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In Brief

Which Jobs Actually Use Math?

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(Image credit: Woman doing math image via <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com"target="_blank" >Shutterstock</a> )

Sure, your 7th grade algebra teacher claimed you'd need math all the time. But something doesn't add up: most Americans never use advanced math on the job, research suggests.

Less than a quarter of workers use math beyond fractions at their jobs, according to a survey of 2,300 workers conducted by Michael Handel, a researcher at Northeastern University in Massachusetts. And highly skilled blue-collar workers — think machinists, mechanics and the like — use advanced math such as algebra more than their white-collar peers.

About 86 percent of jobs require simple addition and subtraction, but only 5 percent of jobs required calculus. Of course, before people toss out their math books, it's important to note that the best blue-collar jobs do require high-level math such as algebra, while more than a fifth of white-collar jobs require statistics, The Atlantic reported.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.