I'm doing MSc in Mathematics with major in Geometry and Topology (combinatorial problems in knots theory). My previous degree is BSc in Physics. As for future plans I would be glad to do a PhD in Mathematics in the USA (I'm not the USA citizen or resident now) because I just enjoy doing research in my topic, but probably don't keep in mind working in academia after obtaining PhD degree because of:

  • I simply don't like teaching due to my experience as a teaching assistent (TA is a part of my MSc program). Some guys really enjoy it but I don't.
  • I have heard that nowadays getting even a postdoc position is a hard challenge, there are too many PhDs for too little positions in universities.

So I think about working in industry after completing PhD. Web-search brings me to the conclusion that main paths for non-academic mathematicians are:

  • Quantitative finance (working in investment banks and hedge-funds or somewhere else in finance)
  • IT (software developers)
  • a few number of R&D labs in big corporations also related with IT or finance

So my questions are:

  1. Does the math degree really cost something on a job market outside the academia or should I believe to those who said that such people are overqualified for industry jobs? Of course I understand that nobody interested in pure theories if it can't help making money and industry work should be applied for real solutions of real problems.

  2. Do finance and IT firms really ready to hire people with lack of knowledge in profile areas? It seems rather obvious to me that an average math graduate code worse than CS one (even if we compare PhD with BSc experience!) and know really nothing about economics. As for me, I'm able to code something routine on C and C++, bash (as an experienced GNU/Linux user) and Wolfram Mathematica, but know nothing about big data analysis, machine learning and so on.

  3. Does my major matter if it's not Probability and Statistics? I have heard that people with Probability and Statistics topics preferable for finance quant jobs so should major in another area close doors for me (remind that my research interests are combinatorics, topology and knots theory)?

  4. In this thread I have read that

For example, if your work involved probability/statistics, or even certain kinds of topology, you could get a job at pretty much any tech company doing machine learning.

Can anyone explain more carefully what kind of work is related with topology in tech companies?

For conclusion let me say that I desire get a PhD because I have all necessary background in mathematics and really enjoying research, my supervisor is pleased with my activity, but an academic position in a future with teaching classes and reading lectures seems not like my cup of tea. I would be glad to be a research mathematician, but as far as I know salaries in academia correspond to teaching hours and if I deny teaching at all my salary will become really pure especially when comparing with industry opportunities.

P.S. Sorry for my English if there are any mistakes.

  • I think these are some excellent questions to be thinking about and asking about (and your English is fully understandable), unfortunately your questions are off topic for this SE site. Your best bet would be to get some advice from companies/employees in your area, to search around for jobs you would be interested and look at their qualifications, etc.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 8, 2017 at 22:40
  • Yes, now I have read SE Academia rules and see that it is offtopic. Should I just delete it as an author?
    – Hasek
    Feb 9, 2017 at 10:34


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