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When Career Cast rated 200 different jobs according to physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook, four of the top ten jobs for 2010 were math professions. Here’s the top ten, with the professions related to math highlighted in bold:
- Actuary – Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters.
Software Engineer - Researches, designs, develops and maintains software systems along with hardware development for medical, scientific, and industrial purposes.
Computer Systems Analyst – Plans and develops computer systems for businesses and scientific institutions.
Biologist – Studies the relationship of plants and animals to their environment.
Historian – Analyzes and records historical information from a specific era or according to a particular area of expertise.
Mathematician – Applies mathematical theories and formulas to teach or solve problems in a business, educational, or industrial climate.
Paralegal Assistant – Assists attorneys in preparation of legal documents; collection of depositions and affidavits; and investigation, research and analysis of legal issues.
Statistician – Tabulates, analyzes, and interprets the numeric results of experiments and surveys.
Accountant – Prepares and analyzes financial reports to assist managers in business, industry and government.
Dental Hygienist - Assists dentists in diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of a group or private dental practice.
That’s right… actuaries, mathematicians, statisticians, and accountants are some of the highest paid, least stressed workers in the world, and they don’t pull muscles very often while doing their jobs. Mathy folks have known this for a long time. I’m glad the rest of the world is finally realizing it, too.
Q: What kind of insect is good at math?
A: An account-ant.
The ratings for 2010 actually represent a slip for math professions compared to 2009, when the professions of actuary, statistician, and mathematician occupied the top three spots. Respectively, the median salaries for these professions were $85,229, $95,161, and $73,153.
I’m happy to see that math is represented so prominently on this list, because my suspicion is that math professionals are the second-most ridiculed workers in jokes (behind lawyers and politicians, of course, who deserve all of the ridicule they receive and then some). Here’s a joke that makes fun of several professions simultaneously.
A politician, engineer, mathematician and statistician were driving down a steep mountain road. The brakes failed, and the car screamed down the road out of control. Inexplicably, the driver maintained control through the bottom of the hill, and when it reached flat ground, the car gently rolled to a stop. They all got out of the car, slightly shaken from the experience, but otherwise unharmed.
The politician said, “To fix this problem, we need to organise a committee, have meetings, write several reports, implicate the parties responsible for this failure, and enact laws to prevent this from happening again.”
The engineer said, “Such a process would take far too long. Besides, that method never works. I have my pen knife here, so I will take apart the brake system, isolate the problem, and correct it myself.”
The mathematician said, “Actually, I’ve seen this happen before, and I know a mechanic who can fix the brakes. We therefore don’t need to do anything, since I’ve proven that a solution exists.”The statistician said, “No – you’re all wrong! Let’s push the car back up the hill and see if it happens again. We only have an N of 1 here!”