Landing a Dream Career in STEM

Working in the Hottest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Industries

STEM careers are well suited to inquisitive minds; science, technology, engineering, and math are all subjects based on exploring, understanding and even changing the universe around us. Luckily, today there are more STEM career openings than there is available talent. This means qualified STEM candidates are in high demand, so men and women in STEM industries typically see lower unemployment rates and higher pay than professionals in other sectors. Read on to begin the journey or gain new tools to further a career in STEM.

STEM Careers: Hot Jobs with Leading Salaries

The United States government traditionally funds and promotes industries related to STEM in order to remain internationally competitive. This has created a high-salary job field with innumerable openings across a wide array of fields. Individuals with STEM degrees and certifications can find careers across the country in academia, research laboratories, small businesses, major corporations and more. With such a wide array of subjects and fields, a STEM career exists for nearly every passion.

*Green denotes occupations with higher than average projected job growth through 2024

  • Computer/Information Technology

    Occupation Mean Annual Wage Job Growth
    Computer and Information Research Scientist $116,320 11%
    Systems Software Developer $110,590 17%
    Computer Network Architect $104,240 9%
    Information Security Analyst $96,040 18%
    Computer Systems Analyst $91,620 21%
    Database Administrator $87,130 11%
    Web Developer $72,150 27%

    Interested in a computer or information technology career? Learn more about IT degrees.

  • Science

    Occupation Mean Annual Wage Job Growth
    Physicist $121,770 7%
    Astronomer $110,380 7%
    Geoscientist $106,390 10%
    Material Scientist $101,570 3%
    Medical Scientist $95,000 8%
    Atmospheric and Space Scientist $94,840 12%
    Biochemist or Biophysicist $94,340 8%

    Interested in a career in science? Learn more about online science degrees.

  • Engineering

    Occupation Mean Annual Wage Job Growth
    Petroleum Engineer $147,030 10%
    Chemical Engineer $105,420 2%
    Electronics Engineer $103,760 0%
    Mining and Geological Engineer $103,010 6%
    Marine Engineer and Naval Architect $99,860 9%
    Health and Safety Engineer $90,190 6%
    Civil Engineer $89,730 8%

    Interested in a engineering career? Learn more about online engineering degrees.

  • Mathematics

    Occupation Mean Annual Wage Job Growth
    Actuary $114,120 18%
    Economist $112,860 6%
    Mathematician $105,600 21%
    Financial Analyst $97,640 12%
    Statistician $85,160 34%
    Operations Research Analyst $84,340 30%
    Market Research Analyst $70,620 19%

    Interested in a career in mathematics? Learn more about online math degrees.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 – 2024

Promoting Women & Minorities in STEM

Despite growing initiatives and efforts promoting women and minorities in STEM, these demographics are underrepresented. For example, in 2015 over three times more men than women earned degrees in computing.

Source: Change the Equation, U.S. Department of Education Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2001-2015

In order build a more diverse STEM workforce, various fellowships and organizations promote women and minorities. This also benefit STEM fields as a whole; more diverse STEM talent can result in more diverse ideas, which in turn bolster the STEM research and development community.

STEM Resources for Women & Minorities

Resources for STEM Students and Job Seekers

STEM includes such a wide variety of subjects and fields that the options may feel overwhelming. Luckily, resources are plentiful. Mentors can guide and encourage STEM students and professionals; fellowships and internships can be used to explore the field and narrow interests; grants can fund independent research. There are resources for everyone, from the prospective student to the professional looking to develop their career below.

  • Career Development Webinar: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology These free webinars are hosted throughout the year, allowing participants can learn about careers in the biochemistry and molecular biology industry as well as general information about other STEM careers.
  • Determine the Best STEM Field for You (Quiz) This STEM quiz from Purdue University categorizes results to help job seekers narrow down their choices and find a good career fit.
  • Explore Course Materials from MIT The world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made the materials used in its courses available for free on this website; here, STEM students and enthusiasts can access hundreds of resources.
  • Fellowships with Fermilab Fermilab, renowned research center for particle physics, offers a variety of fellowships for physicists and engineers.
  • Find a Nationally Recognized STEM Mentor This list of Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring winners provides information about the people who dedicate their time specifically to mentoring prospective and current students, job seekers and other professionals in STEM fields.
  • Graduate Opportunities with the U.S. Federal Government Look here for graduate-level research fellowships, awards and other opportunities offered by federal agencies.
  • Learn About USDA Grants Here the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture division, offers extensive information about applying for USDA-NIFA grants including information on grant writing conferences.

Expert Advice for Finding the Right Career in STEM

Vicki V. May, Ph.D. is an associate professor at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering. She has received numerous awards, including 2013 New Hampshire Professor of the Year. She received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 1991, then went on to earn her Master’s and PhD in Civil and Structural Engineering from Stanford University. Her research interests include seismic engineering, student-centered learning and K-12 outreach activities.

STEM covers a wide range of topics and fields; do you have any advice for those looking to narrow their focus?

Talk to people in STEM fields to learn about what they do, look for summer camps or workshops in STEM, take an online course in a STEM field. I developed a massive open online course (MOOC) focused on structural engineering that is offered free through edX. Read about STEM field online, etc. The reality is that you can pretty easily transfer between different STEM fields so it is not necessary to be narrowly focused, at least initially.

What sorts of people do you believe are well-suited for fields in STEM and, more specifically, your own field of engineering?

I strongly believe that anyone can become an engineering (or other STEM professional), not everyone will necessarily want to become an engineer but given the right support and encouragement, anyone with a desire to be an engineer should be able to succeed. And engineering is so broad that there is something for everyone: some engineers focus more on design, some focus on analytical details, some build prototypes, some mainly work outside, some mainly work in a laboratory, some interact closely with clients while others work in an office, etc.

What initially drew you into the field of engineering?

Hmm… I guess math and a good friend drew me into engineering. I was a music major initially in college but loved math, so I took math classes even though I didn’t need them for my major. A good friend was planning to study engineering (her father was an engineer so she knew all about engineering, whereas I knew nothing); I ended up helping her with math and decided that if she could do engineering, maybe I could too.

You’ve written for HuffPost about students leaving the field because they feel discouraged by setbacks; what advice do you have for those unsure if STEM fields are a right fit for them?

I see students who abandon their plans in STEM because they get a poor grade on an exam or assignment and decide engineering is not for them. Instead, I wish these students would seek out help or find new study strategies and realize that engineering (and other STEM fields) is very broad, so they may just need to find a different direction within STEM that they love.

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