One common question posed to math teachers is, “when am I ever going to use this?” Although knowing how to create a budget or calculate loan payments are extremely useful skills, it’s true that not many adults use logarithmic formulas on a daily basis. However, many well-paying jobs require advanced math skills.
Math teachers can give an unexpected reply to that common question by telling students about the prestigious fields that people who excel at math might enter. Here are five “cool” careers that require an advanced mathematical skill set.
Whether teachers are talking to fourth graders or high school seniors, a career as an astronaut is seriously cool. Astronauts use math in nearly every aspect of a flight mission. Orbit curvature, re-entrance angles, adjustments in speed, temperature calculations, time frames, windows of opportunity, margins of error… everything about space travel screams, “you have to know how to do math!”
There’s something about the clandestine world of code breaking that draws the attention of children and young adults. Few ideas capture the imagination of students like the notion of being a spy and the idea of saving the world by thwarting the enemy’s secret plan. A cryptanalyst makes numbers a game of life and death, and mathematics is the key that unlocks the mystery.
If a child can learn to do math — and do it well — they have the opportunity to do field work rather than spend thirty years in an office behind a computer. Surveying to design a fish ladder, designing underpasses for migrating big game, engineering water parks, building sailboats and custom dories — each of these math-centric professions presents an opportunity to work hands-on and outside.
Have a classroom full of kids that seem to spend every second of their spare time gaming online? Most kids would be surprised at exactly how much the software they use requires some form of advanced math: calculus, geometry, linear algebra, and statistics are just the basics requisites for developing software and games. The more advanced the game, the more advanced the math required to design it.
Fashion designers use area, diameter, perimeter and algorithms to create aesthetically pleasing designs. Drafting is a skill that requires as much mathematical acuity as it does artistic talent, especially when the vast majority of the designs are created using the same software architects use to design bridges and museums.