By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Of course, you should feel excited and interested in your chosen academic path and profession; however, making a good salary makes life easier.
“Consistent with years past, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics current data reveals that top paying jobs are in STEM fields,” said Taeko S. Kelly, assistant director of Career Services at SUNY Oswego.
STEM careers relate to science, technology, engineering and math.
“The future of the economy is in STEM,” said James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. on the bureau’s website. “That’s where the jobs of tomorrow will be.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2022-2030, STEM-based careers will experience 10.5% growth in demand compared with 7.5% growth in non-STEM industries. These figures do not include the self-employed, or owners and partners in unincorporated firms. STEM-based occupations have an annual mean salary of $95,420 compared with $40,120 for non-STEM careers.
The starting wage may be lower and the location of the job and size of the company also make a difference in the salary.
Because of the skill set and specific aptitude required, working in STEM careers is not for everyone.
“A career in STEM would likely be satisfying to an individual who values logic, independence, discovery, and intellect and enjoys researching, experimenting, analyzing, and problem-solving,” Kelly said.
Individuals should also cultivate “soft skills” such as communication and interpersonal skills to more effectively navigate the workplace and improve how they interact with clients, vendors and employers.
STEM-based careers also impart a good deal of job security, as they are nearly all perennially in high demand and will continue to need workers. Many of them lend well to entrepreneurship or small-scale practice, which can help STEM workers retain greater independence and flexibility in their career path and personal life. STEM careers vary in degree requirement, from the bachelor’s degree for the architectural and engineering manager to the doctorate for the physician. It is important to compare the cost of the degree with the future salary.
Although not as high paying as STEM careers, consider the careers that are associated with them and support them, such as a physician assistant ($121,530), orthodontic technician ($38,660) or surgical technologist ($48,530), psychiatric technician ($36,230), dental assistant ($38,660), computer support specialist ($57,910), and architect ($80,180). While most do not pay a high wage, these careers offer a high level of demand, room for advancement and a foundation in the industry when considering additional education.
Administrative supports to STEM jobs, such as receptionists, secretaries and office managers, pay less but will stay in demand. Executive roles in STEM-based industries, including STEM companies’ CEO, CFO and COO will both pay well and because of their industry, remain in demand.