Employment for a mathematician?
August 8, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Job suggestions for a PhD mathematician wanting to leave academia and enter industry?

I'm looking for suggestions for different employment options for a PhD mathematician (research in geometry) with some graduate coursework in statistics. The mathematician in question has several years teaching experience at a liberal arts college but is interested in transitioning to a non-academic job. We've thought about jobs in biotechnology, but I was wondering what other ideas folks have. Bonus for jobs in the greater
philadelphia area.
posted by leahwrenn to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Something in the insurance industry? There's a number of big insurance companies in the Philly area.
posted by The Straightener at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2008

Also, if you're considering finance I know Susquehanna in Bala Cynwyd is big on quant types.
posted by The Straightener at 10:11 AM on August 8, 2008

Your friend could be a "quant" and help huge financial masters of the universe continue to rule the world. It's cool work and with a PhD in math, he or she should be golden (it would help if they had programming experience, but the teams often have programmers on staff).
posted by zpousman at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2008

Something in cryptography? Either at a company working on commercial products like DRM or authentication or at NSA? If you already worked for the govmint and know crypto then the nig consulting firms probably have something for you
posted by Barrows at 10:20 AM on August 8, 2008

Something in cryptography? Either at a company working on commercial products like DRM or authentication or at NSA? If you already worked for the govmint and know crypto then the big consulting firms probably have something for you
posted by Barrows at 10:22 AM on August 8, 2008

I know a statistician who works up numbers for sports broadcasting information--the stuff commentators want at their fingertips.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2008

Does he know anything about computers/software development? Computational geometry has some applications in the "real world".
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on August 8, 2008

Hard to say, since "geometry" and "statistics" are such incredibly broad fields. And, as you know, the further along you are the more specialized everyone around you tends to be.

So, taking the scattershot approach, here are some ideas off the top of my head:
  • Graphics and visualization? Entertainment or computer gaming?
  • Mathematical finance? Actuarial valuation?
  • Finite Element Analysis?
  • Operations research? Resource management? Supply-chain optimization?
Any one of these are very "math intensive", but very different from each other when you get down to the details.
posted by randomstriker at 10:57 AM on August 8, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions so far. The more specific ideas folks have, the better. (e.g., what sorts of jobs in finance or insurance?) Actuarial work probably isn't on the table, for what it's worth.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:58 AM on August 8, 2008

From Susquehanna's career section:

Title Quantitative Research Associates
Desired Location(s) Philadelphia Area

Job Summary Unprecedented growth and business expansion requires the addition of multiple Quantitative Research Associates covering a variety of asset classes. SIG's superior Quantitative Research Team works with traders and software engineers in the development, testing, and installation of pricing models and technical tools. As precise indicators of any security's "true" value, these highly complex models are the roadmap for SIG's daily trading activities.

Quantitative Research Associates apply their considerable mathematical skills in areas such as probability and statistics, stochastic processes, numerical analysis and optimization to the construction of models essential to trading derivatives. In addition, the research team has developed and implemented computer based trading systems that successfully execute sophisticated large-scale strategies independent of human interaction.


Required/Preferred Qualifications Ph.D. in mathematics, physics, statistics, computer science, electrical engineering or related fields

posted by The Straightener at 11:10 AM on August 8, 2008

leahwrenn you might want to check out Wilmott, which is sort of a magazine/forum/portal for quantitative finance. They also list jobs, and you'll usually see ads soliciting people like you, with large six figure incomes attached. I don't know how real those incomes are, I'm guessing they're optimistic figures.

There's a lot of big figures that post to Wilmott, it'll be a good source. My Life as a Quant by Derman details how he went from academia to make bagzillions for GS. Not the norm of course, but you're not the first to make the leap without any finance background.

I would highly suggest you check out Bacheliers' Theory of Speculation. It has the original thesis, and much more importantly, commentary about the modern finance from a mathematical perspective. It might lead you to believe that we wouldn't have finance without advanced mathematics, but that's a story for another day.

I would go on, but I'm in a bit of a rush. I'm sure others can answer what your day-to-day job would be like better than me. Peruse the Wilmott forums for some horror stories.
posted by geoff. at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2008

Early on in Travels with Charley, Steinbeck meets a former Mathematician who's become a farmer in Maine or somewhere like that. Steinbeck said he was the happiest person he'd ever met...
posted by Coventry at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2008

D.E. Shaw is a hedge fund in New York City which hires many Ph.D. mathematicians. Here's a thoughtful account by a mathematician who recently moved there from an academic job.
posted by escabeche at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2008

Work with finances.
posted by xammerboy at 12:58 PM on August 8, 2008

A friend of mine who just got her PhD in math from Princeton is leaving academia to work for this strategic consulting firm in the DC area. Apparently they're heavy on the quant stuff. Not Philly, but not too far....Closer to Philly, there seems to be a fair number of hedge funds located in Princeton.
posted by Shazbot at 12:58 PM on August 8, 2008

Google has lots of data. Some of it is really interesting.

Here is a job for a statistician at Google in Pittsburgh. It might fit. If you want to apply, feel free to message me.
posted by rrenaud at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2008

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