SPU Mathematics

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Why should you major in mathematics?  

Because you enjoy math and/or are good at it!  

What more reason do you need?

A piece of advice: Choose to study something that you enjoy and that you find challenging!  This will make for a rich and rewarding undergraduate experience.

Okay, I can already hear you asking, "But what can I DO with a degree in math?"

Besides the obvious answer (teaching), there are many career tracks available in both industry and government:

  • Many graduates with degrees in mathematics work in the computer industry. A combination of strong mathematical skills along with a background in programming opens up outstanding job prospects.   At SPU, we have a specially designed major in computational mathematics designed specifically for this purpose. 

  • The U.S. government employs many people with math degrees as statisticians in

If you are interested in teaching, mathematics is an excellent field with great employment opportunities.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor states that 

Currently, many school districts have difficulty hiring qualified teachers in some subjects—mathematics, science (especially chemistry and physics), bilingual education, and computer science. Specialties that currently have an abundance of qualified teachers include general elementary education, physical education, and social studies.

The 2009 Jobs Rated Almanac by Les Krantz ranked 250 jobs based on salary, work environment, security, stress level, physical demands, and outlook.  Three career tracks that require a degree in mathematics or statistics were ranked among the top 11 jobs: Actuary was ranked #2, Statistician was #9, and Mathematician was #11.  Furthermore, many people with math degrees are also employed in three of the other top ten jobs: Software Engineer (#6), Computer Systems Analyst (#4), and Financial Planning (#3).  So a math degree opens up some outstanding career paths!


What is an actuary?

An actuary is someone who applies a mathematical mind to solving long-term financial problems, primarily in connection with insurance, pensions and investment. The distinctive feature of the actuary's approach is that it involves the evaluation of risk.

Actuaries are essential to insurance companies where they perform task ranging from the calculation of premiums to researching appropriate ways to invest the company's assets.

Aside from the traditional area of employment in insurance companies, actuaries also work in a variety of other areas. A large number of actuaries work as consultants providing professional advice relating to pension funds and other employee benefits. Other areas where actuaries work include the stock exchange and the government.

Actuaries draw upon a wide variety of skills which often range beyond traditional actuarial ideas. These may include areas such as marketing, the environment, law or computers.

Actuaries are highly paid. The difficultly in qualifying as an actuary restricts the supply, while there is a growing demand for the services of actuaries. The actuaries job often carries with it a large amount of responsibility for significant amounts of money. For these and other reasons actuaries tend to have high incomes.

The actuarial career is challenging, but it is also highly satisfying.

"As a profession we are apt to be accurate, cautious, consistent, and reticent, and in these lies our strength; but if they do not leave enough room for impulse and imagination, they can be a weakness. The actuary who is only an actuary is not an actuary." -- Frank Mitchell Redington

For more information about actuarial careers, visit the "What is an Actuary?" page at beanactuary.org.


Please read our disclaimer. Send questions or comments to Brian Gill or call (206) 281-2954.
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Mathematics Department
Seattle Pacific University
3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, Washington 98119-1997
United States of America