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A Head for Figures: Working in the Financial Industry

When you’re at school there are some lessons you love, and some that you detest. A lot of people can’t wait for PE so they can get out of the classroom and have a run-around, while others may look forward to the days when they can experiment with blowing things up in Chemistry class. Math, however, is one of those lessons that goes either way – you either really enjoy complex equations, or you hate them and you’d rather be doing ANYTHING else.

Jobs that Use MathThere are a variety of careers that require all types of math from theoretical math to applied math to simple arithmetic. The finance industry generally requires “applied math” rather than more complex theoretical math or even Calculus. The major exceptions would be Actuaries, Economists and Statisticians which might require higher levels of math.


Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur and to help businesses (generally insurance companies) develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Employment of actuaries in the insurance industry is expected to grow by 25 percent because actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks.


Economists often study historical trends and use them to make forecasts. More than half of all economists work for the government. Federal government economists collect and analyze data about the U.S. economy. They also project spending needs and inform policy makers on the economic impact of laws and regulations. Some economists work for corporations to help them understand how the economy will affect their business. Specifically, economists may analyze issues such as consumer demand and sales to help a company maximize its profits.     According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of economists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.


Statisticians develop survey questionnaires, explain the limitations of the data to prevent inaccurate conclusions from being drawn, and they identify trends and relationships. They work in many fields, such as education, marketing, psychology, and sports: any field that requires collection and analysis of large amounts of data. Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

But there are a number of other jobs in the finance industry requiring math skills. But is the finance industry a good place to look for a job in the current recession?

A Career in Finance?

While there might be upturns and downturns in the financial industry, those with a head for figures are still looking on sites like JobsToday for a career in which they can use their skills in and passion for mathematics. It’s a common misconception that a career in Finance means you’re restricted to working in a bank. Far from it! There are all kinds of careers that can utilize your skills with figures, and the financial sector is developing into one of the most popular (despite the economic climate!)

As with a lot of popular industries, financial positions are often hard to come by with skilled and qualified candidates – just like you – all vying for the limited positions. However, getting into a position you’re passionate about can be worth the perseverance, it’s just a case of finding the right place in the industry and ensuring that you have all of the necessary skills, qualifications and attributes.


All businesses have accounting departments, even if they’re not “in house.” Someone is working behind the scenes on things such as employee salaries, bonuses and incentives; while they could also be in regular contact with customers and clients to chase outstanding payments and handle any invoices. Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Stock Broker

Working in a stressful stock market might not sound like fun for some people, but those who enjoy working under pressure and being tasked with making some of the biggest decisions a company can make can thrive. Generally, those who move into this industry are educated at degree level in subjects such as economics or finance, giving them the advantages they need to hit the ground running and understand every aspect of the industry. Employment of Stock Brokers is expected to grow 15 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Risk Management/Financial Analysts

A lot of companies sit down and think about their next big investment or their next product release, and those involved in the decision making process often don’t have any formal training in financial risk management meaning that they don’t see some of the potential underlying problems associated with an investment. Alternatively, you could be in a position to advise them on when to buy and sell any stock they’re interested or involved in before prices rocket or plummet. Employment of financial analysts is expected to grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

Other Careers that Require Math

Insurance Underwriters

Insurance Underwriters are similar to actuaries but often deal individual insurance applicants. Insurance underwriters decide whether to provide insurance and under what terms. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums. Employment of underwriters is expected to increase 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. New types of automated underwriting software allow workers to process applications more quickly than before, reducing the need for underwriters.

Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Although they are involved in face to face selling they have to be good with math. Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 11 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. An agent explains various insurance policies and helps clients choose plans that suit them. Employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

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