Writing on a chalkboard.

King warrior Written by special contributor 

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 — and math grads will be a big part of that change. High-paying jobs that involve math are projected to grow at a rate of 30 per cent over the next decade alone. Having a degree in math, computer science, or statistics can help you make an impact in evolving industries, technologies, and society. A specialized program, minor, or double major can help you target the field you’re most passionate about.

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


Industry trends: high paying jobs that involve math

Math student looking at graphs and charts on a tablet

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 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.

Math student with a laptop in hands

Cybersecurity and privacy

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. And the rise of the Internet of Things opens up whole new levels of security risk. In this field, you’ll work on the fundamental math and models that will create the algorithms (math-based, computer-coded instructions) to implement better security and privacy.


Math student on a laptop

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This is a big one! Everyone talks about AI, but not everyone understands that there’s more to AI 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.

Math student solving equations on a chalkboard

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 help makes sense of all that information with titles like data scientist, actuary, researcher, or privacy specialist. They help find patterns, design optimal solutions to real-world problems using models and algorithms, and uncover important cause-and-effect relationships in everything from passing the puck in hockey to 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.


Math student in a lab writing in a notebook

Math + medicine

The field of medicine is changing as big data, AI, new technology, and new systems disrupt traditional healthcare, medical technologies, and medicine. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed governments around the world to grow and improve health data collection and analysis. Math helps medical professionals understand substance abuse, target best applications for medications, target cancerous tumours with ultrasound, or even help to diagnose autism..

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

Math student writing in notebook

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 systems.

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. What are you passionate about?


Skills for math careers of the future

Your love of math and computing gives you a lot of options – not only with what you study, but also with your role and your chosen industry: how and where you apply what you learn. Waterloo’s co-op program gives you the opportunity to test out a job or industry before you graduate, while earning money and building professional connections. Here are some transferable skills that will help math grads build successful careers:

  • Analytical skills. These might include using complex reasoning; seeing patterns; assessing complex problems; constructing logical arguments; organizing data.
  • Problem solving skills. Math grads should be able to define problems clearly; understand context; take different points of view; break down a big problem into smaller questions or steps.
  • Collaborative skills. Whether you’re in finance or academia, careers in math involve teamwork and collaboration. Clear communication skills (including listening and writing) will help you advance in any field. 

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.

 2 math students studying together.

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

Here are some degrees to explore, listed with a handful of possible job titles for graduates. Worth noting: for some of these careers, a range of different math-related degrees could be your first step; some may require additional training or an advanced degree. If that’s part of your plan, Waterloo’s Centre for Career Development has dedicated advisors who support students all the way through the graduate program application process. The best degree to pursue is the one that excites you the most!


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