Math in careers

My chemistry class started a discussion a few days ago on math in careers. It would seem that most of the class (the ten girls–all four guys are on a FIRST team and three of them are on CD) does not like math and would like to choose a career where math is not used. The teacher dealt with several careers, but I would like to go farther and show that most, if not all careers involve math in some way.

Here is my request: I want a career, not necessarily engineering/science related, and what math is used. I particularly want careers that require a college degree, or that you would not think of as having math involved. (e.g. lawyer, farmer, doctor, you name it.)

BTW, I was not assigned this by the teacher. I assigned it to myself.

I’m going to go with the position that ALL jobs need math. The only issue is what level of math. If you’re an engineer, you might be working with differential equations. If you’re one of Hawking’s friends, you probably see some sort of massive multivariable calc problem on a daily basis. If you’re the guy selling me a burger, you need to count my change. If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you probably don’t use much more than 9+8.

Farmers definitely need math. You need to know how big your field is and how much stuff you can grow on it. You’d need to figure out how much fertilizer you need. I might be thinking too much like an engineer, but you’d need to optimize your crops to provide the highest income for the lowest investment.

Doctors need to figure out the dosage for their patients. I’m sure there’s other things, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head this late at night.

If you’re a lawyer, you need to figure out how much to gouge your client.

However, as a philosopher, while you need math, you can probably talk your way out of it.

My economic teacher is always saying things like:

If you knew calculus(draw out calculus long), you could use it but it is not required for this class.

We still use a good amount of algebra and calculus is helpful and probably required to do any graduate work in economics.

Statistics is a class that is required by a lot of business type classes.

Economics and Business are still very important to all the jobs I know.

Trig can come in handy in everday situations a lot. My dad uses it to mark soccer fields and make sure the field is square.

I am sure there are jobs where math is minimal or non-existant but math isn’t just limited to job. Other examples include personal finances, and paying tips.

So while math may seem hard, and sometime is, I think that taking math through algebra and trig is a good level to start/end is. I would further reccommend trying a introductory calculus class and statistics.

I travel to South Dakota once or twice a year, where I visit family and friends who are either farmers or the family of farmers.
When I am there, I constantly see examples where math is used. For example, when I was checking some cattle, a family friend showed me where he used a GPS to navigate a carefully planned route that was perfected to almost the level of an Escher. This does not require the common mathematic skill set, but it certainly requires a working knowledge of how things fit together–something that can be reinforced by mathematics training.
Now, one can find the area of this field in two ways. For farming, it is sufficient to multiply the distance one travels along this spray path by the width covered by each pass. If you need to be more accurate, you can split up the land into sections with easily calculable areas, such as semicircles and squares.
However, what if the field in question had to be measured very accurately? Then, one might need some vector calculus and find the line integral.
Just easy math in every farmers’ daily work :smiley:

You know, I never thought about it before, but I should never be a farmer because I probably would try to be too perfect with things like that…

I work in search engine marketing – writing and managing sponsored search campaigns for car dealerships, specifically. When you see advertisements among the search results on Yahoo! and Google, that’s my work.

I use math day in, day out, all day long. Marketing is sometimes perceived as a very emotional discipline, but ultimately it’s about learning what does or does not motivate people to buy under given conditions. Using data I collect from my marketing campaigns, I’m able to build models of idealized campaign structures that will return our clients investment in the fastest way possible. Beyond the initial learning curve and time it takes to gather a substantial set of data, everything I do is now based on statistical analysis of advertising performance.

It’s interesting and I’m far more comfortable doing things with math than I am following my gut feeling. My gut feeling is that advertising is bad. :slight_smile:

Q: Why does a farmer need good math skills?
A: Because when they protect their crops – too little pesticide means they lose more of the crop, too much pesticide means they wasted money on excess spraying, and not following the mathematical instructions on the pesticide label means they can go to jail. Use of pesticides in any manner for which they are not specifically labelled is a crime – the warning is printed on every label.

My wife is in advertising, and uses a scary amount of math. They have to know how to target you and beat down your defenses, so that you buy that hamburger while driving that car while wearing those designer jeans to your favorite store.

Almost everyone uses math - some people may not even know they are using math. If you spend money, you understand SOME math… It’s all relative.

Here’s a saying that my Dad taught me…
The Lotto - A tax on people who don’t understand math.

Well, I definently agree that everyone has to use math, probably more than they know, to get by every day. In every career. So, lets try and find the career that requires the least amount of math. I’m thinking Bachelors and above only.

My arguement would be an english or literature major. Probably very little math involved in that. Or maybe not! Whether I hated math or not(I don’t by the way), theres no way I could analyze literature for the rest of my life!:ahh:

I have had this argument with one of my older brothers for years. He swears that he doesn’t use math in his job and sees no need to ever use math more complicated than what is needed for balancing his checkbook.

The ironic part is that he wrote his own program to be able to estimate project costs for his electrical installation company.

I just sit back and grin. :rolleyes:

I suppose I haven’t thought very much about it, but yes, I agree that math is definitely a part of every job. Being involved in a youth orchestra, I see that math is VERY present in practically all musical jobs- especially fractions! I’m also pretty sure that some english major out there could tell you how they use math in their job, although the only thing I can think of is poetry meters and lines, but that hardly even counts as math.

Since I’m getting my medical degree right now I’ll talk about the medical aspect. We use formulas to figure out the filtration rate of urine in your kidneys, for example. There also many different formulas to figure out different values of substances in your blood. It’s not complicated stuff but its there.

I believe that while math is necessary for some jobs, there are definitely some which do not require much of a working knowledge. For example my English/History teacher last year was hopelessly mathematically incompetent, and you would never know except for the times when she tried to figure out exactly how far apart two events were in history. Then it came to the surface, she would usually resort to having us, her students, do it for her.

Now, you could turn this argument around and say that she did need math for her job to figure the dates out and such, but she obviously didn’t know any. Since she was still a very good teacher, and I learned a lot from that class, it seems to me that she really didn’t need it. Perhaps it would be helpful, but for 28 years now she’s been teaching without it and doing fine.

Indeed. Possibly if she could do simple mathematics, she could enrichen her cirriculum even more. Or, on the other hand, since she can’t do simple arithmetic, you might question her other reasoning capabilities.

:mad: HEYY! my dad is a laywer!!! :mad: (jk, bout the mad faces)

Sooo true! haha, actually not that kinda of lawyer though

I agree that basic math would no doubt have been helpful to her in all aspects of life, including her career, but it was, as the evidence shows, not necessary. This was all I was trying to say.

Knowing this teacher for an entire year, it soon became obvious her other logical facilities were quite honed. She could debate anything, with whatever information she had. This teacher’s memory and verbal processing were both easily above average, I don’t think anyone who knew her could question her reasoning capabilities.

Psssstttt… Psssstttt… Not a good example. My grandpa didn’t graduate from high school and he was a farmer. Then again he is 90 years old.

My grandfather is also a farmer, and has father before him… There is a lot of trial and error and luck, but also a fair amount of math involved in calculating land size and approximate size of cattle and sale value.

That makes sense. Our math teacher introduced several calculus problems dealing with ranch optimization and John Wayne. To prevent leaking out the secrets to our school’s freshmen and sophomores, I’m afraid I can’t mention what the problems exactly are though.

I would say that math is directly applied in careers dealing with computer science, because writing in each language is like learning a new version of math.

Not really…I think programming language are mainly just syntax. The fundamental logic is still the same. Unless you are like jumping language generations…assembly is NOTHING like sql…and so on =D

Architects use Math!!! :smiley: :yikes: