Perhaps the following scenario rings a bell: you have just spent the past 25 minutes going over with your class the finer points of the distributive property, and you ask the class if there are any questions. A student raises her hand, stares you down and asks, “Am I ever going to need this in my life or anything?”
This may not have happened to you personally, but it has happened to countless other teachers (and parents during homework). Students are so focused on the end result of their education that they fail to see how vital each part of it truly is. And with math, which is a structure which builds on itself, they really can be impatient while waiting for the “payoff” of “where is this road going to lead me?”
One way to answer their concern is to assure them that math, indeed, will help them later in life. How? Because math is used in many of the careers they aspire to and are planning to pursue. Hopefully, this notion will pique their interest, but even if they are skeptical, you can go on to provide them with the following examples of professions which rely on math as one of their day-to-day tools to get their jobs done:
- Chef/Cook/Baker: People who prepare food use a lot of math, actually. When following recipes there are fractions involved, especially when customizing the servings; there is physical measuring of dough and other ingredients; and there is other math used as well.
- Mechanic: I’m not even going to try to fake my way around car math. I just know that mechanics need to know mathematical things, like pounds per square inch and torque.
- Carpenter/Contractor: Anybody who builds anything uses math. Lots of it. Building things is not done by eye; that geometry that seemed so irrelevant does have a purpose somewhere.
- Seamstress/Tailor/Clothing Designer: People who create clothing do not escape math. They are using it when they are working with measurements as well as cloth.
- Truck Driver: Truck Drivers need to know weights, heights, and remember those annoying word problems where “Bill left Chicago at 6:00 going 55 miles per hour and had to be in New York by 3:00…”? This is reality for the truck driver. They have to figure out this formula constantly so they can be where they are supposed to be on time.
- Farmer: The farmer has to use all the math skills listed above because the farmer does basically a bit of everything. Plus, planning where crops are planted and countless other math applications.
- Teachers: Well, of course teachers teach math, but teachers also need math in several other ways. Figuring out grades and averages, even with a calculator, takes math. Multiplying and dividing books, papers, supplies, etc. by number of students, scoring assessments, scheduling, the list goes on.
Hopefully, this list helps you and your students to realize that practically every profession utilizes math in some way or another. Perhaps you are inspired to continue this list with other professions you can imagine using math? It can be a great motivator to know that learning math will matter!
Comment below and add to the list of jobs/Professions that involve math!
Mathematics at Work:
30 Professions Where Math is a Daily Tool
Mathematics, often perceived as an abstract subject, is used every day in a variety of professions. By appreciating its ubiquitous application, students can understand the practical relevance of the mathematical concepts they learn. This article provides 30 professions that employ mathematics daily, providing a comprehensive perspective on how the subject can shape careers.
- Architect: Architects use geometry and trigonometry to create structurally sound designs. The use of ratios and scales is also fundamental in drafting blueprints and 3D modeling.
- Engineer: Engineering disciplines, including civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical, involve the use of calculus, algebra, and physics in their day-to-day operations. Whether it’s calculating load capacity or designing electrical circuits, math is integral to the job.
- Statistician: As experts in data analysis, statisticians use mathematical techniques to draw insights from large datasets. They perform probability calculations, regression analysis, and hypothesis testing regularly.
- Economist: Economists use algebraic equations, statistics, and calculus to forecast economic trends, analyze financial data, and guide policy decisions.
- Banker: Financial services professionals use math to calculate interest, understand financial risk, and offer investment advice. The understanding of numbers and percentages is crucial in this role.
- Accountant: Accountants are experts in financial mathematics. They use it to perform tasks such as auditing financial statements, calculating taxes, and assessing financial risk.
- Surveyor: Surveyors use trigonometry, geometry, and algebra to measure land accurately. They determine boundaries for property lines and help plan construction projects.
- Pharmacist: Pharmacists use ratios, fractions, and percentages to measure and dispense medications accurately. They also use statistics for patient safety and quality assurance processes.
- Nurse: Nurses employ mathematical knowledge for tasks like calculating medication dosages, interpreting vital signs, and measuring fluid intake/output.
- Physicist: From using calculus to understand motion to leveraging probability theory in quantum physics, math is at the core of a physicist’s work.
- Software Developer: Developers use logic and algebra in coding and creating algorithms. Moreover, complex fields such as machine learning and data science require an understanding of calculus and statistics.
- Cryptographer: Cryptographers use number theory and complex algorithms to secure information. Their work forms the basis for secure communication in the digital age.
- Data Analyst: Data analysts use statistics and probability to extract insights from large data sets. They employ data visualization techniques which also involve a good understanding of proportions and ratios.
- Meteorologist: Weather forecasters use mathematical models to predict future weather patterns. They also use statistics to evaluate the accuracy of their predictions.
- Astronomer: Astronomers use math to calculate distances and sizes of celestial bodies, understand their motions, and make predictions about astronomical events.
- Pilot: Pilots use math for navigation, calculating fuel requirements, estimating arrival times, and interpreting instrument readings.
- Investment Analyst: These professionals use mathematical modeling and forecasting to guide investment decisions and assess financial risk.
- Marine Biologist: From calculating biodiversity indices to interpreting statistical models of marine ecosystems, marine biologists regularly use math.
- Ecologist: Ecologists employ math in population modeling, calculating biodiversity, and understanding the dynamics of ecosystems.
- Real Estate Agent: Realtors use percentages to calculate commission, understand interest rates for mortgages, and compare property values.
- Graphic Designer: Graphic designers use geometry, proportions, and ratios to create visually appealing designs and layouts.
- Musician: Musicians apply math in understanding time signatures, rhythm, and scales. This aids in composing and playing music.
- Photographer: Photographers use math to calculate depth of field, shutter speed, and exposure. Understanding ratios and fractions also aids in editing photos.
- Actuary: Actuaries use probabilities, statistics, and financial mathematics to predict and manage risk in the insurance and finance industries.
- Forensic Analyst: Forensic analysts use mathematical models and statistical techniques to reconstruct crime scenes and analyze evidence.
- Quantitative Analyst (Quant): Quants use mathematical and statistical models to understand and predict market movements, often working in finance and investment sectors.
- Geologist: Geologists use mathematical modeling and statistics to understand the Earth’s structure, interpret seismic data, and predict natural hazards.
- Logistician: Professionals in logistics use math to optimize routes, manage inventory, and predict demand.
- Aircraft Dispatcher: Dispatchers use math to calculate fuel requirements, determine flight paths, and schedule flights, ensuring efficient and safe operations.
- Urban Planner: Urban planners use mathematical models and statistical techniques to forecast population growth, assess infrastructure needs, and guide land use planning.
These professions reveal that math is not an isolated subject confined to classrooms but a practical tool used in numerous job sectors. The key takeaway for students should be that math can open the door to a multitude of fascinating career paths, making it not only necessary but also profoundly beneficial to grasp.
Knowing that math can help us predict weather patterns, optimize logistics, secure information, design buildings, and much more, should make the subject more engaging and relatable. The “payoff” of learning math might not always be immediately evident, but it can certainly lead to intriguing and rewarding career paths. So, next time you’re faced with a challenging math problem, remember that it’s not just an exercise in mental gymnastics—it’s a skill that many professionals rely on every single day.