Many people told me it is much more easier for an applied/computational mathematician to find a job in U.S. than a pure mathematician. I believe that it is largely due to the fact that applied/computational mathematicians have many advantages in finding jobs in industry. I wonder if this is still the case in academia, in particular research-oriented schools. Well, at least in the department I am studying at, most postdocs and newly-hired assistant professors are doing applied\computational math or potentially applicable math.

Specifically, Is it generally easier to find a job in research-oriented schools (regardless of ranking) if one works in applied math rather than pure math? (I naively believe that there is no special advantages for applied mathematicians to apply for a job in teaching-oriented schools. Please let me know if I am not right)

To avoid the tag that "this question strongly depends on individual factors", I want to clarify the words "generally easier". I want to know whether or not most research-oriented math departments (specifically refer to those with both pure and applied mathematicians. I know in some universities, pure math and applied math belong to different departments) are more interested in hiring applied/computational mathematicians as postdocs/APs and the reasons behind it.

Answers based on personal experience and objective evidence/statistics are both welcome here!

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    – eykanal
    Apr 4, 2019 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


You can answer your question yourself with a bit of work. The American Mathematical Society has a job page for recent Ph.D.s. You can use it for free.

From the inside of a (now disjointed) Math and Computer Science Department, it looks like Deans are much more interested in applied mathematics as they hope for attracting outside funding and NSF grants. But this is just anecdotal information.


Choose the odd one out: a pizza delivery guy, an engineer, a Walmart cashier and theoretical mathematician. The answer is theoretical mathematician because the other three can feed a family of three.

Granted the above is just a joke but whenever you've got a choice between theoretical and applied math, the choice should be the latter at least from the perspective of career benefits.

Now to be specific to your question: I would say that, all things being equal (which they rarely are), applied math still retains its job advantage over theory even in academia. Both aren't resource-intensive: all you need is pen, paper and a decent computer to do research. However, there will probably be more funded projects available and more opportunities for inter-disciplinary research in applied math. Companies and institutions really want to be able to model and simulate complex phenomena and are eager to sponsor and collaborate on that sort of research.

Specifically, in my field (reacting flows), mathematical modeling and accurate simulations save a lot of money and time that would have otherwise been wasted building prototypes and conducting numerous trial-and-error experiments. So, people in the field collaborate with applied physics and math folks all the time. |

Disclaimer: My field is not math and I'm hazarding a guess.

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