You might think you were done with math after high school, but think again. Surface area—the exposed area of an object—is one of the most practical math concepts used in everyday jobs. It might surprise you to learn about a few examples of occupations that use surface area on a daily basis—and they aren't math teachers.

Professional painters use surface area to determine how much paint they will need for a project. They calculate the surface area of a wall by multiplying the width of the room by its height from floor to ceiling, subtracting the total areas of any windows or doors that they aren't planning to paint. They then divide the total surface area to paint by the coverage of each paint can, to determine the number of cans to purchase.

The surface area of an element is an important consideration for chemists. Generally, the greater the surface area of a substance, the quicker it reacts. Iron, for example, is easily combustible in powder form (more surface area) but is extremely stable in large masses (less surface area).

A dentist uses surface area to determine the size of dental restorations, such as bridges and dental implants. To make sure their patients maintain the same chewing capabilities they had with their original teeth, dentists follow Ante's Law, which states that the surface area of the replacement must be equal to or greater than the surface area of the original tooth.

Santa's elves use the concept of surface area with each gift they wrap. The total surface area of any gift determines how much paper they will need to cover it. They might need the surface area of a rectangular prism to wrap a board game, a sphere to wrap a basketball, or a cylinder to wrap a can of cashews.