STEM Degrees: What They Are & Jobs You Can Do With Them
As technology changes and innovation soars, it’s no surprise that STEM-related majors are becoming some of the most sought-after graduates in today’s job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in STEM fields are projected to grow by 8 percent by 2029 compared with 3.7 percent for all other occupations. High demand for computer occupations is largely behind the expected increase in STEM employment for the next decade.
By earning one of these degrees, you could enter the workforce prepared for a variety of in-demand jobs and high-paying careers. Two out of three U.S. workers are STEM professionals.
Many of the students I counsel recognize the wide-open field for STEM careers. The recent pandemic has seen an upsurge in interest in STEM degrees. It revealed the need for STEM workers at the forefront of addressing health pandemics and infrastructure issues.
One of the students I worked with chose to pursue a degree in logistics because he saw the need for supply chain management. He watched the path of the vaccine from acquisition to allocation to delivery and saw how this STEM career would be useful in the future.
What are STEM degrees?
A STEM degree is a degree focusing on the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. A STEM curriculum requires students to apply scientific and mathematical concepts to solve problems in technology and engineering. Students also learn to use technology to design and build systems, solve scientific problems, and communicate effectively.
Science majors will build a knowledge base comprised of a wide variety of subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, psychology, and others. Depending on which subjects you choose and which path you choose to take, you could work in health care, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, food production, environmental protection, energy, manufacturing, research, and more.
Technology majors study how we use computers and other electronic devices to solve problems. These majors are often blended with courses in engineering and math. It encompasses a range of disciplines, including computer science, information technology, and cybersecurity. Students learn to use the power of hardware, software, and networks to seek new innovations and strategies in the digital world.
There are several career paths to explore in engineering: civil engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Engineers are responsible for designing construction infrastructure, machines, and systems. Engineers can work in construction, aerospace, energy, automotive, and even health care.
Mathematics encompasses a diverse range of fields of study. These would include pure mathematics, applied mathematics, computational mathematics, and mathematical physics.
It’s a fundamental discipline that forms the basis for various STEM disciplines. As an aerospace engineer, my son-in-law uses mathematics daily to chart flight patterns and evaluate launch statistics. Math majors can pursue careers as mathematicians, statisticians, data scientists, actuaries, financial analysts, researchers, and even educators.
Are STEM degrees better than other degrees?
No, one degree is not better than another degree. The goal is to find the career path that interests you and match it with a degree path. If you are interested in science, technology, engineering, or math, a STEM degree would be the best choice of major. However, if none of those areas of study interest you, it would be advantageous to look at other degree paths.
Why pursue a STEM career?
A STEM major’s solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics gives them an opportunity to explore multiple career paths. The goal when training and educating STEM majors is to teach them to use the principles of math and science to solve real-world problems as they arise.
In addition to being trained to solve today’s problems, a STEM major can expect to be well compensated for their work. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 93 out of 100 STEM occupations had wages above the national average, with petroleum engineers, architectural engineers, computer engineers, and physicists on top of the list as the highest wage earners. Also, the average entry-level STEM salary outpaces other fields.
What skills are required for a STEM professional?
STEM professionals solve problems by applying their knowledge of mathematics and science. They follow scientific processes and formulate solutions. They look for the most efficient way to use technology and engineering to solve the problem.
In order to pursue a career in STEM, you should be able to apply problem-solving skills and use analytical reasoning. A strong understanding of math is critical as mathematics is the foundation of all STEM degrees.
In addition, communication skills are important as they will be used in verbal and written communications. STEM career professionals will often be required to give presentations to both large and small audiences.
List of STEM degrees
Many colleges offer some type of STEM degree. However, there are too many to list here. If a STEM degree interests you, this list of STEM options from the Department of Homeland Security should help.
Wondering if a STEM degree is right for you?
Now that you know what a STEM degree is, what you'll learn in a STEM program, and some of the jobs you can do after graduating, you might be wondering if this could be a good fit for you. One of the easiest ways to figure that out is to take our college majors quiz. It's always free, and students tell us it's helpful for narrowing down their options.
Just click the button below to take our college major's quiz.