What Can You Do With A Maths Degree?

As I have just entered my final year at university, I have started to think about what my future is going to look like and as I’m sure many other final year university students feel, I have no idea what to do next. I wanted to write this article to show that there are so many different avenues to pursue after completing a maths degree and you’re not alone in trying to figure out the pathway for you.

I sat down with Isla Hosking to help me find out what exactly the options are following on from a maths degree. I am going to break it down into three different sections; further education; your “typical” maths graduate route; and some more obscure paths.

Further Education

Now, I’m sure that it has crossed most student’s minds to continue with their education after their bachelor’s degree. Of course, after completing a maths degree your initial reaction is to head straight on to a master’s course in the same subject. However, there are ways of either completely switching up your education or specialising into a niche area. For example, with a degree in any discipline you can become a lawyer by completing a few SQE assessments.

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When looking at master’s courses, there are specific ones which do not require you to have studied the subject at degree level. For example UCL does a computer science course which specifically states in the entry requirements for you to have a degree in a subject that is not computer science or information technology. Finding these courses can be a little tricky, you’ll need to have a subject in mind and go through each university and their entry requirements.

If you are very interested in mathematics research then a PhD may be an appropriate route. This will open more avenues of further research and perhaps lecturing. Now, even if you gain a master’s or PhD, you will still be able to go into any of the jobs that I speak about below.

Your “Typical” Maths Routes

The “typical” maths routes that I spoke about earlier are the ones that your mind would naturally go to when you think about paths after a maths degree. A very popular route is teaching, this could include gaining extra qualifications after university, such as a PGCE or a PGDE. There are also now schemes in which you could train to become a teacher and gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) whilst teaching in a job.

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Another very popular avenue is to go into the finance sector. If I were to go into every different area of finance there is this article would become hours long, so I’ll just go into accounting. Again, this career requires more qualifications such as the ACCA. With accounting, there are various ways to complete the required qualifications but one of the most popular is doing it whilst also working, if you are lucky you can get your workplace to pay for your qualifications essentially like an apprenticeship.

Obscure Pathways

British Royal Air Force air traffic controllers, in the control tower,  coordinate with an aircraft during

Some atypical career paths that I spoke about with Isla include working in the public sector. This would involve a lot of training on the job, but the skills you gain from completing a maths degree will still definitely be put into use. Different areas in the public sector include: Met Office, central and local government, security and defense. There are also opportunities in transport, logistics and distribution, these include but not limited to: air traffic controller, stock analyst, transport planner and supply chain manager. 

Another interesting career to look at is an algorithm engineer or algorithm designer. This career is very popular and requires a wide range of skills. Designing an algorithm is really just implementing a mathematical proof within certain constraints, this proof is later implementing into actual code by software developers. You can find careers of this type in topics from CAD software to AI to Algorithm-based trading.

Tips and Tricks

Now, when considering your own future, I think it’s so important to talk to a career’s advisor, they may be able to help give you a nudge in the right direction or just introduce you to all of your options. A great scheme in place at UEA is that the university will support you for 3 years after you have finished your degree course, this means if you decide to take a couple of years out you can always go back and ask for career advice.

Whilst speaking to Isla she gave me some recommendations that I’m going to share with you:

  • Summer Internship/ Work Experience

    A summer internship or work experience is a great opportunity to find out what a specific sector is like without committing to a graduate job or further study. Completing work in these sectors gives you invaluable experience which employers will love when you come to finding a graduate job.
  • Information interviews

    I had never heard of this until Isla spoke to me. Information interviews involve contacting someone who currently holds a job that you perhaps are looking to go into or are just interested in and asking them for a chat about how they got into that position and what that career actually involves.
  • LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is a great platform to research different sectors and paths into careers. This is because when you go onto someone’s profile you are able to see their full job history. LinkedIn is also a great way to start an Information Interview, you can reach out to people you have connected with over the messaging function.
  • Gradcracker

    Gradcracker is an amazing website which advertises grad schemes, summer internships and placements aimed at STEM students. It’s a good website to use as everything’s in one place but be careful that most jobs advertised on there are from large companies. This means there is a lot of competition, you’ll find that most maths graduates will start at a smaller company. 
  • UEA mentoring scheme

    One amazing scheme that UEA offers is a mentoring scheme, this involves being put in touch with someone in the sector you are thinking of going into. They will give you advice and answer any questions you may have about their journey into the sector.

Of course, I was never going to be able to cover every single career you could follow with a maths degree, but I think this just shows how versatile this discipline is. I think the most important thing to take away from this article is just how many options there are and that everyone works on their own timeline.

Hannah is currently in her second year at UEA studying Mathematics. Fluid Flow and Differential Equations have been her favourite modules so far, and she can’t wait to learn about cryptography in third year. Alongside her studies, she enjoys watching and taking part in musical theatre and dance. Her most recent project has been playing the role of Otto in Spring Awakening.