There has never been a better time for STEM graduates to find a great job. By 2025, there could be 3.5 million STEM jobs open, and 2 million of those jobs could go unfilled. In spite of a surge in STEM education starting in elementary school, there are not enough young people choosing to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, Americans say they are not seeking out STEM education and careers because they think the subjects are too hard. Scientist and humorist Alie Ward is trying to counter that image hosting shows such as Ologies, Innovation Nation, and contributing to Mo Rocca’s podcast. She talked to science guy Bill Nye on his podcast Science Rules and explained her mission is to elevate scientists to rock star status. Ward said, “The thing that fascinates me about science is it’s everywhere. It’s in whiskey, it’s in ice cream. It’s in who you fall in love with. There’s science in this table. There’s science in these microphones. There’s science everywhere.” Ward is onto something. When we think about how many times a day we come in contact with science, it opens up exciting possibilities. Think Formula One racing engineer, autonomous vehicle engineer, artificial heart researcher, space launch specialist, meteorologist, toy maker, or architect. Economists, social scientists, and production engineers at companies including Zappos, Lego, and Boston Beer Company are all examples of the variety of STEM professionals in the world today.
In the last 30 years, stem jobs have grown 79% with women making up almost half of all U.S. STEM workers. While there’s a surplus of STEM jobs, many people silo these positions as thinking they are only for the “smartest kids in the class.” If we reframe STEM jobs as focused on identifying and solving problems with creative solutions, we can add a measure of creativity to the field. In 2015, President Barack Obama told students at the White House Science Fair, "[science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world." In short, STEM thinkers are world changers.
Developing the skills required for STEM jobs is one of the reasons Americans say the field is too challenging. There is some truth to the rigor of STEM fields. While developing autonomous vehicles requires specific knowledge, it also involves curiosity, tinkering skills, and creativity. Professionals in STEM fields tend to have a higher level of education relative to other career areas, meaning they go to school longer and typically earn more advanced degrees. They are twice as likely as non-stem professionals to have a bachelor’s degree. In fact of those working in STEM 3 out of 10 people also have a masters, doctorate, or professional degree.
The extra education is worth it! Those professionals working in STEM fields tend to earn significantly more than those with degrees in liberal arts and humanities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wages of those working in STEM are over $70K annually, which is nearly double of those individuals in non-STEM fields.
With millions of well-paying jobs opening in the next few years, it’s the perfect time to get curious about advancing in a STEM career such as advanced mobility, healthcare, and even making the next great beer or educational toy. Ward wants people to start asking questions about science and technology. She says, “The only key ingredient you need to be interested in science is just curiosity.” Ready to find out more and drive your future? Check out Kettering University Online’s one-of-a-kind program MS Engineering-ECE-Advanced Mobility and other STEM graduate options.