Career futures: math, coding, and data

Writing on a chalkboard.

So you’re interested in math, finance, statistics, or computers? That’s great! The world needs more people like you.

Mathematics and computer science are at the heart of so many things we touch on a day-to-day basis. Math works behind the scenes. It makes mobile networks function, secures financial systems and transactions, provides the basis for software languages, and much, much more.

Over the next 30 years, things are going to change more rapidly than ever before. Having a degree in math, computer science, or statistics can help you make an impact in evolving industries, technologies, and society.

Let’s take a look at some of the trends and technologies where a degree in math or computer science will be needed.


Contents

  • Industry trends: how do changes in our world impact what's happening in this field?
  • Future careers: what jobs in this industry will a degree prepare you for?
  • Programs to consider: what undergraduate programs does Waterloo offer related to this field?

cryptocurrency iconSecurity and privacy rely on math to make sure financial transactions and personal information are safe. In fact, cryptographic schemes often start as pure math problems.
artificial Intelligence iconAn education that includes math and/or computer science can help you get ahead in an AI-driven world. AI may create up to 133 million new (high-paying) jobs by 2022.
Data scientist iconThe amount of data created by people, things, transactions, governments, and companies every day equals 2.5 quintillion bytes!

Industry trends

In the money

Numbers and technology are at heart of many careers in finance and insurance. While demand for accountants and actuaries will continue to be high, their roles will change. As computers become more sophisticated, there’s more data, and global markets are more active. Companies will need to increase their ability to use data to make sound business decisions. They’ll have to embrace Artificial Intelligence. So they’re going to need grads who understand how math and technology affect business, what the numbers mean, and what to do about it.

What about new money?

Cryptocurrencies are virtual: they’re traded and have value online, and predicted to have huge impact. All trades (e.g., buy or sell) of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, are recorded on the blockchain. Blockchain is basically a cybersecure accounting ledger, and it’s at the intersection of math and computers. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are new, so companies (even banks) don’t know quite what to do with it, and that’s where you come in. You could help develop the technology, refine the background AI and algorithms, apply it to specific industries such as finance, entertainment, and energy, or make it more secure.

A lock with a dollar sign on it.

Cybersecurity

Security and privacy rely on math to make sure financial transactions and personal information are safe. In fact, cryptographic schemes often start as pure math problems. For instance, the current standard for cybersecurity is based on elliptical curves, which was used to generate encryption keys by researchers in a branch of fundamental math called combinatorics and optimization.

As computers get faster and more powerful, and hackers try to breach security, new cryptographic models will have to be developed. It’s your opportunity to work on the fundamental math and models that will create the algorithms (math-based, computer-coded instructions) to implement better security and privacy.

A symbol of a robotic hand.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is a big one! Everyone talks about AI, but not everyone understands that there’s more to it than robots. AI will be in our vehicles. It will help us analyze stock market trends. It will help machines help people. It will help support those living with dementia, and teach us more about our own biology.

An education that includes math and/or computer science can help you get ahead in an AI-driven world. As a math grad, you’d be involved in developing the mathematical models and algorithms needed to analyze data, and drive AI decision-making and machine learning. Most importantly, AI may create up to 133 million new (high-paying) jobs by 2022!

 

A data icon.

Analyze this

Data, data, data. Computers and sensors collect tonnes of data every day from satellites, smartphones, cars, and even grizzly bears. The amount of data created by people, things, transactions, governments, and companies every day equals 2.5 quintillion bytes! That amount is growing exponentially and there aren’t enough people who know how to use it.

Math, statistics, and computer science grads will help makes sense of all that information with titles like data scientist, actuary, researcher, or privacy specialist. They will help find patterns, design optimal solutions to real-world problems using models and algorithms, and uncover important cause-and-effect relationships in everything from the spread of infectious disease to saving whales! Those insights give people, governments, and companies the information needed to make good decisions, or make a difference in people’s lives.

A medical symbol.

Math + medicine

The field of medicine is changing as big data, AI, new technology, and new systems disrupt traditional healthcare, medical technologies, and medicine. Math helps medical professionals predict the evolution of cancer cells, provide safer tests for medications, operate with better plans, or even help to diagnose autism.

Grads with degrees in applied mathematics, computer science, data science, bioinformatics, and biostatistics can pursue careers in the health-related fields, and help people live healthier lives.

Student working on a math problem.

All about research

As a mathematician or computer scientist, your career might be dedicated to research. This kind of work is about discovery and the next frontier. About diving deeply into fundamental concepts – the building blocks that inform all other models and system.

As a researcher, you might study an irrational, infinite number like Pi, and work towards greater understand of how it relates to natural phenomena. Or perhaps optimization and geometry are more your thing. Maybe you’ll work with interdisciplinary teams to advance the study quantum cryptography. Maybe you’ll become fascinated by million-dollar math prizes. It depends what you’re passionate about.

What’s next?

A math degree can set you up for a great career, because it’s a good foundation for many different jobs in all kinds of industries, and it’s relevant for many of the technologies and trends shaping the world of work. That’s good news. It means that your love of math and computing will give you a lot of options – not only with what you study, but how and where you apply what you learn.

2 math students studying together.

Meeting the challenge

Your education needs to meet the challenges of changes in technology, society, and the world of work. The University of Waterloo works hard to make sure your education meets those needs, and prepares you for a successful career in your chosen field.

Use your love of math, code, and data to better the future in one of these programs