The Information Age has ushered in a flurry of innovative career opportunities, prompting the need for greater skills in science, technology, engineering, and math, collectively known by the acronym, STEM. Over the last three decades, STEM jobs have grown by an incredible 79 percent, and today, they number around 17.3 million.
Preparation for a job in a STEM field often starts as an undergraduate, and with the breadth and depth of college programs available, today’s students have it made. From engineering to molecular physics, many of the top STEM majors lead to high-paying jobs—and a long-term career trajectory.
STEM careers aren’t new, but with the proliferation of data intelligence, the Internet of Things, and advances in technology, these jobs are in even higher demand across all industries, from healthcare and manufacturing to organizational management and logistics.
Consider these facts:
• Compared to non-STEM careers, STEM majors benefit from higher wages, up to $37,000 more at entry level to an increase of $65,000 annually
• About 52 percent of today’s professionals who earned a STEM degree are working in a STEM field
• 93 out of 100 STEM occupations are paid above the national average
• Four of the top seven highest-paying occupations that require a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree are STEM-related
• A master’s degree in a STEM field greatly out earns a bachelor’s degree in STEM for occupations in math, environmental science, network/computer systems, web development, chemistry, and material science, and information security
• Any STEM training has a direct correlation to higher earnings
Engineering Careers Take Top Spot
Deciding on a major can be complex, particularly since each STEM area covers a vast trajectory of options. Engineering, for example, encompasses many areas of study, from petroleum engineer to civil engineer.
Despite the ambitious category, engineering sits as the number one major for highest-paying starting salary STEM jobs, with biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, and construction management rounding out the top five fields.
Other high-paying careers based on a STEM major include:
• Petroleum engineers
• Architectural and engineering managers
• Computer and information systems managers
• Natural sciences managers
Wanted: More STEM Skills
Students may also consider honing their major based on forecasted job need. For example, by 2024, statisticians, operations research analysts, cartographers and photogrammetrists, forensic science technicians, and biomedical engineers will be fastest-growing STEM occupations requiring a college degree.
Computer science majors can also land high-paying careers, particularly since seven out of 10 job openings are related to computers and technology—and there’s a forecasted demand for these careers through 2024. Students majoring in software development, network and computer systems, computer programming, and mechanical engineering are greatly needed.
Further, earning potential for STEM jobs can also be region specific. For example, in Seattle, the highest-paying jobs are in science and technology, with computer and information systems as the top choice, followed by natural sciences, computer and information research science, and computer programming.
By selecting a STEM major, college students are adding a layer of security to finding the right job to launch their careers. As business and technology evolve, so too will the nation’s need for occupations in STEM. The greater the demand, the greater the career opportunities—and the financial benefits are likely to follow.