Maths, like its good friend English, is a core subject at school, which we must all study at least up to GCSE level.
Most universities and employers will want you to have a grade 4+ in English and maths at GCSE, so, in 2013, the government announced that all students in England must now achieve this and keep on studying the subjects until they do.
But maths is so much more than just a compulsory subject – the career possibilities can be endless.
‘Why study maths? The career possibilities are endless’
Why study maths further?
It all comes down to what maths is.
Just as languages provide the building blocks and rules we need to communicate, maths uses its own language, made up of numbers, symbols and formulas, to explore the rules we need to measure or identify essential problems like distance, speed, time, space, change, force and quantities.
Studying maths helps us find patterns and structure in our lives. Practically, maths helps us put a price on things, create graphics , build websites, build skyscrapers and generally understand how things work or predict how they might change over time and under different conditions.
Maths lets us predict the future
For example, if I want to throw a custard pie so it lands on top of your head on a very windy day, studying the maths can help me work out the speed, force and angle I need to throw it to hit just the right spot. Or, more helpfully, maths helps me work out how long it will take me to get somewhere if I know the distance I have to travel and the speed I’m going.
In this sense, studying maths helps predict the future…
Maths is changing all the time – what will you contribute?
But it doesn’t stop there. As a subject, maths is also continually growing and changing, as mathematicians and scientists expand on what they already know to discover new theories and inventions.
Now mathematicians and philosophers have debated for centuries the exact definition of maths so we can’t claim to have nailed it ourselves. But we just wanted you to get the sense that there’s more to it than long division…
What skills will I get if I study maths?
Maths is one of the best subjects to develop your analytical, research and problem-solving skills. Not only will studying maths help give you the knowledge to tackle scientific, mechanical, coding and abstract problems, it will also help you develop logic to tackle everyday issues like planning projects, managing budgets and even debating effectively.
What careers is maths good for?
People with maths degrees and other qualifications can go into: accounting, medicine, engineering, forensic pathology, finance, business, consultancy, teaching, IT, games development, scientific research, programming, the civil service, design, construction and astrophysics to name a few. Specific job roles include actuary, business analyst, software engineer, technology analyst, information engineer, speech technology researcher, and maths teacher.
Jobs in the mathematical sciences – that is, careers that studying maths at university prepares you for directly – tend to be very well paid. The combination of a skills shortage and a growing need for maths skills means more and more employers are on the look out for maths graduates.
About a quarter tend to go on to further study, while well over half end up in full-time or part-time work, or do a mixture of work and study. Only 7 in 100 maths graduates are unemployed 6 months after graduating.