory that mathematics exists for humans to discover or that it is a man-made tool, numeric systems designed to measure the world around us serve as the foundation for scientific and technological advancement. Math is typically divided into specific subjects, such as:

  • Arithmetic, which covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of real, positive numbers.
  • Algebra, which incorporates unknown variables into arithmetic equations.
  • Geometry, which studies the measurements and properties of shapes.
  • Trigonometry, which focuses on relationships found in triangles.
  • Calculus, which calculates rates of change and infinites.

Science, technology, engineering and arts careers often rely upon at least one of these math specializations, so jobs with a math focus are often talked about under the other STEAM categories. You may be hard-pressed to think up an interesting math career other than a math teacher or professor. Take a look at our list below for some math careers you may not have considered!

 

Exciting Math Careers to Explore:

Cryptographer

Not to be confused with a cartographer, which we talked about in Part 2 of our STEAM career series!

Cryptographers combine cryptography, the science of designing algorithms for secret communication, and cryptanalysis, the study of breaking those designs. Cryptographers often work for government agencies or private institutions that require high levels of security. They identify and address weaknesses in security systems, develop and test mathematical models and new cryptography theories, decode cryptic messages and protect wireless networks from illegal access. Even though math isn’t always associated with creativity, most great cryptographers have an artistic and enterprising personality, meaning they are strong in areas such as creative thinking, articulation, innovation, assertion and optimism.

Perhaps one of the best-known cryptographers in history was Alan Turing, whose work in breaking the German Enigma code during World War II saved countless lives. The 2014 film The Imitation Game reenacts Turing’s creation of the Turing Machine, a computing device that broke the seemingly-unbreakable Nazi encryption as well as served as an important step toward modern computers. (The film is rated PG-13 as it also portrays Turing’s life as a mathematical genius with severe difficulty in social situations, among social issues in England at the time, so we recommend watching it before sharing it with students!)

Those who are interested in a career in Cryptography should consider a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, mathematics or similar, as well as a master’s degree in a complementary field. The EC-Council also offers a useful certificate program for aspiring cryptographers: EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES).

Energy Analyst/Auditor

Energy analysts or auditors typically work with engineering firms to increase the energy efficiency of buildings. They analyze energy trend data as well as perform energy audits and identify conservation opportunities. Energy auditors have a very hands-on job that requires travel to construction sites to perform various tests, such as thermal infrared tests to identify heat accumulation, air leaks and air pressure. Energy analysts focus on analyzing the data returned to them to communicate trends, costs and recommendations. Many energy analyst positions combine analysis and auditing into a single position. Energy analyst or auditor positions are perfect for people with conventional or enterprising personalities who are strong in logic, efficiency, organization, ambition and enthusiasm.

It is recommended that aspiring energy analysts or auditors earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in building science, building construction technology or similar, as well as earn a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification. Careers in energy analysis are growing rapidly, especially in the United States and Canada, as demand for energy efficiency increases. It’s an excellent field to look into for hands-on, applied math!

Fraud Analyst

Fraud analysts (also known as fraud investigators or fraud examiners) monitor financial accounts for red flags and analyze trends and patterns for fraudulent and normal activity. Whenever a suspicious activity is identified, such as an unusually expensive purchase or a high quantity of transfers to an unlikely partner, fraud analysts gather information about the transaction, contact all involved parties and keep a confidential record for use in catching and convicting criminals. Fraud analysts also maintain models that can help identify fraud patterns, criminal rings and holes in security systems. They tend to be enterprising and investigative people who are adventurous, ambitious, persuasive, and inquisitive.

A bachelor’s degree in finance, business, mathematics or criminal justice is usually required to become a fraud analyst. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) also offers a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) membership that is beneficial for those in the industry to earn.

Meteorologist

Meteorologists do much more than stand in front of a green screen to talk about the seven-day forecast! Meteorology is a science that makes heavy use of math to understand Earth’s atmosphere, predict future climate trends and understand how humans affect the environment. Meteorologists are often investigative and enterprising individuals who are curious, analytical, methodical and adventurous.

There are many specializations of meteorology, including:

  • Climatologist: Analyze historical and current weather data to predict future trends.
  • Forensic Meteorologist: Investigate insurance claims related to weather and provide information for a court of law.
  • Broadcast Meteorologist: Interpret and report weather data for TV and radio.
  • Synoptic Meteorologist: Develop instruments and tools with computers and mathematical methods to forecast weather more effectively.
  • Environmental Meteorologist: Study and report on ways to reduce air pollution and otherwise improve the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Research Meteorologist: Conduct research projects for government or military agencies, NASA, the National Weather Service or similar organizations.

Depending on the type of meteorology, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in meteorology or atmospheric science. Higher-level positions will require a master’s degree, while research positions require a Ph.D. At any point in your education, participating in an internship will offer a valuable experience that employers are looking for.

Geodesist

While cartographers, as we discussed in Part 2 of our STEAM career series, create visual representations of an environment, geodesists are interested in how things that are invisible to us humans alter Earth’s appearance. They gather and analyze data on three properties of the Earth: its geometric shape, its orientation in space and its gravity field. With the help of satellite technology, remote sensing and powerful telescopes, they can measure distances within 1mm to track changes such as the ocean’s gradual rise (about 1.7mm per year). Gathering this data is a hands-on experience requiring travel. If analyzing large-scale actors on our planet like gravity, tectonic plates and the Earth’s rotation interests you, you may do well as a geodesist!

Those who are interested in becoming a geodesist will need at least a bachelor’s degree in geodesy, or mathematics, physics, earth science or similar where a more specific degree is unavailable. A master’s degree will be required for any government jobs, and those who want to continue to advance their careers should consider earning a Ph.D.

 

Expand Your Students’ Love for Math

Math is one of the most dreaded topics in school. Many students are told by adults or have come to believe that they simply aren’t good at math, resulting in an immediate resistance whenever the subject is mentioned. However, math class doesn’t have to be a series of boring lectures that students must struggle to understand. Creating an engaging, hands-on math experience with solid connections to the real world is vital to help learners discover the value of mathematics and gain the confidence they need to dive in!

Creating a hands-on, scaffolded and engaging program that meets administrative requirements and connects kids to the real world can become a daunting task. But luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch! PCS Edventures provides a variety of all-in-one curriculum kits that take the grind out of building an effective STEM or STEAM program.

To make math resonate with your elementary to middle school learners, check out the Ready, Set, Code!: Programming with Drones Enrichment Program. It’s one thing to learn to code, but it’s a whole different world when drones are involved! With this program, students are introduced to coding from the ground-up with the help of a mini-drone to physically demonstrate the effects of their coded commands and sequences.

In Ready, Set, Code! Programming with Drones, students take to the skies and learn computer science skills with drag-and-drop drone programming! Utilizing the latest and easiest-to-fly mini drones, this program follows step-by-step web-based instructions as students work through the basics of programming, culminating in exciting STEAM challenges that test skills in coding and collaboration.

 


To explore more math programs fit for any learning age, click the images below!

Explore the STEAM Series

Designed to help you start those conversations, this series will help you explore a world of careers with your learners. From a career in animation to being a member of a drone production team, the sky is the limit! Join us in this five-part STEAM series as we inspire learners to think about their passions and interests and how they can transform that into a career. Explore each blog installment by clicking the links below:


What are your thoughts?

What exciting careers in mathematics do you know of that don’t get enough attention? Who is a mathematician that has inspired you? What techniques have you used to engage your students in math class? Let us know in the comments, or tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 


References

“The Imitation Game.” (2014). Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/

Lamb, R. (2011). How Math Works. Retrieved from https://science.howstuffworks.com/math-concepts/math3.htm

“What does a cryptographer do?” (2020). Retrieved from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/cryptographer/

“What does a fraud analyst do?” (2020). Retrieved from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/fraud-analyst/

“What does a geodesist do?” (2020). Retrieved from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/geodesist/

“What does a meteorologist do?” (2020). Retrieved from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/meteorologist/

“What does an energy auditor do?” (2020). Retrieved from https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/energy-auditor/

“What is an Energy Analyst?” (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.greencareers.biz/faq/what-is-an-energy-analyst/

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