Are you good with numbers? Have a knack for solving problems? Maybe you simply enjoy compiling and interpreting data. If you, like many others, have realised the importance of subjects like mathematics and statistics, then why not turn this affinity into a profession? Statisticians and mathematicians play a major role in areas as diverse as commerce, insurance, finance, medicine, law, education, economics and social research, in private and government sectors alike. If you simply enjoy mathematics and find a deep satisfaction in the beauty and simplicity of the subject’s order and complex structures, then it’s time you explored a career in this field.
It’s All About the Math
Mathematics is applied on a daily basis in practically every walk of life, from the calculation of money, right down to the measurement of ingredients in a recipe. In fact, mathematics is one of the most ancient sciences that we know of. In India itself, mathematics has its roots in the 4,000-year old Vedic literature, which gave rise to the concept of zero.Mathematics is also known as the language of science and technology, and, as we progress in these highly technological times, it has become increasingly important to be able to use it. Mathematics encompasses several fields of study in which calculations are used, including applied mathematics, which uses the principles of mathematics to good effect in other fields, and pure mathematics, which explores mathematical concepts for their own sake. Students of mathematics will need a thorough understanding of basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Applied mathematics comprises sub-disciplines such as fluid dynamics, probability theory, game theory and statistics.
Opting to study math teaches one to reason, draw on previous knowledge, look out for patterns, use models, develop novel approaches, and formulate logical conclusions. One of the benefits of studying mathematics is the variety of career paths that it opens up. When studied practically in conjunction with statistics, the opportunities are limitless.
The Science of Statistics
Statistics is a branch of mathematics that centres around the collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of clusters of numerical data. The job of a statistician is to collect, verify and interpret data that can be used to solve problems. Almost every field, from private companies, government offices and banks, to the armed forces, require statisticians. In fact, the application of statistics is vast and covers areas such as census statistics, ecological statistics, crime statistics, medical statistics, recruitment statistics, labour statistics, tourism statistics, sports statistics, election statistics and education statistics, amongst others.
Statisticians use a number of different methods to quantify data. Methods that are used in statistics usually include questionnaires, surveys and diagnostic tests. For these, data is collected from reliable sources, evaluated using the aforementioned methods and other statistical tools, and is finally presented in the form of graphs, tables and charts. It is the job of the statistician to suggest potential applications of the results, with the aim to find solutions for the problem or decision at hand.
If you wish to pursue your higher studies in statistics, you will need to opt for maths and statistics at the class 12 level. Undergraduates who are pursuing science or arts can then opt to major in statistics or mathematics. Those who wish to specialise further in these subjects can choose to pursue a two-year master’s degree course in statistics or mathematics. Besides a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics, one also requires to have the innate ability to interact with people from various fields in order to understand a problem or issue that needs to be addressed. One also needs to be able to think logically and comprehend important facts that will eventually lead to solutions. Other attributes required include versatility to solve problems and appraise results, and the desire to stay updated with the latest statistical software.
Actuarial science is the application of mathematics, mainly statistics and probability, to the insurance industry. One can also choose to become a research analyst, a job profile that includes researching compensation trends, and problems internally and externally. Research analysts also perform statistical analyses and predictive modelling on current and proposed compensation scenarios, model and track incentive and bonus programmes, and determine the economic impact of situations on the company and the individual.
Quantitative mathematics is the application of mathematics for financial derivatives, stock market analysis and mortgage backing. Quantitative analysts tranform raw data into business strategies.
Choosing to teach mathematics is yet another lucrative option, with the need for math teachers at all levels expected to grow in the future.
Computer science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. Mathematicians, with their training in logical and precise thinking, are highly prized in this field.
Mathematical biology or biomathematics is an interdisciplinary field of study. It models natural and biological processes using mathematical techniques and tools. Results have been applied to areas such as cellular neurobiology, epidemic modelling and population genetics.
While jobs in this field may appear boring or monotonous to an outsider, it is not so. Some amount of work may require a proper office environment, but in some cases fieldwork may be required, involving a lot of travelling for collection of data. Interestingly, the job satisfaction of mathematicians, actuaries and statisticians fall in the top three slots based on criteria such as job environment, pay scale, physical demand, career outlook and stress. Your salary can vary significantly depending on your level of experience, the level of acquired education, and the size of the company you work for. You will need to perform highly and develop years of experience at a respectable company to be able to earn a very high salary.
Choosing to study mathematics and statistics will open many new opportunities. Earning a degree in mathematics may prove to be a challenge, but it is worth it. Mathematics provides an excellent means for developing strong analytical and critical thinking skills, which are applicable in a wide range of highly rewarding careers. To sum it all up, as more of the world’s information is pooled into mathematics, the scope of numbers has become indispensable. It’s a great time to study mathematics and an even better time to embark on a highly rewarding and challenging career in this field.
- Financial Analyst
- Quantitative Environmental Research Ananlyst
- Actuarial Analyst
- Economic Statistician
Specialised Mathematics and Statistics Institutes in India
- Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
- Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Bangalore, Calcutta and Delhi
- The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Madras
- Mehta Research Institute of Mathematics and Mathematical Physics, Allahabad
- Actuarial Society of India, Mumbai
Volume 1 Issue 10