Thanks to the high-tech revolution of the last several years, careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines have become a hot ticket on the job market. Job growth for many STEM careers is expected to be well above average, and many of them are important enough in the business world that they can command considerable salaries at the top level.
Not all STEM careers are created equal, of course, and it's important for science- and tech-minded students to make sure they're choosing the discipline that suits them best. Most institutions offer numerous options for aspiring STEM students, so here's a quick primer on the variety of programs you can expect to encounter in each segment of the field at large.
STEM degrees for tech careers
Makers of software apps, wearable devices and other such exciting products in the tech sector tend to get a fairly large share of the press given to STEM careers, but the news reports often leave out that programmers, software developers, startup founders and CTOs are far from the only professionals working in this field. Check out this list of enterprise positions that may be available to graduates of traditional and online tech schools:
- Computer systems analyst
- Database administrator
- Web developer
- Information security analyst
- Computer network architect
Most tech careers either require or prefer candidates to have formal training in computer science, information systems or another IT-compatible discipline. A bachelor's degree is often sufficient for entry-level jobs in these fields, although candidates with a master's degree or higher may have a competitive advantage when applying for tech careers with a management aspect or otherwise elevated levels of responsibility.
STEM degrees for engineering careers
Engineering is one of the most important behind-the-scenes careers in modern life. Civil engineers design safe highways and bridges, electrical engineers make it possible for us to use powered devices to enhance our everyday lives, and it's only thanks to aerospace engineers that we can take to the skies or explore outer space.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports encouraging salary numbers for graduates of campus-based or online schools in engineering, including a national annual average of $93,630 across all engineering careers in 2014. What's more, some engineering disciplines -- particularly civil, biomedical and petroleum engineering -- are poised to see employment increases of approximately double the national average growth rate projection.
The spectrum of engineers may have a few general things in common -- a tendency toward precision, an appreciation for functionality and a passion for solving problems, for example -- but the variety of engineering fields is vast and its members often significantly different from one another. Here's a closer look at engineering careers that presents some extra detail.
STEM degrees for science and math careers
Even though many of the titles of science careers have remained the same for decades, advancements in technology and understanding have brought exciting new possibilities to biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy and other longstanding scientific fields. Aside from degrees and careers that concentrate specifically on one branch of the sciences, traditional and online schools in science offer programs of study in interdisciplinary fields like these:
Graduates who got their degrees at campus-based or online schools in math may have a surprisingly wide array of occupations to choose from as well, both within academia and out in the public and private sectors of the career market at large. Not only does the BLS report that employment opportunities for mathematicians are projected to increase by 23 percent between 2012 and 2022, but a degree in mathematics can also qualify you for similarly hot jobs in data analytics, statistics, market research or finance.
Academic careers in math and science fields typically come with research and publication requirements, particularly those at the top university levels. Science and math careers at private companies often involve the use of deep scientific or mathematical knowledge to aid in the development of new consumer products, materials or technologies.
If you're hoping to find a reasonably well-paying career that can keep you engaged mentally and challenge your problem solving abilities, you might be perfect for the world of STEM careers. Take a more in-depth look with our dedicated pages for tech careers, engineering careers and math and science careers and find out more about just how a degree from campus-based or online schools in science, technology engineering and math can translate into a rewarding career.
If you're hoping to find a reasonably well-paying career that keep you engaged mentally and challenge your problem solving abilities, you might be perfect for the world of STEM careers.
1. May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 10, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
2-7. Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed September 10, 2015: Computer and Information Technology Occupations, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm; Civil Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm; Biomedical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm; Petroleum Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/petroleum-engineers.htm; Mathematicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Math/Mathematicians.htm; Statisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm; Market Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm