What Is STEM Education, and What Jobs Can It Get You?
Have you ever wondered why there are so many federal, private, and non-profit organizations promoting STEM education? STEM is the foundation of technology and innovation, and there are many jobs available in this broad field. If you’re wondering what stem is or what stem careers are in demand, this guide can help you.
This article is your complete guide to understanding STEM education and STEM careers. The goal is to help you understand the benefits of pursuing STEM-related fields so you can decide if it’s an ideal fit for you. You will also get a glimpse of the highest-paying STEM jobs as well as online STEM courses and STEM bootcamps to help you launch your career.
What Is STEM Education?
STEM is an acronym used to describe a combination of the academic disciplines which are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM affects every aspect of human life, and it can be applied to how people think, react, and contribute to our daily lives. STEM includes everything from embryonic stem cell research to civil engineering.
STEM also has applications in national security, international security, workforce development, aviation, and even immigration, to mention a few. STEM disciplines form the core combination of innovation and technological advancement. Learning skills in these fields gives you hundreds of career opportunities and helps you earn a higher salary.
Why Is STEM Education Important?
STEM education is important because it prepares students for both STEM careers and non-STEM careers. These jobs are currently in demand and will continue to grow for years to come. For example, some of the highest-paying tech jobs in 2021 also have high rates of growth.
Also, students in STEM disciplines become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. This explains why they tend to earn more than many other academic fields even when they occupy non-STEM occupations. These experts also contribute significantly to the US economy with particular emphasis on technological advancements.
There are STEM subjects at different levels of education, from kindergarten to high school to college. Because it includes science, technology, engineering, and math, the topics vary greatly. This means that no matter your interests, you’ll be able to find a STEM job that suits your needs. Read below for more examples of STEM subjects.
- Computer science
- Information technology
- Electrical engineering
- Design and technology
- Machine engineering
- Biomedical sciences
- Finance and fintech
- Aerospace engineering
What’s Demand Like for STEM Careers?
The demand for STEM careers is high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an eight percent rise in STEM careers between 2019 and 2029, and every other profession is projected to grow by 3.7 percent within the same time. The most in-demand STEM disciplines are the ones related to healthcare, computer science, and information technology.
For example, the BLS also projects a 32 percent surge in demand for healthcare and medical services workers between 2020 and 2030. As well, computer and information science occupations are expected to grow by 22 percent simultaneously. These numbers are all significantly above average.
At a Glance: Highest-Paying STEM Jobs
Below is a table of some of the highest-paying STEM jobs to help you decide which is right for you. It contains the projected outlook of each job, annual salary, and required education according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth statistics refer to the projected percentage of new jobs between 2020 and 2030.
|Profession||Job Outlook||Annual Salary||Education Required|
|Computer and Information Research Scientist||22%||$126,830||Master’s Degree|
|Network Architect||5%||$116,780||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Nuclear Engineer||-8%||$116,140||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Software Engineer||22%||$110,140||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Database Administrator||8%||$98,860||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Materials Engineer||8%||$95,640||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Mechanical Engineer||7%||$90,160||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Operations Research Analyst||25%||$86,200||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Web Developer||13%||$77,200||Associate Degree|
In-Depth: Top STEM Jobs
Computer and Information Research Scientist
These experts work around the clock to develop new and innovative uses of existing information technology systems. Computer and information research scientists don’t just design desktops and laptops. It could be any type of computing or computer-based device, from smartphones to smart home appliances.
These are information technology experts who work primarily on the development and maintenance of computer networks. They are the architects of wide-area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs). Network architects also develop intranets for organizations. The demand for these experts is just slightly above the national average.
Nuclear engineers are STEM experts who deal with developing and maintaining tools used in the nuclear industry. Their primary goal is to ensure that governments or private organizations reap all the benefits of radiation and nuclear energy while mitigating the risks. Nuclear engineers report above-average job satisfaction, according to the BLS.
These experts work on the development of new software and the maintenance of existing software. The best part about software engineering is that it paves the way for many other computer and information technology roles. Software engineers can either thrive on their own as freelancers or work in a tech firm.
As the name implies, database administrators use specialized database management systems to collect, store, organize, and secure data on behalf of an organization. You can become a database administrator with a bachelor’s degree and work in finance, healthcare, and any other industry that relies heavily on large volumes of data.
Material engineering is the process of studying, designing, and developing new materials for multiple uses across industries. It could be anything from ceramics to metals. While this is one of the highest-paying STEM careers, it is essential to note that the two percent rise in demand is below the national average for all occupations.
Geoscientists study the Earth and learn about its past, present, and future. The bulk of the job revolves around observing the physical composition, structure, and processes of the Earth and providing viable solutions for preserving natural resources. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes many other sub-fields like environmental geology and natural hazards.
Mechanical engineering is the design, development, and maintenance of mechanical appliances. The things they build include but aren’t limited to thermal sensors, generators, refrigerators, and any other mechanisms. While the demand for mechanical engineers isn’t as high as many others on this list, the compensation and benefits are still commendable.
Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts are problem solvers who use their knowledge of advanced analytical and mathematical principles to solve real-world problems across industries. They work hard to answer some of the most pressing questions that potentially shape the future of industries.
Web developers are programmers who work specifically on developing and maintaining websites and other web-based applications. They ensure that this software has perfect user interfaces and experiences according to business specifications. Web developers can work remotely either for a firm or as freelancers.
How to Start a Career in STEM
The table above shows that the preferred education for most STEM careers is a bachelor’s degree. However, this isn’t always the case. There are many STEM career paths that you can take without a university degree, as long as you find somewhere else to learn in-demand skills. Read below to learn about the best education methods for STEM training.
This is the traditional route to take right after high school. There are many different college-level STEM programs, and the first is the associate degree, which you can get in two years. Associate degrees are typically offered by community colleges, and they are faster and more affordable than bachelor’s degrees.
The second option is a bachelor’s degree, which you can pursue after getting your high school diploma, GED, or associate degree. These STEM degrees run for four years online or offline, but there are exceptions for those who want to learn at an accelerated pace. You’re more likely to get a higher-paying STEM job with a bachelor’s degree than an associate degree.
For graduate degrees like master’s degrees and PhDs, you will need a bachelor’s degree first. However, this isn’t always the case. There are options for those who have non-STEM undergraduate degrees and would like to migrate into a STEM program post-grad. The same schools that offer great STEM bachelor degrees also have excellent graduate programs.
Coding bootcamps are fast-paced alternatives to getting a college degree. These bootcamps have been gaining more popularity in the last decade because employers have become more fluid with their education requirements. Coding bootcamps that offer STEM subjects run for about three to six months, and they cost between $2,000 and $20,000 on average.
Apart from teaching you technical skills, the best coding bootcamps also teach soft skills that prepare students to navigate the job market. They also provide career services to ensure that these bootcamp graduates find entry-level STEM jobs. Flatiron School, Thinkful, Nucamp, General Assembly, and Coding Dojo are great options for STEM programs.
It is important to note that coding bootcamps only cover STEM programs related to software development, computing, database management, product management, and a few other digital technologies. So, if you want to start your career in tech, a coding bootcamp is worth it.
Online STEM Courses
This is the most affordable option for starting a STEM career. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the most limiting one. There are many online courses on platforms like edX, Coursera, and Udemy to help you learn about any STEM field you want. However, most employers don’t hold online courses to the same level as bootcamps or degrees.
The courses you take online should depend on the STEM career you want to launch. There is a wide range of videos and written courses for almost every course, with some having more resources than others. If you already have a degree and want to upskill in certain areas, online STEM courses are the best choice.
Is a STEM Career for Me?
Yes, a STEM career is good for you or anyone who wants to be part of new, innovative technologies. STEM careers are among the highest paying in the United States and beyond, and they also have great job growth projections according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to build a lifelong career, STEM disciplines might be right for you.
What Is STEM FAQ
Yes, doctors and many other medical science fields can be classified under the STEM umbrella. Most of the subjects you’ll need to study as a doctor falls under the most popular STEM subjects.
What is the best STEM major?
Network architecture, software engineering, nuclear engineering, and mechanical engineering are some of the best STEM majors. These attract good salaries, are in high demand, and come with amazing job satisfaction.
How do you get into STEM?
You can get into a STEM field by getting high-quality STEM education in the field that interests you the most. After that, develop your problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and tech skills. When you’ve acquired the knowledge you need, you can start your career in STEM.
Do you need a degree to work in STEM?
No, you do not need a degree to land every STEM job. Most of these jobs require a college degree, but some jobs you may apply successfully for with bootcamp training or self-study. This includes jobs like software engineering and web development.