What can I do with my maths degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a mathematics degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research from an early stage
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Your study of mathematics will have developed an enviable set of specialist mathematical skills, complemented by many of the transferable skills that graduate employers tell us that they need, for example:

  • the ability to apply investigative and analytical skills to large datasets, identifying patterns and drawing conclusions
  • enhanced problem-solving abilities through routinely developing solutions to complex real-world and abstract problems throughout the course
  • the ability to visualise complicated physical situations as well as understanding the bigger picture in applied mathematics
  • confident in the use of information communication technology including Microsoft Excel for statistical analysis, modelling and optimisation and Microsoft Word to produce professional reports
  • conversant with the applications of mathematical software packages such as R and Python
  • effective verbal communication skills developed through group projects and regularly delivery oral and poster presentations
  • the ability to work collaboratively within a team through regular contribution to group projects and case studies
  • refined project and time management developed by organising and planning an academic workload as well as designing, developing and executing independent research projects.

Career options

Mathematics graduates can be found working in just about every industry however those popular with graduates include accountancy, banking, insurance, finance, education, health and other commercial and management careers. There are also rapidly-growing opportunities in the technology sector. Government departments such as the Office for National Statistics as well as the intelligence and security services such as GCHQ and MI5 are also eager to recruit mathematics graduates.

Statistics specialists are highly sought-after in a range of industries, notably pharmaceuticals and health, within the banking and financial sector as well as the Civil Service Office.

Education students attracted to teaching in primary and secondary schools might also be interested in teaching opportunities within further education colleges and adult education. They are also well-suited to educational outreach roles which can be found within Universities, museums (think Science Museum and the Big Bang!) and societies such as the British Science Association, the Institute of Physics and Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. With your love of the subject and ability to convey it to different audiences, you are well-placed to inspire the mathematicians and scientists of the future! Take a look at the TargetJobs Education Alternatives to explore the possibilities.

The Finance sector incorporates Accounting, Banking, Insurance, Investments and Pensions and Tax. The Prospects Accounting, Banking and Finance sector page provides an excellent, digestible overview of this the sector together with potential occupations to consider. Mathematics graduates, with their logical and analytical approach will fit in well but should be prepared for further study towards professional qualifications in areas such as the Accountancy and Actuarial professions.

Theoretical Physics graduates may be interested in research-based roles, developing new ideas and technologies within academia and government research facilities such as DSTL exploring areas as diverse as astronomy, optical engineering, defence, meteorology and nuclear medicine. Within industry, Research and Development teams continue to advance develop new technologies within telecommunications, materials, renewable energy, aerospace and automotive engineering.

Other fascinating possibilities include medical physics, meteorology, optical engineering, environmental consultancy, patenting and air traffic control!

Jobs directly related to your degree include:      

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Researching your career options  

With such a wide range of careers open to you a Mathematics graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.  Take a look at the Prospects, TargetJobs and other useful websites for inspiration:

Employment Opportunities

When surveyed six months after graduation, mathematics graduates across the UK 41% were engaged in employment as business, HR or finance professionals; 12% as Information Technology professionals; 9% classed themselves as education professionals while a further 6% were employed in clerical positions. 25% of graduates were continuing to study at postgraduate level to specialise further or pursue a career in research.

Here are some examples of what our mathematics graduates told us they were. Some of these roles serve as stepping stones to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience and a “foot in the door” with particular organisations.

  • assistant accountant
  • business development coordinator
  • business information analyst
  • business intelligence analyst
  • business operations management graduate
  • data analyst
  • data scientist
  • data translation technician
  • digital data analyst
  • digital marketing executive (analytics graduate scheme)
  • forecasting analyst
  • graduate research executive
  • graduate scientist statistician graduate scheme
  • graduate traffic engineer
  • graduate trainee underwriter
  • junior accountant
  • operational research consultant
  • pricing analyst at direct line group
  • pricing technician
  • primary maths teacher
  • research assistant in medical statistics
  • risk analyst
  • royal navy aircrew officer pilot
  • tax assistant
  • trainee chartered accountant
  • trainee financial planner
  • trainee performance information analyst
  • yield executive.

Employers

Further study

A large proportion of mathematics graduates continue their studies with Masters and professional qualifications such as teacher training while others embark upon a research career a PhD.

Teaching is popular and an ongoing shortage of mathematics teachers means there are currently attractive financial incentives to train, particularly if you have gained a good academic grade in your first degree. The national Get into Teaching website provides comprehensive information about the financial arrangements as well as teacher training options.

University of Plymouth graduates have gone on to study Artificial Intelligence, Pure Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence, Medical Statistics, Quantitative Finance, Risk Analysis, Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics and Operational Research.

The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options that may be of interest to mathematics graduates:

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a careers consultant about your particular situation.  

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme;  

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Research has shown that graduates that the three factors which were most important to achieving a positive outcome from your studies are:

  • getting work experience whilst at University
  • having a career plan on leaving University
  • making focused applications while studying.

So the message is to start your career planning early and get work experience.

Start early

You could therefore use your first year to explore different career options and try and different experiences to see what does and doesn’t appeal to you. You will then be a good position to make well-informed decisions in your second year and applying for work experience and preparing yourself to make informed decisions and high quality applications in your final year!

Gain work experience 

While your degree might be considered to be the key to unlocking employment doors it is your work experiences – and associated skills – that will help to push those doors open.

Part-time work will bring in much-needed money during your degree while enhancing your teamwork, time keeping, flexibility and customer service skills as well as increasing your commercial awareness and overall professional attitude.

Placements, be they year -long placement or summer internships can dramatically boost employment prospects; in some cases, placement employers either offer students a graduate role or fast-track them through the recruitment process.   Anecdotal evidence also suggests that students who have completed a placement significantly improve their academic performance in their final year leading to higher grades. Well worth thinking about!

Some of the employers that our maths students have secured placements with include;

  • BMW (UK) Ltd
  • Collins Aerospace
  • General Electric Medical Systems Ltd
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
  • Home Office
  • IQVIA
  • Leonardo
  • National Air Traffic Services
  • Office for National Statistics
  • Plymouth Community Homes
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Silhouette Software
  • Thames Water Utilities
  • Vocalink (a Mastercard company).

All of the mathematics programmes incorporate a placement year and/or work-based learning option and our Placements team will support you with identifying and applying for placements. You can research the opportunities with larger organisations on the specialist STEM careers website, Gradcracker. 

Summer placements are a great short-term option for students to gain a brief insight into an industry and working culture. In 2019, students took up the following summer placements:

  • accounts assistant at the local company JP Concrete Products Ltd
  • software developer at BAE Systems
  • statistician at the University of Maryland, Centre for Environmental Science
  • analyst in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), in the Homeland Security and Technical Analysis Team
  • data analyst in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Voluntary work is a great way to develop and enhance your professional skills and build confidence. You can also contribute an organisation or area that is important to you and make a real difference to the local community.   The University of Plymouth Students’ Union Volunteering team have excellent links with local organisations and promote opportunities at their Volunteers’ Fair and on their web pages.

Clubs & Societies    

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to mathematics such as MathsSoc or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.