The Benefits of a STEM Job or Degree
Sparking a student’s interest in science, technology, engineering or math can launch her on a new career in the highly-lucrative and rapidly-expanding opportunities in STEM fields. Great pay, interesting work, job security and good working conditions are the norm for those holding a STEM degree or working in a STEM field, such as computer and information technology, engineering or life science. STEM fields are closing the gender gap, encouraging more women to reap the benefits of an education in science and technology. Solid STEM training benefits the workers of today and tomorrow.
Whether you earned a degree in a STEM field or you work in a STEM field without holding a diploma, STEM increases your average wages. A STEM worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn on average $7 more per hour than another person with the same credentials in a non-STEM occupation. Just holding a degree in a STEM field will increase wages. A person with a STEM degree makes 13 percent more doing the same job as a person without such an education. Those who study STEM or gain a degree in a STEM field have higher wages, even if they don’t ultimately work in a STEM field.
To put it in hard numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reports the average annual wage for all STEM occupations was $77,880 in May of 2009. Natural science managers were the highest paid STEM workers, followed by engineering and computer science managers. These highest-paid workers held mean wages in excess of $100,000 or more.
Working in a STEM job is exciting. All the cool things we love today are the result of the innovating and creative thinking of countless STEM workers, including our phones, computers and video games, live-saving medicines and other technical miracles. Whether a STEM worker uses her skills to bring a rare species of animal back from the brink of extinction or to design the automobile of tomorrow, work in a STEM field will always be challenging and highly rewarding.
Workers in STEM jobs face a lower risk for unemployment than laborers in other fields. In 2010, unemployment rates among non-STEM workers were almost 10 percent, compared to only 5.3 percent unemployment among STEM workers. It is possible that this lower unemployment rate is due to the higher level of education among STEM workers; solid education, especially in STEM fields, reduces unemployment.
The topic of STEM jobs and the education to get those lucrative jobs has never been hotter. The BLS projects STEM job growth to have grown 22 percent between the years of 2004 and 2014. Computer specialist occupations are expected to have grown much faster than average. Despite a sluggish national and global economy, STEM jobs continue to enjoy expanding opportunities for well-educated workers.
Decreased Gender Gap
There is a smaller economic gender gap in STEM jobs than in other professions, with women earning nearly the same income as men for performing a STEM job. Women who work in STEM fields make on average 33 percent more than women who work in non-STEM jobs. Many women with a STEM degree work in education or healthcare rather than in a STEM field.
Good Working Conditions
STEM jobs are usually performed inside air-conditioned offices or laboratories in technical parks located in nice sections of the country, such as southern California or Boulder, Colorado. Most of these jobs are quite safe, extremely exciting and always challenging. STEM workers typically share clean, quiet environments with other well-educated, like-minded professionals.
Before a worker enters the profitable and rewarding STEM field, he needs a solid STEM education. Early and secondary education is the key, whether a student plans to study STEM or enter a STEM field directly out of high school. Introducing students to science, technology, engineering and math at an early age can foster a passion that puts future workers on the right path, rich in financial and professional rewards.