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Mathematician: Best Job of 2008


Jan 14 2009, 06:59 AM (Post #1)
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QUOTE
Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs
Mathematicians Land Top Spot in New Ranking of Best and Worst Occupations in the U.S.
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN

Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation -- mathematician -- has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.

Error! Filename not specified.Scott Brundage

"It's a lot more than just some boring subject that everybody has to take in school," says Ms. Courter, a research mathematician at mental images Inc., a maker of 3D-visualization software in San Francisco. "It's the science of problem-solving."

The study, released Tuesday from CareerCast.com, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. (CareerCast.com is published by Adicio Inc., in which Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. holds a minority stake.)

The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of "Jobs Rated Almanac," and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz's own expertise.

According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because avorable conditions -- indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise -- unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren't expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching -- attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.

The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job's median income and growth potential. Mathematicians' annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.
The Best and Worst Jobs

Of 200 Jobs studied, these came out on top -- and at the bottom:

The Best


The Worst

1. Mathematician


200. Lumberjack

2. Actuary gn="top">199. Dairy Farmer


3. Statistician


198. Taxi Driver

4. Biologist


197. Seaman

5. Software Engineer


196. EMT

6. Computer Systems Analyst


195. Roofer

7. Historian


194. Garbage Collector

8. Sociologist


193. Welder

9. Industrial Designer


192. Roustabout

10. Accountant


191. Ironworker

11. Economist


190. Construction Wo td valign="top">12. Philosopher


189. Mail Carrier

13. Physicist


188. Sheet Metal Worker


14. Parole Officer


187. Auto Mechanic


15. Meteorologist


186. Butcher


16. Medical Laboratory Technician


185. Nuclear Decontamination Tech


17. Paralegal Assistant


184. Nurse (LN)


18. Computer Programmer


183. Painter


19. Motion Picture Editor


182. Child Care Worker


20. Astronomer
 
More on the Methodology

    * For methodology info and detailed job descriptions, go to http://careercast.com/jobs/content/JobsRated_Methodology
    * See the complete list of job rankings
    * Read about the last study of the best and worst jobs.

Her job entails working as part of a virtual team that designs mathematically based computer programs, some of which have been used to make films such as "The Matrix" and "Speed Racer." She telecommutes from her home and rarely works overtime or feels stressed out. "Problem-solving involves a lot of thinking," says Ms. Courter. "I find that calming."

Other jobs at the top of the study's list inc n, biologist, software engineer and computer-systems analyst, historian and sociologist.

Mark Nord is a sociologist working for the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C. He studies hunger in American households and writes research reports about his findings. "The best part of the job is the sense that I'm making some contribution to good policy making," he says. "The kind of stuff that I crank out gets picked up by advocacy organizations, media and policy officials."

The study estimates sociologists earn $63,195, though Mr. Nord, 62, says his income is about double that amount. He says he isn't surprised by the findings because his job generates little stress and he works a steady 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. "It's all done at the computer at my desk," he says. "The main occupational hazard is carpal tunnel syndrome."


(From the Wall Street Journal, I don't have a link, I received this via email, so PM me if you really want the article, I didn't leave anything out.)

Anyway, just figured I'd rub it in for all of you non-mathies. Anyone disagree? Any aspiring seamen?
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Jan 14 2009, 07:09 AM (Post #2)
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I would rather be the guy who collects horse semen than a guy who sits there and plays with numbers all day. Thats how much I dislike long periods of time spent on math. Whenever I am programming, and a problem comes up that requires math to solve, if I spend more than 10 minutes on it, I find something else to do and come back to it.
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Jan 14 2009, 07:14 AM (Post #3)
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QUOTE (Keeserat @ Jan 14 2009, 02:09 AM)
I would rather be the guy who collects horse semen than a guy who sits there and plays with numbers all day.  Thats how much I dislike long periods of time spent on math.  Whenever I am programming, and a problem comes up that requires math to solve, if I spend more than 10 minutes on it, I find something else to do and come back to it.
*


You seem to have a misconception about mathematicians. We don't just sit and do problems all day. We can also stand while we're doing it.

Unless what you're getting at is that you're more comfortable around horse semen.
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Jan 14 2009, 07:20 AM (Post #4)
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that's not at all what I was getting at.

What exactly does a mathmatician do, anyways? I don't expect anyone pays someone just to do meaningless math.

What bothers me is the idea of doing the exact same thing every day, all day. Even if every day was the same, as long as my first hour is different than my second hour, I am fine.
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Jan 14 2009, 07:23 AM (Post #5)
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Wait... Economist isn't #1?

At a time like this?

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Jan 14 2009, 07:26 AM (Post #6)
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Yeah really... economist not no. 1???
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Jan 14 2009, 07:27 AM (Post #7)
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just so I know, was that sarcasm?
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Jan 14 2009, 07:28 AM (Post #8)
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No. At a time like this, economics are in strong demand. Obama himself snapped up some some of Berkeley's top economists, leaving me fewer classes to choose from FROWN.GIF
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Jan 14 2009, 07:29 AM (Post #9)
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QUOTE (Keeserat @ Jan 14 2009, 12:27 AM)
just so I know, was that sarcasm?
*


No.
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Jan 14 2009, 07:32 AM (Post #10)
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There's more to a job than wages and stability. I just think that would be a generally stressful job to have right now.

This post has been edited by Keeserat: Jan 14 2009, 07:38 AM
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Jan 14 2009, 07:57 AM (Post #11)
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QUOTE (Keeserat @ Jan 14 2009, 02:20 AM)
that's not at all what I was getting at.

What exactly does a mathmatician do, anyways?  I don't expect anyone pays someone just to do meaningless math.

What bothers me is the idea of doing the exact same thing every day, all day.  Even if every day was the same, as long as my first hour is different than my second hour, I am fine.
*


Math itself revolves mainly around two things, problem solving, and proving. Since math is logic, just about all technical stuff has some sort of mathematical application. Mathematicians don't sit down and do arithmetic all day, in fact, a good chunk of them suck at arithmetic because it's trivial. The upper level stuff is generally more important. If I subdivide, some mathematicians are applied mathematicians, and some are pure mathematicians. Both do research, publish papers, travel to speak in conferences, and teach classes for colleges. A pure mathematician is more in the research field, while an applied mathematician might be hired by NASA, or the military to work on some sort of project (both types are in some way into research and applications, but it's more of a career specialty). Mathematicians also review proofs and articles sent to them, often to give credit to, or discredit proofs to some of the bigger problems.

Those are the basic things a given mathematician will do. A lot of the research stuff will involve a few hours of rigorous pen and paper work, but that's by no means all that a mathematician does.

As far as applications, there are few areas in math that have no application, and part of an applied mathematician's job is to find ways to apply such things. Something like abstract algebra (it has abstract in its name, so you know it sounds useless) has certain methods that prove things in number theory, which has very immediate, and obvious applications.

Of course, if you don't like math, you wouldn't like being a mathematician, but it isn't as boring as it sounds (though you can still argue that collecting horse sperm is more exciting). And, according to the article, it seems to be a job worth having. I could probably name quite a few others where you do much less.

QUOTE (Jinghao @ Jan 14 2009, 02:23 AM)
Wait... Economist isn't #1?

At a time like this?
*


Well, this covers all of 2008, the financial crisis only hit hard in later months. Plus, high demand for a job doesn't entail best job, at least not by their criteria.

Isn't economics kind of dependent on math anyway?
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Jan 14 2009, 08:09 AM (Post #12)
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OK, from that discription of the job, I think I could survive it. Not the most interesting job in the world, but there's worse. Parts of it actually sound really interesting. Traveling, giving lectures, that sort of thing is interesting.
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Jan 14 2009, 01:42 PM (Post #13)
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Not everyone can be a mathematician. Think of all the girls who fail calc 1.

Similarly, radiology isn't for everyone. Low hours, low stress, high pay; but getting into it is stressful.


14. Parole Officer

Hah.
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Jan 14 2009, 08:57 PM (Post #14)
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You're still deciding on a career, right? Didn't you major in discrete math, or something?
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Jan 14 2009, 10:35 PM (Post #15)
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Currently I'm a dual major with CS/DMA. but that can change. *shrug*
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