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Old 2008-09-24, 09:32   #12
Brian-E
 
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The idea that theoretical mathematicians lead a stress-free existence is probably based on the myth that they live in ivory towers with no contact with other people and spend their time in some other dimension than everyone else. Surely it's as stressful as most occupations! Nearly all theoretical mathematicians are required to teach students in addition to their own research work and no-one seriously suggests that teaching at any level is a low-stress activity. The research itself doesn't sound stress-free to me either. I would find periods of low productivity highly worrisome when you hit difficulties and are struggling to find a way through - it must be a bit like writer's block for authors and journalists. Then there is the checking and double-checking when you think you have something: when are you certain and at what point do you go ahead and publish with all the risk of someone finding a hole in your work? Presenting your work at conferences must send the heart-rate soaring too.
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Old 2008-09-24, 10:34   #13
Orgasmic Troll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
A classical observation is that being an actuary is an ideal career for those who find accountancy too exciting.


Paul
And actuaries say that accountants are people who didn't have enough personality to be actuaries :D

and CPA stands for "Can't Pass Actuarial (exams)"
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Old 2008-09-24, 10:39   #14
Orgasmic Troll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
The idea that theoretical mathematicians lead a stress-free existence is probably based on the myth that they live in ivory towers with no contact with other people and spend their time in some other dimension than everyone else. Surely it's as stressful as most occupations! Nearly all theoretical mathematicians are required to teach students in addition to their own research work and no-one seriously suggests that teaching at any level is a low-stress activity. The research itself doesn't sound stress-free to me either. I would find periods of low productivity highly worrisome when you hit difficulties and are struggling to find a way through - it must be a bit like writer's block for authors and journalists. Then there is the checking and double-checking when you think you have something: when are you certain and at what point do you go ahead and publish with all the risk of someone finding a hole in your work? Presenting your work at conferences must send the heart-rate soaring too.
Let's say you've got tenure, then you have almost guaranteed job security. Maybe you show up late to all of your classes, and sometimes just plain forget that you're teaching them. Maybe you teach a low level class and you're absolutely terrible at it. You work on your research and completely miss a glaring error that brings the entire proof down. You shrug your shoulders and take a nap. You still have a job, and you could still be regarded as an expert in your field.

Now, let's say you're at a normal job, where you show up late, miss days, can't perform certain menial tasks and make glaring errors that bring the company down. Your boss shrugs his or her shoulders and fires you.

Sure, presenting is stressful, but on a day-to-day basis, being a mathematician is not stressful at all.
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Old 2008-09-24, 15:34   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orgasmic Troll View Post
Let's say you've got tenure, then you have almost guaranteed job security
Ask my cousin about the stress of getting tenure :)
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Old 2008-09-24, 18:21   #16
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Ask my cousin about the stress of getting tenure :)
Good point!
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Old 2008-09-26, 17:02   #17
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Relevant discussion thread here
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Old 2009-06-02, 20:11   #18
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Time has a list of "10 Perfect Jobs for the Recession — and After"

Included are:

Mathematician http://www.time.com/time/specials/pa...901857,00.html

Quote:
This is the top-ranked job on a 2009 report by CareerCast.com.
Teacher http://www.time.com/time/specials/pa...901858,00.html

Quote:
This is another line of work that tops almost every expert's list for job security, benefits and work/life balance.
Network and Computer Systems http://www.time.com/time/specials/pa...901866,00.html

Quote:
Yes, this registers way high on the geek scale and doesn't necessarily offer a great work/life balance. But the pay is very good ...
and

Accountant http://www.time.com/time/specials/pa...901852,00.html

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... virtually every career expert I contacted for this list put accountants at or near the top for job security, pay and mobility.
The other six: entrepreneur, police officer, nurse, nutritionist, physical therapist, government manager
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Old 2009-06-04, 16:32   #19
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Two all-nighters within a week. Three final assignments/exams due in rapid succession. Qualifying exam starts tomorrow.

So much for low stress...
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Old 2009-06-04, 18:02   #20
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I do think that a job as a mathematician is low-stress. It's not stress-free (as many of the examples posted here show), but other jobs are also stressful.

I'd rather teach math than work as a crab fisherman, for example.
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Old 2009-06-05, 20:24   #21
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Quote:
I'd rather teach math than work as a crab fisherman, for example.
I'll second that.

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Two all-nighters within a week. Three final assignments/exams due in rapid succession. Qualifying exam starts tomorrow.
Hang in there!
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