Why You Should Learn Math: Mathematicians Have the Best Job

Sarah Needleman of The Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article about a new CareerCast.com study from Les Krantz, author of Jobs Rated Almanac, about the best and worst jobs in the U.S.

The study evaluated 200 jobs according to environment, income, employment outlook, physical demand and stress. The data are from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, amongst others:

According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions -- indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise -- unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren't expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching -- attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.

The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job's median income and growth potential. Mathematicians' annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.


Neatorama, of course, already know that Math rocks. Check out our I Love Math T-shirt.

Seems like a pretty arbitrary set of criteria for what is "best". I'm sure there are many jobs on the "worst" list that are actually more appealing to people than sitting at an office desk all day.

I realize that some on the worst list are dirty, unskilled jobs, but the study doesn't take into account that, maybe even when given all the choices, there are some who would prefer to work on cars or be a child care worker than be a statistician.
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Funny, I know many people on both ends of the list, and the people on the top seem to be a lot more dissatisfied with life in general.

Maybe it's because the people in the jobs at the bottom of the list know how to separate life and work.

Also: dairy farmer? Really? Legit dairy farmer? You can't get into that position if your life depends on it unless you're born into it or have obscene amounts of start-up money, but even though they work very hard, it's hard to find a more fun group. Assuming you find heifers fun.

I'm also pretty sure our society wouldn't be at a huge loss if we had a few less philosophers, historians, or MPEs, but if we had fewer mail carriers, garbage men, firefighters, construction workers...society wouldn't BE society.
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I think Les Krantz has a lot to learn about what genuine job satisfaction! Many of the things he lists as negative traits- lifting, bending, crawling are not only fun but vital to life! Sedentary is not necessarily a good thing, desk workers report more chronic back pain than construction workers! His ranking system does not include happiness, job satisfaction, all the things that really matter.
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After spending years attaining a degree in Actuarial Science (because one of these stupid lists talked about how great a job it was) and passing several very rigorous exams, in the end it didn't matter, because there were so few jobs available. Of my four actuarial science major buddies, none of us got jobs as actuaries. My advice is to ignore this list and pursue studies in a discipline where there are actually jobs.
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Med lab tech as #16??? Good heavens...that field is one of the most shat-upon in all of medicine. No respect from ANYONE and pays less than an RN. All because we're "hidden" from the patient's view and blamed for all sorts of mishaps that other departments cause (read: lab makes one helluva scapegoat). This list-maker needs to go back to the drawing board. Yikes.
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It's someone else's idea of what's good - of course it doesn't reflect reality. If it did, we'd not need shops, choice, different sorts of anything, we'd all be like her. Or me.
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OK. I am an accountant, which this list says is number 10. I used to be in construction (residential), and was 50 times happier there than I could ever be in this job. The pay was just a tad less, and yet it was a way more satisfying job on an emotional level. If the economy wasn't so bad, I would be back out in the field in a heartbeat!
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Well, obviously the Statisticians and Actuarians(?) have over-compensated during their interviews. I know many statisticians and almost all of them are bored to death after the first few years on the job.

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Lumberjack is 200? I always heard that being a lumberjack was ok. They sleep all night and work all day. They even go to the lavatory. On Wednesdays they go shopping, and have buttered scones for tea.
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I don't think its that bad being a child care worker. I loved bgein with the kids. Sure the pay isn't reat and it can be stressful at times. My favorite part of the job was being greeted with hugs in the morning. I miss my kids :(
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Where's Librarian? I'm defiantly having more fun at this job then being a Assistant Manager at a restaurant. Less physical activity sure but a lot less stress.
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HAHA! And to think most of the people i knew at school wanted to become either Welders or Nurses!
Seriously, i find these very popular in choices, but the best jobs are those the person is really enjoying his/her time doing so.
I'm as confused as you are JM! Philosophers!? what a useless job! i mean, do we really need people who ponders about weither a tree falling with no one around makes a sound or not?
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I'm on the fence regarding this list. If physical work and using most of your body to get the job done is a problem then sure this list looks like it's accurate. However, if you're the type who can't sit at a desk and zone out until lunch or 5pm then this is a list of nightmares.
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How many were involved in the undertaking before a consensus was taken on this list? Doctors, physical trainers, psychologists...many can attest to the fact that physical activity would boost satisfaction rather than decrease it. Why else are so many offices beginning to build gyms in their offices?

I have experience both in film editing and now as a scenic painter. The job field was more open as an editer, the pay was significantly higher...and yeah, that bit about the toxic fumes and physical labor are more prevalent in painting than in computer work but... I am vastly more satisfied painting than sitting.

This is a decent list...just the wrong categories. Best and worst are adjectives too broad to be determined objectively.
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Let's get down to the Truth, however:

A Ph.D. in mathematics usually is the minimum educational requirement, except in the Federal Government.
Master’s degree and Ph.D. holders with a strong background in mathematics and a related field, such as computer science or engineering, should have better employment opportunities in related occupations.
Average employment growth is expected for mathematicians.
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