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Future prospects as a mathematician

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Hello, /adv/. I am currently a college student, attending my local community college. On paper, I am a Mathematics student. My question is what my prospects would be as a theoretical mathematician. As in, doing research daily, with a teaching job on the side. Would I be piss-poor or would I actually be making decent bank? The BLS says that mathematicians make pretty good money, but it defines mathematicians as anybody who uses mathematics to solve problems, so the scope is very large, and I don't know where the cutoff is. I know it's unlikely that I'll make a great living, but I need to know if it's enough to support myself. Otherwise, I will probably change my major to something more profitable, but still within the same scope (most likely some kind of engineering). Thank you very much.
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>>17948668
Hello OP. I've researched this a bit.

From what I've gathered you make a pretty coin, definitely more than the average person, but nothing worth bragging about with your fellow doctors/actuaries/statisticians.
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Well first off to do any actual math you need a PhD which means your BS plus another five or more years of school. And once you have your PhD it is very competitive to get a job, and very competitive to go from a crappy low paying postdoc position to a professor, and very competitive to go from an assistant professor with crap benefits and mediocre pay, to a full tenure track professor. So it's really, really hard to be a full time mathematician.

As far as the pay, you will be piss poor the entire time you are doing your PhD, middle class but not well off while doing postdocs, and not until you get a full professorship that your pay increases to respectable middle class income that you can raise a family on. But compared to something like being an actuary with just a bachelors, or getting a masters and doing finance, you would make much less money, it is not a lucrative career path.

If you just want to do math in school and have a good job, look into being an actuary, it is pretty difficult to get into the field, and you need to continue studying and passing really hard tests for most of your career to keep advancing, but it's an easy job and very high pay.
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>>17948668
>theoretical mathematician

forget this because you would already know if you have enough talent for that ie, you'd have been doing calculus back in grade school

otherwise this
>>17948691
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>>17948668 OP, this is a competitive field, only the best of us make it. The job market sucks these days, but if you are willing to expand your search parameters, you can get a research job if you are good enough (not necessarily genius, but really good). It is not something people do for money, the effort invested and payoff are disproportional. Yeah, full professors at top schools are deep into six figures (upto say $200000, depending on the school and personal incentives, or even more for the really top people), but you need to be a real gem to be worth it.

>>17948691 described it well, but keep in mind that there are other countries, teaching jobs at smaller universities which still allow you to spend some time on research, and other options. The good part is that your job is fun for as long as you live. Personally, I did okay, had some offers, but never liked the postdoc carousel, so when I got my PhD I just returned home to Europe. Okay, I am a bit nationalistic, so I never really considered a full time US job (never got offered a full professorship from Harvard, not sure I'd turn that down ;) ). These days I fly to the US to give lectures and for visiting positions every now and then.

When did you decide you'd like to do it? Did you participate in high school contests, or did you get interested at uni?
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>>17949768
I got interested at uni. I haven't taken any of the rigorous proof-based classes though, so I'm not sure how good I will be.
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>>17950308
Actually, I suppose I might as well elaborate on this. I didn't do well in mathematics for my first two years of high school. Junior and senior year, I did much better (among the best in my class). Perhaps I just got a swelled head, but I became interested in mathematics after that, and I started looking up more advanced stuff. Then I found out that all that advanced math is proof-based. I'm only now taking Linear Algebra, so my experience with proofs is minimal, and I don't know how well I will do.

And also, what did you mean by "the job is fun for as long as you live"? Is the job really that worth it?
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>>17950342
Same guy as above. Yep, it is worth it. You do something creative and every time it is different. There is bad math which is not much fun at all, but the real thing gets you higher than any drug. It is most fun you can have which doesn't involve sex.

As for making it, your odds are low, but let me tell you a story. My adviser is the recipient of many awards and way better than I could ever hope to become. The way he tells how he found math was like this: He decided Air Force was not for him so after he got honorably discharged and transferred to a civilian school, some university official who advises students looked at his resume from two years at the air force academy. This official was supposed to tell him which kind of engineering he should pick as his major. After looking at his credits, the official said "How about math? You passed a lot of math courses over there and would be well on your way to a major if you picked it". The rest is history.

You'd be competing against are more mundane dudes like me, who competed since the age of 10, were proving things rigorously since 13-14, won national competitions and IMO (Imternational Math Olympiad) medals, awards at university level, shit like that. But if you are really cut out for it, you can make up the lost time with enough work. It is fun kind of work, so that is why it is not hard to do. There are times when your hours are off the charts, but it is like playing games, you can't stop.
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