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(CareerBuilder) -- In elementary school, there are classes you always look forward to -- gym, home economics and choir -- and classes you don't -- like English, science and geometry.
But as you grow up, you realize different likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.
Maybe you recognize that you really do like to read and write, or that the periodic table makes more sense than you thought. For some people, math was this way. Formulas, fractions, square roots and parameters came easily, and a calculator and compass were always found nearby.
To many, these kids were considered "math geeks" and were sometimes chastised for their love of crunching numbers. But we should have paid attention in math class instead of poking fun or sleeping -- because those who did are just plain getting paid.
In 2008, mathematicians earned an average annual income of $94,960, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mathematician was also rated the best career, based on a January 2009 study of the best and worst professions by JobsRated.com.
The study evaluated 200 professions based on work environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. The second- and third-best professions, actuaries and statisticians, are also in the mathematics arena.
If you consider yourself a math whiz and are ready to put in a few extra years of school, check out these 10 jobs and what you'll need to succeed in them:
Actuaries deal with risk. They analyze statistical data such as mortality, sickness, injury, disability and retirement rates to figure out their probability of happening and the costs associated with each event. In turn, they create policies for people and companies that minimize the risk and financial impacts of these given situations.
Education: An undergraduate degree in mathematics, statistics or actuarial science, or a business-related field such as finance, economics or business.
Average annual salary: $95,980
2. Cost estimator
Cost estimators figure out how much future projects or products will cost and determine which current endeavors are making a profit. They analyze factors such as cost of materials, labor, location and duration of the project to help companies decide whether to pursue a project.
Education: Construction employers prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree in construction science, construction management or building science. Employers in manufacturing prefer someone with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics or engineering.
Average annual salary: $60,903
Economists identify problems and solutions within the distribution and production of goods and services such as land, labor and raw materials. They research, analyze and monitor economic trends, and use math models to answer economic questions.
Education: A master's degree or Ph.D. in economics is typically required.
Average annual salary: $93,898
4. Electrical engineer
Electrical engineers design new and better electronics. They work on high-tech assignments for products such as cars, robots, cell phones, and radar and navigation systems, for example.
Education: A college degree in electrical engineering, along with courses in mathematics and physical and life sciences.
Average annual salary: $89,268
Physicists study the natural world. They perform experiments and conduct research to develop theories related to laws of nature, energy, motion and matter.
Education: You usually need a doctoral degree (Ph.D.).
Average annual salary: $92,537
6. Market researcher
Market researchers examine market conditions to determine potential sales of product or service. They usually conduct polls or surveys to assess factors that will affect the sale of a product.
Education: A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for many market research jobs, but a master's degree may be required for technical positions.
Average annual salary: $70,410
There are two types of mathematicians: theoretical and applied. Theoretical mathematicians develop new principles of math and look for new developments in existing principles. Applied mathematicians use theories and techniques to solve economic, scientific, engineering, physics and business problems.
Education: A Ph.D. in mathematics usually is the minimum educational requirement.
Average annual salary: $94,960
Statisticians apply statistical and mathematical theories to collect, analyze and interpret numerical data to provide usable information. Some statisticians, for example, may collect data to learn how safe new products are before the products can be sold.
Education: A master's degree in statistics or mathematics is the minimum educational requirement, but research and academic jobs generally require a Ph.D.
Average annual salary: $70,891
Fighting with your neighbor about where to put the fence in your backyard? Ask a surveyor for help. Surveyors measure and draw what the Earth's surface looks like, determining official land, air and water boundaries. They write descriptions of land for deeds, leases and other legal documents; define airspace for airports; and take measurements of construction and mineral sites.
Education: A bachelor's degree in surveying or a related field; every state requires that surveyors be licensed.
Average annual salary: $54,140
10. Mathematical science teacher, post-secondary
Post-secondary mathematical science faculty teach university and college students. Typically they teach several courses within the mathematics field, such as calculus, statistics and algebra.
Education: Four-year colleges and universities usually require candidates to hold a doctoral degree.
Average annual salary: $68,130
Salary information provided by CBSalary.com, powered by SalaryExpert.
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