Technical jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) play an instrumental role in information technology, high-tech manufacturing, and the research and development industries. These types of occupations offer consistently high-paying careers with potential for strong growth over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
All STEM occupations require the ability to think logically, troubleshoot problems and communicate well. Educational opportunities range from certificate training to a PhD, with most programs falling within the bachelor’s degree level.
A STEM-related degree provides a valuable credential and knowledge base that may qualify you for employment in a variety of industries.
Occupations in the sciences often conjure images of someone working in a white lab coat conducting experiments. While this is correct in many instances, scientific job opportunities go far beyond the laboratory, with many scientists also working in offices and outdoors.
Life scientists study living systems, including organisms and ecosystems. Agriculture and food scientists are interested in the production and distribution of food, making improvements in food quality, quantity and safety. Biological scientists study animals, plants and bacteria, and conservation scientists manage natural resources for economic and recreational value. Physical scientists may study and monitor weather systems, study how particles bond, create new chemicals for use in products, and monitor pollutants and ground water circulation systems.
Technology-related careers include any category that requires technical skill, including information technology and other computer-related occupations. Some technology workers create and design new software; others develop databases, which are important to nearly every type of business. A computer systems analyst helps organizations make use of technology more efficiently. A cybersecurity specialist works to protect computer systems from hacking or harm.
The results of engineering can be seen in items we purchase every day, from tomatoes to televisions. Engineers use science to design, develop and test new products. Maintaining and improving goods is also a large part of what engineers do.
Engineers often specialize in areas such as agriculture to design new equipment and to plan irrigation or food processing systems. Civil engineers design bridges and dams, and often plan traffic routes and solve related logistical problems. Drafters use computers to conceive new products or landscapes, and technicians often make use of GPS technology to plot new projects.
This area of STEM occupations may seem to be the most intimidating, but many occupations that use math skills are not necessarily technically based, but do require attention to details.
For example, actuaries analyze statistical data in order to predict future risk. Events like hurricane damage and auto collisions are areas of interest for insurance companies, who employ a large number of actuaries. Mathematicians may decipher and devise encryption methods in order to protect confidential information. Statisticians enjoy collecting, analyzing and interpreting data.
Additional occupations not always viewed as STEM-related include managerial and teaching positions. Other oft-overlooked jobs, such as sales representatives for manufacturing, technical and scientific products, may also be considered when planning for a STEM career.
If you are a logical thinker and a creative problem solver, and are able to communicate well orally and in writing, take a deeper look at STEM careers.
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