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What Mathematicians Do

Mathematicians use high-level mathematics and technology to develop new mathematical principles, understand relationships between existing principles, and solve real-world problems.


Mathematicians typically do the following:

The following are examples of types of mathematicians:

Applied mathematicians use theories and techniques, such as mathematical modeling, to solve practical problems. For example, they may analyze the effectiveness of new drugs or the aerodynamic characteristics of new automobiles.  

Theoretical mathematicians identify unexplained issues and seek to resolve them. Although they often strive to increase basic knowledge without considering its practical use, the knowledge they develop has been an important part of many scientific and engineering achievements.

Workers other than formal mathematicians use mathematical techniques. For example, engineers, computer scientists, physicists, and economists use mathematics extensively. Some workers, such as statisticians, actuaries, and operations research analysts, are specialists in a particular branch of mathematics. For more information, see the profiles on engineers, computer and information scientists, physicists and astronomers, economists, statisticians, actuaries, and operations research analysts.

Some people with a mathematics background become math teachers. For more information, see the profiles on middle school, high school, and postsecondary teachers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition