Math and science are pillars of modern education, and most careers grounded in these disciplines require more than a high school diploma. Rigorous higher education is necessary for workers to learn the skills and techniques to be on the cutting edge of math and science. Careers that make heavy use of advanced mathematics and science tend to require a bachelor's degree at the minimum, and many positions require advanced degrees.
Physicists are scientists who study the physical properties of the universe, such as gravity, motion, light and atoms. Physicists are at the forefront of many discoveries that advance human understanding about how the universe works. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that physicists earned $112,090 a year on average in May 2011. The top 25 percent of physicists earned more than $138,600 a year and the bottom quarter earned less than $79,260 a year. About a third of physicists worked for private companies involved in scientific research and development, 20 percent worked for the federal government, and 16 percent worked for colleges, universities and professional schools, according to the BLS.
Astronomers make heavy use of scientific principles and mathematics to study heavenly bodies and astronomical phenomena. Their work may revolve around research into stars, comets, black holes and supernovae. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that astronomers earned $101,630 a year on average in 2011. Workers in the top quarter of the pay scale made more than $143,340 a year and workers in the bottom quarter earned less than $61,020 a year. Fifty-three percent of astronomers worked for colleges, universities and professional schools; 23 percent worked for the federal government; and 22 percent worked for other organizations involved in scientific research and development, the BLS says.
Professional mathematicians use advanced mathematical techniques to solve real world problems in science, business, engineering and other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 37 percent of mathematicians worked for the federal government in May 2011; 26 percent were engaged in private scientific research and development; and 16 percent worked for colleges, universities and professional schools. Eight percent of workers in the occupation provided scientific and technical consulting services to businesses. Mathematicians earned $101,320 a year on average, which translates to an average wage of $48.71 an hour. Mathematicians in the top 25 percent earned more than $122,760 a year and workers in the bottom 10 percent made less than $70,960 a year.
Statisticians collect and interpret data using mathematical techniques to gain insight into real world events. Statistics are used heavily in scientific research, business and economics. The top employers of statisticians include the federal government, insurance carriers, state governments and private research organizations. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that statisticians earned $77,280 a year on average in 2011. Workers in the top 25 percent made more than $97,410 a year and workers in the bottom 10 percent made less than $52,330 a year. Statisticians earned an average hourly wage of $35.52.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 19-2012 Physicists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 19-2011 Astronomers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mathematicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 15-2021 Mathematicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Statisticians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 15-2041 Statisticians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physicists and Astronomers
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