Mathematicians usually have at least a master's degree in mathematics and a highly-developed understanding of advanced math principles. Theoretical mathematicians conduct research that advances the basic understanding of mathematical principles, and may also teach at the postsecondary level. Applied mathematicians use high-level mathematical principles to solve problems in science, engineering and other fields.
National Salary Statistics:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mathematicians working in the United States earned an average annual salary of $101,320 as of May 2011, which represents an approximate hourly wage of $48.71. Half of all mathematicians reported annual incomes of between $70,960 and $122,760 per year. On the extreme ends of the payscale, the lowest-earning 10 percent of mathematicians reported annual salaries of $55,680 or below, while the highest-paid 10 percent of mathematicians earned $152,140 or more per year.
Pay by Employment Sector:
Mathematicians working for scientific research and development services reported higher average earnings than those working in any other employment sector, $117,970 per year as of May 2011. Those working in computer systems design and related services reported the second-highest average income, $113,930 per year. Approximately one third of all working mathematicians were employed by the federal government as of 2011 and averaged income of $106,020 per year. Mathematicians employed in colleges and universities tended to earn the lowest compensation for this occupation, an average of $75,760 per year.
Pay by Area:
High-paying jobs for mathematicians were scattered throughout the country as of 2011, with New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia ranking as the three states with the highest average salaries. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area of Illinois reported the highest average salary of any area in the United States, $151,960 per year. Those employed in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area averaged $133,080 per year. Of states reporting salary statistics for mathematicians, those in Missouri earned the least, an average of $56,790 per year.
As of 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 3,100 mathematicians were employed in the United States, a figure expected to rise to around 3,600 by 2020. Because there are relatively few jobs in mathematics, competition for positions in the private and public spheres is expected to be strong, as is competition for teaching positions. The BLS expects that mathematicians with a background in a discipline such as engineering, physics or computer science will have the best job prospects.