If you love crunching numbers and managing spreadsheets, you're in luck. Jobs in mathematics rank among the nation's best for 2015. These positions are financially lucrative, offer abundant opportunities for advancement and, most surprisingly, often deviate from common perceptions about math.
For instance, if you're the next Einstein but can't write a cohesive email or make a group presentation, you likely won't achieve the career success you seek.
"Being strong in math is a given, but having soft skills, such as the ability to communicate well and work in a team, can be just as important," says Tonya B. Manning, Chief Actuary at Buck Consultants of Xerox in Winston-Salem, N.C. Manning is fortunate in that her position as an actuary is ranked as the nation's overall best job for 2015. Yet Manning isn't surprised.
"I've never met an actuary who said they didn't love what they do. I work with interesting people every day, from CFOs and attorneys to international clients, and what I do each day is different from what I did the day before," says Manning. "And since I love solving problems that benefit society, it's really a wonderful career."
Manning's work focuses on helping companies create retirement plans for their employees, which she says gives her the satisfaction that what she does each day makes a difference in people's lives. That's a feeling shared by another math whiz, New York-based consultant Ilya Kopysitsky. He's a statistician in the academic world whose responsibilities focus largely on helping graduate students and professors succeed in their research. That includes helping them estimate what data they’ll need when conducting experiments, which also requires solid people skills.
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In addition, Kopysistsky, a graduate of Brown University who's now pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, says that working in math offers an almost unlimited career potential across a wide range of industries.
“Friends I went to school with now work in finance, government, academia, high technology and more. There are many different niches you can work in,” he says. The same is true for data science, a field that David Gerster of Big ML in San Francisco says has changed dramatically in the past few years.
“Predicative modeling historically has been this esoteric thing,” Gerster says. “You would have to hire someone with Ph.D. to get this kind of advanced analysis, [but] easier tools have brought data science to the mainstream.”
The “hype” surrounding what has been labeled as Big Data has made this career more appealing to math majors than such fields as marketing, sales, technology or any sector in which predicative models can be applied to project consumers’ behavior, says Gerster.
As a result, data scientist is ranked among the best jobs of 2015 with a favorable hiring outlook, which is one of the five core metrics used to determine our rankings.
Other factors include stress, environment and income, which definitely ranks well in the mathematics field. Actuaries, statisticians, mathematicians and data scientists earn wages waging from $79,000 to $124,000 annually, though an advanced education is typically required. Yet getting started as a data scientist may not be as difficult as one might assume, Gerster explains.
“You can’t really learn this in an academic setting,” he says. “The only way to actually learn is working with data sets.”
The other best jobs of 2015 are in either healthcare or information technology, which should come as no surprise to anyone following employment trends in recent years, as those two sectors have been the most promising.
According to the Jobs Rated report, software engineer and computer systems analyst are the best bets in IT. Both earn competitive average wages and have favorable hiring outlooks.
In healthcare, audiologists, occupational therapists, biomedical engineers and dental hygienists lead the way.
The following are the 10 best jobs of 2015, according to the Jobs Rated report. Income and growth outlook listed reflect Jobs Rated metrics.
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Tonya B. Manning says she's "never met an actuary who...didn't love what they do." Job satisfaction contributes to the No. 1 ranking of actuary in 2015. So, too, does the career's positive hiring outlook and high average pay.
The anticipated demand for actuaries is due in part to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.