Good STEM Jobs Now and for the Future | STEM Education Level Influences Salary | Where is the Best Place to Live? 

There's a Critical Need for STEM Positions

There are exciting innovations, advancements and discoveries yet to be made. The research and work that will shape our present and enhance our future is waiting to be done—waiting for people who choose to study and work in the field of STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.

New ideas, advancements in medicine, space exploration—there’s little debate that people who work in STEM make a tremendous contribution to our society and the need for more STEM workers is critical. This means you'll find STEM jobs in demand. Experts agree that our future literally depends on it.

Recent and Projected Growth in STEM and Non-STEM Employment

Projected growth in STEM employment

Source: ESA calculations using Current Population Survey public-use microdata and estimates from the Employment Projections Program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


STEM Jobs in Demand

Good STEM Jobs, Now and for the Future

In its Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast that by 2022, there would be nearly 1 million more jobs in STEM than in 2012.

But while all STEM jobs will experience growth, some fields in STEM are expanding more rapidly than others. In its report, the BLS listed the jobs that may offer the best STEM jobs and the most employment opportunities (job openings) through 2022.

Topping the list are SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS with 218,500 job openings projected and a median annual wage of $92,660, but COMPUTER SYSTEMS ANALYSTS aren’t far behind with 209,600 job openings expected and an annual wage of $81,190. Both of these careers typically require a bachelor’s degree.

Selected STEM Occupations With Many Job Openings 
Projected 2012–2022  

STEM Occupations with Job Openings

  1. Unless otherwise specified, occupations typically require neither work experience in a related occupation nor on-the-job training to obtain competency.
  2. In addition to the education specified, this occupation typically requires moderate-term on-the-job training for workers to obtain competency.
  3. In addition to the education specified, this occupation typically requires 5 years or more of work experience in a related occupation.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Other Positions Expected to Have Substantial Job Openings by 2022

• Software developers, systems softwareOther STEM Positions
• Civil engineers
• Computer programmers
• Sales reps—wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products
• Network and computer engineers
• Computer and information systems managers
• Industrial engineers
• Architectural and engineering managers
• Web developers
• Electrical engineers
• Computer network architects

STEM Education Level Influences Salary

Careers in STEM are profitable

In 2014, BLS data put the median annual wage of a STEM worker at $76,000 which is more than twice the $35,080 for workers in non-STEM jobs.

In its 2011 Issue Brief, STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future, the U.S. Department of Commerce found that having a college degree bumps up salary potential substantially. For example, a STEM worker with a graduate degree on average earns $40 per hour, as compared with the $25 per hour average earned by a non-degreed STEM worker.

The majority of STEM workers (68 percent) do have a bachelor’s degree—or higher.

In comparing four STEM fields—Computer and Math, Engineering, Physical and Life Sciences and STEM Managers, the brief’s researchers found that those in occupations related to physical and life sciences were the most educated with close to 40 percent having a graduate degree.

In its Occupational Outlook Handbook, BLS research showed that certain highest paying STEM jobs (those with a $100,000 or more median annual wage) do require bachelor’s, doctoral or professional degrees. Among them:

  • Petroleum Engineers
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
  • Natural Science Managers
  • Astronomers
  • Physicists
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists
  • Computer Hardware Engineers
  • Aerospace Engineers
  • Mathematicians
  • Nuclear Engineers
  • Software Developers

A STEM worker with a graduate degree on average earns $40 per hour, while a non-degreed STEM worker earns an average of $25 per hour.

Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree

Careers in STEM are profitableThere are some jobs in STEM that typically do require a master’s or doctoral degree. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, STEM occupations that typically require a master’s degree include epidemiologists, hydrologists and statisticians. Occupations that require a doctoral degree include animal scientists, computer and information research scientists and physicists.

Once You Have Your STEM Degree, Where is the Best Place to Live?

Last year, San Francisco-based financial literacy site NerdWallet collected statistics including salaries, cost of living and unemployment rates from 354 of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. and compiled a list of the Best Places for STEM Grads 2016.

Topping their list was Huntsville, Alabama, with STEM workers averaging an annual wage of $95,150. It’s a hot spot for aerospace. The area is known as the “Rocket City” and home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Cummings Research Park.

Even though STEM workers in San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, California, earn a higher average wage—$122,398 annually—the area’s higher cost of living put them in second place. This area includes Silicon Valley and has an abundance of tech companies.

If environmentally friendly technology is a passion, then NerdWallet says Boulder, Colorado, might be the perfect spot for you with more than 250 “clean tech” companies.

Other cities on the list included: 

  • Seattle, Bellevue and Everett, Washington
  • San Francisco, Redwood City and South San Francisco, California
  • Kennewick and Richland, Washington

Also on the list at number eight is Palm Bay, Melbourne and Titusville, Florida. Also known as the Space Coast, it’s close to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and home to high-tech companies including Lockheed Martin Space Systems, United Launch Alliance, Rockwell Collins and Northrop Grumman.

Rounding out the list were Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey, followed by Austin and Round Rock, Texas.

The perks of a STEM career are abundant, including projections of robust job growth, higher wages than all other fields and the chance to make a difference in the world.

Map of Best Places to Live for STEM Jobs

The perks of a STEM career are abundant, including projections of robust job growth, higher wages than all other fields and the chance to make a difference in the world.

Perks of a STEM Career

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