Your Guide to a Career with Numbers
Careers involving numbers can be extremely rewarding for people who enjoy math, science, computers, and technology. These types of careers are in high demand; bring well-paying, well-established careers that, according to the figures, will only continue to grow.
Is a Career With Numbers a Good Choice For You?
Many people assume that for you have a successful career with numbers you have to be gifted in math, calculus, and algebra. But you don’t have to be at the top of all your math classes to thrive in a career with numbers. There are, however, some common characteristics that could make you an ideal candidate for one of these careers.
If you can think analytically and focus on details, you may have the natural inclination for a career in numbers. You don’t have to be a human calculator, but the ability to solve numerical problems, organize numbers, and categorize concepts can help in your career. If you are curious about how stats affect the lives of people, understand spacial relationships, and can base your decisions on sound logic, as opposed to emotion, you may have the internal bearing for a career in numbers.
Math is, of course, an important part of any career with numbers, so people who are naturally gifted with math will often have the most success in a career with numbers. You can always develop mathematical skills, so even if you enjoy math, but don’t necessarily excel, you may have the foundation for a career with numbers.
People who work with numbers often need to identify patterns and structures through basic observational analysis. You’ll be challenged by complex problems, and you’ll need the ability to breakdown these issues and reach the solution in a simple and unbiased manner.
Through all of this, an attention to detail is crucial. If you are working with numbers, a small mistake can be compounded into a huge problem, so you have to pay attention to detail and appreciate precision in all your work.
Overview of Numbers Related Careers
There are many career options available to motivated individuals who want to work with numbers. These jobs range across many industries and can include a seemingly limitless range of tasks. Let’s look at a few of the common areas for careers in numbers, as well as a few specific careers that you’ll find in these fields. To give you an idea of the career potential, we’ve included median salary (2021) and expected growth (2019 to 2029) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a branch of the Department of Labor.
The business industry can be broad reaching and diverse. People who are good with numbers may find themselves helping businesses with financial organization, forecasting, helping to allocate resources, and more.
Median Salary: $77,250
Expected Growth: 6%
Accountants are responsible for the preparation and completion of financial records for businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and individuals. They will need to compute taxes, assess financial operations, and create ideas to reduce cost and enhance revenues; all while ensuring a company or individual is meeting their tax or debt obligations.
Median Salary: $105,630
Expected Growth: 6%
While accountants use numbers in the here-and-now, economist use numbers with an eye towards the future, helping businesses and organizations make decisions. They may conduct surveys, collect data, interpret the results, and then make recommendations to a business or organization. They may advise on economic topics or provide suggestions on economic problems, but they will always use numbers as their guide.
The concept of information technology, or “IT,” is far-reaching, but it generally involves the use of computers, storage, and networking technology to create, store, and utilize data. IT can include both hardware (the physical devices) and software (the programming) to perform a wide range of functions.
Computer Research Scientist
Median Salary: $131,490
Expected Growth: 21%
With a top-notch salary and faster-than-average growth, computer research is one of the best career choices possible. These professionals research and create new ways of computing while solving problems in information technology. Essentially, their job is to improve computer software and hardware.
Median Salary: $109,020
Expected Growth: 25%
This is another IT job with an excellent salary and outstanding growth, and this one generally requires a bachelor’s degree to enter the career, making it a fast-track option. While the job includes lots of numbers, this career uses creative thinking to address the needs of software users, as well as technical expertise to reach those goals.
Combining traditional scientific methods and high-tech information systems, data science helps inform people on trends and behaviors occurring in the real world. Among many possibilities, the field can be utilized to enhance business operations, inform government policy, or analyze healthcare for superior results.
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Median Salary: $131,490
Expected Growth: 21%
Computer and information research scientists see strong salaries along with a terrific job growth outlook of 19% growth by 2026. They are expected to invent and design new approaches to computing technology while also finding new uses for existing technology.
Market Research Analyst
Median Salary: $63,920
Expected Growth: 19%
These professionals will study the conditions of the market for the specific purpose of assisting businesses with sales and services. Their research can help businesses measure the effectiveness of marketing; the potential for a new product, or the general wants and needs of consumers. By gathering and interpreting data, market research analysts make businesses more successful.
Median Salary: $96,280
Expected Growth: 31%
Statisticians use techniques to generate and analyze information in order to make conclusions. They may need to design a survey or mathematical experiment, and they will often be tasked with analyzing the data to improve business techniques or enhance operations. Through it all, they will use math to solve problems in business, science, or any other area.
The sciences can take many different forms, from studying lifecycles of the tiniest insects to researching the edges of the known universe. Every type of science, no matter the scope, involves the use of numbers to draw conclusions.
Median Salary: $79,260
Expected Growth: 9%
Studying tiny life forms such as bacteria, algae, and viruses, microbiologists help us understand how these organisms live and whether or not they could be useful to society. Microbiologists will need to create experiments and interpret large pools of data, making it a wonderful career for people who enjoy numbers.
Median Salary: $152,430
Expected Growth: 8%
Dealing with some of the most complex mathematics on the planet, physicists attempt to understand and explain the workings of nature, such as gravity, energy, and atomic structures. They explore fundamental properties of space, time, and matter with the goal of better understanding our world and the cosmos.
Considered a type of science, engineering deals with designing and building things. These “things” can range from tiny microchips to highways that span a continent. No matter what the scale, it always involves science, innovation, and plenty of numbers.
Median Salary: $97,410
Expected Growth: 10%
The medical field needs innovative and effective equipment designed for highly specific purposes; it’s the job of a biomedical engineer to create these devices. The career will include biological sciences, engineering principles, and software to develop a wide range of items, from artificial organs to diagnostic equipment.
Median Salary: $88,050
Expected Growth: 7%
Working for both the public and private sector, civil engineers design and build a wide range of infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water systems, and even airports. Their work will include the analysis of long-term needs, the design of specific plans, and the preparation of cost estimates, all of which require a strong understanding of numbers and analysis.
Scholarships for Students Who Want to Work with Numbers
Paying for college can be expensive, but there are many scholarships available for people students who are interested in working with numbers. For example, the National Society of Accountants has scholarships available to people who want to complete an accounting education. From data science to economics, there are many scholarships available that will help jumpstart your education. Here are a few examples.
National Society of Accountants
Women Techmakers Scholars Program
Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program
National Society of High School Scholars Foundation
Upsilon Pi Epsilon
Choosing the Right Major for a Career in Numbers
If you are looking at one of the excellent careers in numbers, there are many different majors you can choose. Each one will give you a strong foundation in the use of numbers, but you’ll want to think carefully, about your goals, talents, and passions, before you make a decision on your major.
If you enroll in a mathematics program, you will be able to develop your skills in algebra, geometry, analysis, and calculus, making you a top candidate for many fields. Majoring in mathematics at the undergraduate level also sets you up for many master’s degrees, making it a well-rounded option for people who enjoy working with numbers.
During your mathematics-major courses, you’ll learn about the foundations of math, explore research methods of mathematics, and learn to analyze techniques. You’ll not only learn established methods, you’ll develop skills needed to create new mathematical structures.
This education will teach you the basics of economic theory, preparing you to work in many different fields. Economics seeks to explain how money moves from one place to another, helping us understand local, national, and global economies. This field is utilized by businesses, non-profits, and government organizations who want to make informed decisions on money, financing, and general commerce.
Economic educational programs involve a lot of math, such as linear algebra and calculus, as well as concepts related specifically to money, such as political economics and “econometrics,” which also uses math to describe economic systems.
If you want to complete an education in engineering, you’ll likely have to choose a specific type of engineering. Options include civil, computer, electrical, environmental, and architectural engineering, just to name a few, but they all involve a heavy does of numbers, often combined with design concepts. They usually include training with computer systems, such as engineering software.
Engineering is a broad-ranging field, but if you like math and science, are good with numbers, and enjoy building or repairing physical items, an engineering education might be right for you.
If you have an aptitude for mathematics and organization, accounting could be a perfect education for your future, and majoring in this field will give you the right skills for a successful career in numbers. This versatile business degree prepares students to work for nearly any type of organization while opening doors to an in-demand career.
No matter what level or type of accounting program you complete, you’ll take courses that introduce you to financial accounting, information systems, auditing, and financial management. You may also complete courses on accounting research, federal taxes, and computer applications that apply to the field.
This degree focuses on collecting and interpreting data, and it usually involves lots of calculus and algebra, as well as concepts in computing and technology. Statistics involves using numbers to solve problems, but there is less emphasis on computers than you’d find in data science, which is a similar but different major. (More on data science below.)
The field generally emphasizes more theory and hypothesis testing, with numbers and statistics as the foundation.
Data Science: One of the Top Majors for a Career in Science
If you would enjoy a career in numbers and want to join a market that is teeming with opportunity, majoring in data science is a great choice. With an education in data science, you’ll have the skills needed to take enormous amounts of data points and use your advanced math, statistics, and programming skills to organize and utilize them properly. You’ll then be able to apply advanced analytical powers, including industry knowledge, to find solutions to complex business problems.
If you are seeking a bachelor’s degree in data science, be prepared to be challenged. While extremely exciting, data science is a tough profession, and you’ll need to meet specific requirements before you enter the first class. Programs usually have entrance requirements, prerequisites, and grade requirements for admission.
During your education, you will be introduced to a wide range of numbers-related courses and concepts. Many courses center around mathematics as well as technology-related courses.
The mathematical aspect of data science is designed to sharpen your basic skills with numbers. You’ll have to become proficient in calculus, which is a complex form of math that deals with continuous change and is seen as a gateway to mathematical analysis. You’ll also have to complete courses that involve algebra and statistics.
The computer aspect of the course can take a variety of forms, from computer networking to advanced databases. You may have to study network technologies for data encoding, proper management for data warehouses, and modeling language.
This initial course introduces you to the most important and fundamental concepts for analyzing and describing the worlds of science, government, and business, laying the foundations for more complex and advanced courses. Later in the bachelor’s degree you’ll be introduced to forms that help data science take shape, such as tables, text, and images, as well as techniques for managing and utilizing data. In the later stages of a data science program, you’ll likely be trained in concepts like probability, regression analysis, and statistical learning.
Majoring in data science can also be enhanced by many elective courses. Depending on the institution, you may find optional courses such as statistical inference, exploratory data analysis, or data mining. At the end of your education, you’ll likely have to complete a data science project in the “real world” and demonstrate your ability to use the discipline in an applicable area.
The Next Step: Volunteer Work and Internships
To enhance your career and increase your chances of landing a wonderful job after graduation, you’ll want to complete an internship and volunteer work either before or after school. You can work with the school where you are enrolled to find opportunities for internships, as they should have a large database of contacts that can help you gain valuable experience. You may even find internships that are paid, allowing you to earn some money while improving your overall skills with numbers. You likely won’t be paid a fortune, but you will gain valuable experience.
Volunteer work is another option for gaining experience. Not only are you helping various organizations, this experience looks great on a resume and really captures the attention of employers. How can you put your numbers-related education to work as a volunteer? Again, you might look towards your school for help, but you can also find opportunities through websites and community organization.
While you may feel overwhelmed already with your school load, completing internships and volunteering can be a wise long-term decision.
Joining Professional Organizations
To increase your professional connections and help improve your chances of finding a good opportunity, you should also consider joining a professional organization related to your field. There are many professional organizations, and joining one or more is a great way to meet people who share your career interests. Many of these organizations also offer educational and career-advancement opportunities, making them ideal for any professional.
Learn More About Data Science Careers
Data science is one of the best gateways to a career with numbers. Visit the data science career section for more information on the many different careers paths related to data science.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for accountants, economists, computer and information systems managers, software developers, market research analysts, statisticians, microbiologists, physicists, biomedical engineers, and civil engineers reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2023.