Education and Training Requirements

High School

To pursue a career as a mathematician, take all the math classes that are offered and can fit into your schedule. Meet with teachers to get as much insight as you can about doing well in the math courses offered at your school. These courses should include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. If your school offers college prep courses, you may be able to study probability, statistics, and logic. Classes such as English composition and computer science are also important.

Postsecondary Training

Undergraduate mathematical study includes work in algebra, geometry, numerical analysis, topology, and statistics. Typical university courses include differential equations, linear and abstract algebra, mathematical analysis, probability theory and statistics, discrete mathematics, and mathematical logic. In addition to these and other courses from which you may choose as a math major, you should also sample broadly in the humanities and the various social, physical, and life sciences.

With the exception of secondary school teaching and working for the federal government, the educational requirement for this profession is a doctoral degree in mathematics. A doctorate is necessary for most research and development positions as well as for college-level teaching. Many colleges and universities offer a master's degree in mathematics, and many also offer a Ph.D. in pure or applied mathematics. The American Mathematical Society offers a directory of colleges and universities that lists programs in the mathematical sciences at

Many colleges and universities require that if you major in math, you must also take classes in another area related to math, such as computer science, engineering, physical science, or economics.

Other Education or Training

Continuing education opportunities are provided by the American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, Association for Women in Mathematics, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, Mathematical Association of America, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

If you're interested in teaching math in a public elementary or high school, you must be licensed. However, you usually do not need a license to teach in a private school. Requirements vary from state to state, although all states require that you have at least a bachelor's degree and have finished an approved teacher training program.

Government positions usually require that applicants take a civil service examination in addition to meeting certain specified requirements that vary according to the type and level of position.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

A solid background in mathematics, computer science, physics, and statistics will be helpful for aspiring mathematicians. To be a mathematician requires abilities in abstract reasoning, analyzing, and interpreting mathematical ideas. Speed and accuracy with numbers are necessary skills, too. Finally, communication skills are important because you will often need to interact with others, many of whom may not have an extensive knowledge of mathematics.