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Many challenging and rewarding careers - not just engineering - demand a strong background in math. Classes like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry may be difficult, but they open doors to many exciting opportunities in your future.

*From an interview with Gladys Henderson, Mechanical Engineer and Technical Project Manager at NASA Johnson Space Center; provided by CareerGirls*

There are lots of reasons to take as much math as you can, even if you don’t want to be an engineer.

- Math can make you smarter! It’s like endurance training for your brain. Learning to think critically and focus on a problem is important for any career.
- Math classes help you make and save more money. On average, people who understand math have higher paying careers. Being comfortable math will alos help you make smart financial choices.
- Understanding math is like understanding a universal language. With math, you can communicate difficult concepts with a few simple equations.
- Extra math can help you get into the college of your choice - and make make it easier to complete a degree in less time.
- Math makes you a go-to person! You’ll be able to help your kids with their math homework, and you will be the one people turn to when they need some creative problem-solving.

Here are some math classes that you will want to take:

Algebra is extremely useful for solving problems. Algebra uses basic arithmetic rules to describe and group things and to discover the value of something unknown (usually represented by a letter in an equation). Algebra is the foundation for many other math subjects.

Geometry is the study of the properties of and relationships between points, lines, angles, and surfaces. Geometry uses logic and mathematical laws to describe the physical world and will give you several other important problem solving tools.

In trigonometry, you study triangles and trigonometric functions like sine, cosine, and tangent. Trigonometry has real world applications dealing with everything from radio waves and electricity to telescopes and ship navigation.

With calculus, you combine everything you've learned about math and take the next step. Calculus uses special symbols and logic to do difficult calculations, like determining the orbit of a space vehicle, or predicting the time it takes a car to stop on a wet road. Calculus is a very powerful tool for solving complex problems.

Statistics deals with identifying patterns in data, while probability measures how likely something is to occur. Together, these powerful math tools can be used to determine what people see online, how products are priced, who gets a loan and who doesn't. This math is essential to understanding public polls and other data-driven policies.

Remember: Since you have to take most math class in a particular order, it's important to start early so that you are prepared to take the right classes when you need them.