You’ll Need Math For That! 13 More Seriously Cool Jobs That Need Math


It’s not all about science and math

One of the most common myths that kids believe, is that they can get away with not really knowing math if they don’t go into  science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) careers. In my post 10 Seriously Cool Careers That Need Math I highlighted some seriously cool jobs that need an advanced level of math, although most of these were STEM careers.

In my free Ebook 21 Seriously Cool Careers that Need Math, fashion and interior design made honorable appearances amongst the other STEM careers. So when I found that  author, Laura Laing regularly features interviews with people who use math in their jobs on her seriously cool website Math For Grownups, I was intrigued!

Not only are most of her interviewees in “non mathy” careers, but some even admit that they found math difficult at school!

So next time your child decides they won’t need math when they grow up – here’s 13 more seriously cool people that use math in their careers! Check out  Laura’s full interviews at the Math for Grownups links below.

1. The Photographer

Sally explains that math is integral to her photography work in many ways.

“An intuitive understanding of geometry is essential for good photographic composition. In addition, I use math to control exposure (the amount of light used to define a photograph) and to decide how to set up auxiliary lighting.”

Read more at about how a photographer uses math.

2. The Jewelry Artist

Shana contends with a variety of math problems, whether she’s measuring a piece or resizing a ring.

“I use wax to cast my designs, and so I have to convert the weight of wax into the the specific weight of the metal I am using. I also construct three-dimensional forms out of sheet metal, which requires some geometry. I have to know the sizes and weights of my pieces, so that they are not too heavy to be worn. When scoring and bending metal, I have to figure out the angle of my score lines in order to get the correct angle out of the sheet I am bending.”

Read more about how a jewelry artist uses math.

3. The Museum Curator

Ann calculates how much an acquisition fund might generate, given market levels.

“This allows us to secure funding for new purchases for our collection. I often assign accession numbers to complex objects like books, sketchbooks and portfolios.  A piece’s accession number is unique and follows a pattern that tells something about the piece, including when it was acquired and which collection it belongs to.”

Read more about how a museum curator uses math.

4. The Glass Artist

Ursula refers to specific formulas when doing a sculptural piece.

“When I put the glass in the kiln, at a certain point the heat will turn the glass from a solid into a liquid and, if I’ve made the correct calculations, it will fill a void that is in a plaster mold. I need to figure out the volume of the void so that I know how much glass, by weight, to use. This is one of several formulas that I have in a notebook which I refer to again and again.”

Read more about how a glass artist uses math.

5. The Painter

Samantha uses the most math at the beginning stages of a painting, when sketching thumbnail ideas.

“I use the rule of thirds to compose a more interesting picture. I use a variety of angles to draw the eye toward the focus of the picture and to lead the eye around the composition. I also use angles in drawing perspective when I am attempting to create depth in a two-dimensional space. (For example, the angle of a building is wider in the foreground and will go toward a vanishing point as the building retreats into the distance)”

Read more about how a painter uses math

6. The Career Coach

Kiki is a firm believer that math is part of just about everything we do. That means that she uses math in her job all the time.

“If I’m working with clients on an business, start-up, corporation or entertainment or creative project we work with budgets, time, financial parameters of a project.

If I’m working with clients on making a career transition we work on the mathematics of finances. How much more or less money will I be making? What kinds of financial sacrifices or changes will I make? If I’m going to be making more money, how will I manage that? Will I need a financial planner?”

Read more about how a career coach uses math.

7. The Budget Counselor

When people come to Jameel and ask her how to handle whatever problem they think they have with money, the first thing she does is create a spreadsheet with them.

“…then I can see a more accurate picture of really what’s going on with their day-to-day money.  Most people have a completely skewed idea about what’s going on with their money.  They base their day-to-day money decisions on feelings, superficial beliefs, and disorganization.”

Read more about how a budget counselor uses math.

8. The Professional Organizer

professional organizer

When someone has too much stuff to fit into their space, Janine has to figure out what percentage of their things they might need to part with in order to be able to store everything.

“So the client might agree that he or she needs to part with three of a particular type of item for every one kept, for example. When creating storage systems, I typically try to subdivide spaces using bins, so I use simple math to figure out how many bins will fit on a shelf.”

Read more about how professional organizers use math.

9. The Exercise Physiologist

Robert works a lot with percentages, particularly heart rate percents.

“Often, I put some raw data into a computer program to get those percentages. Other times it is on the fly with a calculator, always with a calculator. I work with percentages of heart rates for training goals or with disease management cases. I also work in terms of percentages of fat, to weight, and to muscle.”

Read more about how exercise physiologists use math

10. The FBI Profiler

When Mary and other profilers worked to solve a crime, she used every type of math from basic addition to geometry and pattern analysis to statistics and probability to reasoning and logic.

“…if I were working a serial murder case, I might study the age of the victims and the period of time that the crimes occurred to make a prediction about the killer’s age. Or my colleagues and I might place pins in a map to mark where all of the victims were last seen and where all of the bodies were found. We might use several different colored pins to then mark all of our suspects, tracing their movements and seeing what overlaps and what doesn’t.”

Read more about how FBI profilers use math

11. The Cookbook Author

parchment paper cookbook

Test recipes are much smaller than the ones Brette publishes in her cookbooks.

“…after testing a recipe, I have to convert the ingredient amounts for publication. This gets a little complicated when you’re dealing with teaspoons and tablespoons.  For example, if make a test recipe with 3 tablespoons of an ingredient and I want to quadruple that to make a full batch, I would multiply by 4 to get 12 tablespoons. But I have to express that as ¾ cup.”

Read more about how cookbook authors use math

12. The Fish Hatchery Technician

Graham uses basic math when he treats fish for parasites, using either salt or formalin.

“The salt baths depend on volume, so I find the volume of the tank in cubic feet and then multiply that by the number of gallons in a cubic foot–to get the total number of gallons to be treated. Then I have to multiply that by the number of pounds in a gallon of water to find the total number of pounds of water to be treated. Since we usually do a 5% salt bath, we find the number of pounds in 5% of the volume and weigh the salt.  Finally, we can mix the salt in the water”

Read more about how fish hatchery uses math

13. The Artisan Coffee Roaster

John the coffee roaster uses math to figure out how much coffee he needs to roast for his orders at his cafe.

“When coffee is roasted, it loses about 18% of its weight. I have to take that into account in my calculations. On my blends, I have to calculate proportions of coffees, whether it’s for a 12-ounce retail bag or a 5-pound bag for a restaurant. We also use math for brewing coffee – different brewing methods require different amounts of grounds and ratios to water.”

Read more about how coffee roasting uses math

Do you use math in your “non mathy” career? Tell me in the comments below!

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

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