How a career in maths can take you to some unexpected places


Why maths is more than just numbers.

When it comes to the subject of mathematics, you may be curious as to what your hard work could all add up to after graduation. As with any subject, it’s important to explore your options and know exactly where your skills can take you, career wise. A degree in this subject is undoubtedly one of the more challenging courses an undergraduate can opt for. The entry requirements and assignments can be challenging – but the good news is that successful students are able to reap the rewards when it comes to getting a job after graduating. Maths graduates are currently amongst the most employable in the UK – so there’s never been a better time to work with numbers. You’re also likely to enjoy a high starting salary, proof that hard work truly does pay off!

To give you an idea of life beyond university, we’ve put together a list of career avenues a maths degree could lead you to. Although you may not have realised it, this is a qualification that can take you to some exciting and unexpected places…

Game designer

For those who possess not only a mathematical prowess, but a creative flair too – becoming a game designer could be the perfect career choice. But where does the maths come into it? Well, without maths, programmers wouldn't be able to make the objects in a game carry out even the simplest of movements. A combination of game code, variables, vectors, and much more, is what instructs our favourite animated characters to run slow or fast, stop, jump or fly. So when you think about it, it’s not hard to see why a game without programming and maths would just be a collection of useless art. Day to day as a game designer you’ll use code to design complex systems that are easily maintainable, expandable and comfortable to use – as well as injecting a lot of fun into the user experience along the way. In addition to maths, some employers may also want a degree in computer science too.

Urban planner

As you might imagine, urban planners work closely with local councils to ensure cities can support their residents with infrastructure and utilities. What you may not have realised is that there’s also a ton of maths involved with the planning of a city. This ranges from simple calculations of population densities and building areas, to using statistics when calculating projections of land use and economic development. Rome might not have been built in a day, but it possibly might have been built with the help of a calculator… 


If you’re employed in the fast-paced food industry, maths will often be the key to avoiding a culinary blunder or billing disaster! Recipes have to be scaled to meet customer requirements and measurements need to be converted between units or when making ingredient substitutions. Conversions and ratios are also super vital when working in specialist roles like recipe development, coffee roasting or wine and spirit production. Also, it always helps to be maths proficient when totting up the bill of a huge booking. Or to count your tips at the end of a shift, of course… 


Although lawyers don’t necessarily use calculus every day, having a mathematical background can actually be a huge career plus. The analytical mindset you develop studying maths and applying its logic can often be useful in a legal career, especially when you’re examining evidence and forming rational arguments. It’s often recommended that law students study mathematics to hone their analytical skills, with studies showing a correlation between a lawyer’s math skills and the quality of their legal decision making.


Ever dreamt of taking to the skies? Well make sure you brush up on your maths first! To keep the plane and passengers safe during take-off and landing, pilots use multiple factors such as speed, altitude and aircraft specifications to calculate angles of climb and descent. Although flight planning software is on hand to assist, pilots still need an understanding of geometry to plan their routes. They also need to read directional compasses to stay on course. So as you can see, the fundamental skills used in mathematics definitely translate well to the world of flying planes.

Astronaut or racing driver

In addition to incredible physical and mental endurance, space exploration requires sophisticated geometric, spatial and other mathematical skills. Who can forget those nerve-wracking moments in the film Apollo 13 when Mission Control at NASA were frantically making the calculations and adjustments to get the crippled spaceship back to Earth?

The same adrenaline charged calculations come into play in racing, which involves nearly every type of maths learned in schools today. Believe it or not, maths is critical to the design and performance of race cars. Competition is incredibly fierce and drivers are analysed mathematically to determine how good a driver is on the race course, as well as to predict those all-important race times. 


Probably the most unexpected career avenue of them all – who knew mathematical skills were so essential to predicting the weather? As a meteorologist, you’ll be studying the weather and outdoor conditions, using information obtained from the land, sea, and skies. In order to predict weather conditions, you’ll need to use computerised and mathematical equipment to establish long and short-range forecasts. Technologies used in meteorology rely heavily on mathematical principles, as well as physics, to make sense of weather patterns.  Examples include weather radar, chart usage and interpretation and numerical weather prediction – all of which you’ll be expected to do day to day in this role. Whilst some employers may also require additional qualifications, such as a degree in science, you’ll undoubtedly need strong mathematical proficiencies, as well as a love of the outdoors. There are a range of sectors that employ meteorologists, including health services, the aviation industry, the armed forces, and the media – to list but a few.

So, have you been left surprised at where a maths degree could lead you!? Want to learn more about our Mathematics department? Take a look at our mathematics courses today. Last year, our NSS (National Student Survey) score was an impressive 95%, reflecting the success of our department and our high student satisfaction rates.  

To mark World Maths Day on March 12 – LJMU will be hosting an event on the big day aimed at encouraging more young people to take up the study of numbers, and prove to themselves that they’re more capable than they think. Our event: ‘Interested in Maths but think you can’t do it?’ will be a fun interactive webinar and promises to teach you quick ways to pick up calculus at home, even if you’ve never tried it before! The webinar will celebrate two iconic mathematical equations coined by Pythagoras and Gauss, that changed the world forever. So join us on Friday for our event World Maths Day event. It could be the first step on a career journey that may ultimately end up in space…


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