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What Mathematicians and Statisticians Do About this section

Mathematicians
Mathematicians and statisticians work with formulas and data to help solve problems in industry, academia, and government.

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Duties

Mathematicians and statisticians typically do the following:

  • Decide what data are needed to answer specific questions or problems
  • Apply mathematical theories and techniques to solve practical problems in business, engineering, the sciences, and other fields
  • Design surveys, experiments, or opinion polls to collect data 
  • Develop mathematical or statistical models to analyze data
  • Interpret data and communicate analyses to technical and nontechnical audiences
  • Use statistical software to analyze data and create visualizations to aid decision making in business

To solve problems, mathematicians rely on statisticians to design surveys, questionnaires, experiments, and opinion polls for collecting the data they need. For most surveys and opinion polls, statisticians gather data from some people in a particular group. Statisticians determine the type and size of this sample for collecting data in the survey or poll.

Following data collection is analysis, which involves mathematicians and statisticians using specialized statistical software. In their analyses, mathematicians and statisticians identify trends and relationships within the data. They also conduct tests to determine the data’s validity and to account for possible errors. Some help write software code to analyze data more accurately and efficiently.

Mathematicians and statisticians present findings from their analyses and discuss the data’s limitations in order to ensure accurate interpretation. They may present written reports, tables, and charts to team members, clients, and other users.

Mathematicians and statisticians work in any field that benefits from data analysis, including education, government, healthcare, and research and development.

Colleges and universities. Mathematicians and statisticians working in postsecondary schools may study theoretical or abstract concepts in these fields. They identify, research, and work to resolve unexplained issues in mathematics and explore mathematical or statistical theories to increase knowledge and understanding about the field.

Government. Mathematicians and statisticians working in government develop surveys and collect and analyze data on a variety of topics, including employment, crop production, and energy use. At all levels of government, these data help to inform policy proposals and decisions that affect the public.

HealthcareStatisticians known as biostatisticians or biometricians work in pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, or hospitals. They may design studies to test whether drugs successfully treat diseases or medical conditions. They may also help identify the sources of outbreaks of illnesses in humans and animals.

Research and development. Mathematicians and statisticians design experiments for product testing and development. For example, they may help design experiments to see how car engines perform when exposed to extreme weather or analyze consumer data for use in developing marketing strategies. 

Typically, mathematicians and statisticians work on teams with other specialists to solve problems. For example, they may work with chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers to analyze the effectiveness of a new drug.

Work Environment About this section

mathematicians image
Mathematicians and statisticians may work on teams with engineers and scientists.

Mathematicians held about 2,000 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of mathematicians were as follows:

Federal government 62%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 13
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 13

Statisticians held about 34,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of statisticians were as follows:

Federal government 15%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 14
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 9
Healthcare and social assistance 8
Insurance carriers and related activities 6

Mathematicians and statisticians typically work in offices. They also may work on teams with engineers, scientists, and other specialists.

Work Schedules

Most mathematicians and statisticians work full time. Deadlines and last-minute requests for data or analysis may require overtime. In addition, these workers may travel to attend seminars and conferences.

How to Become a Mathematician or Statistician About this section

Mathematicians
Years of study are required to become a mathematician or statistician.

Mathematicians and statisticians typically need at least a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics. However, some positions are available to those with a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Students who are interested in becoming mathematicians or statisticians should take as many math courses as possible in high school.

For jobs with the federal government, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree or significant coursework in mathematics. In private industry, mathematicians typically need either a master’s or a doctoral degree; statisticians typically need a master's degree, but some entry-level positions may accept candidates with a bachelor's degree.

Most colleges and universities have bachelor’s degree programs in mathematics. Courses usually include calculus, differential equations, and linear and abstract algebra. Mathematics students also commonly take courses in a related field, such as computer science, physics, or statistics.

Many universities offer master’s and doctoral degrees in theoretical or applied mathematics. Students who get a doctoral degree may work as professors of mathematics in a college or university.

Statisticians typically need a master’s degree, but some entry-level positions may accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree.

Students majoring in statistics also may take courses in another field, such as computer science, life sciences, or physical sciences. These courses may help prepare students to work in a variety of industries. For example, coursework in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products. Physics may be useful for statisticians working in manufacturing on quality improvement.

Advancement

Mathematicians and statisticians may advance to become senior mathematicians or statisticians or to work in other managerial roles. A master’s or doctoral degree may be required for some advancement opportunities.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Mathematicians and statisticians use mathematical techniques and models to evaluate large amounts of data.

Communication skills. Mathematicians and statisticians must be able to explain technical concepts and solutions in nontechnical ways.

Logical-thinking skills. Mathematicians and statisticians must understand and be able to use computer programming languages to design and develop models and to analyze data.

Math skills. Mathematicians and statisticians use statistics, calculus, and linear algebra to develop their models and analyses.

Problem-solving skills. Mathematicians and statisticians must devise solutions to problems encountered in science, engineering, and other fields.

Pay About this section

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Median annual wages, May 2021

Mathematicians

$108,100

Mathematical science occupations

$98,680

Mathematicians and statisticians

$96,280

Statisticians

$95,570

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for mathematicians was $108,100 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $61,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $169,500.

The median annual wage for statisticians was $95,570 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $157,300.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for mathematicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $129,800
Federal government 115,610
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 61,600

In May 2021, the median annual wages for statisticians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $114,770
Federal government 114,050
Insurance carriers and related activities 83,820
Healthcare and social assistance 79,060
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 77,750

Most mathematicians and statisticians work full time. Deadlines and last-minute requests for data or analysis may require overtime. In addition, these workers may travel to attend seminars and conferences.

Job Outlook About this section

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Statisticians

33%

Mathematicians and statisticians

31%

Mathematical science occupations

29%

Total, all occupations

5%

Mathematicians

0%

 

Overall employment of mathematicians and statisticians is projected to grow 31 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 4,100 openings for mathematicians and statisticians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Projected employment of mathematicians and statisticians varies by occupation (see table). Employment growth for statisticians is expected to result from more widespread use of statistical analysis to inform business, healthcare, and policy decisions. The amount of digitally stored data will increase over the projections decade as people and companies continue to conduct business online and use social media, smartphones, and other mobile devices. As a result, businesses will increasingly need statisticians to analyze the large amount of information and data collected. Statistical analyses will help companies improve their business processes, design and develop new products, and advertise products to potential customers.

Employment projections data for mathematicians and statisticians, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Mathematicians and statisticians

36,100 47,300 31 11,200

Mathematicians

15-2021 2,000 2,000 0 0 Get data

Statisticians

15-2041 34,200 45,300 33 11,200 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about mathematicians, including training, especially for doctoral-level employment, visit

American Mathematical Society

For more information about statisticians, visit

American Statistical Association

This is Statistics

For specific information on careers in applied mathematics, visit

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

For information on federal government requirements for mathematician positions, visit

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

CareerOneStop

For career videos on mathematicians and statisticians, visit

Mathematicians

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O*NET

Biostatisticians

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