According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, seven of the 10 largest STEM jobs involve computers.
When looking at specific jobs, the highest-paying STEM occupations are petroleum engineers, with an annual mean wage of $147,520; physicists, $117,300; and several management-related jobs, according to the BLS.
The bureau lists the average wage for all STEM occupations at $85,570, nearly double the average for all occupations, $47,230.
The STEM fields continue to hold promise for innovation and inventions on a large scale, according to Moshe Kam, dean of New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Newark College of Engineering.
“Social and environmental changes pose new challenges and motivate new techniques to preserve natural resources and use these resources (such as energy and water) more efficiently.”
“We foresee an ever-growing role of STEM professionals in developing new, exciting and popular products and services in this evolving environment,” Kam added. “The prospects for STEM professionals are bright.”
Kam said the scope of work fields for STEM professionals is wide, ranging from avionics to robotics and from medical imaging to transportation.
“An important and fast-growing field has emerged at the intersection of engineering, computing, and the life sciences, offering new opportunities in health care, fighting disease, human mobility, expanding human life span and quality of life, and protecting the environment,” Kam said.
NJIT offers programs in the sciences (mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and environmental science) and in engineering: civil, environmental, mechanical, industrial, electrical, computer, chemical, pharmaceutical and biomedical.
Programs are offered in computing, computer science, materials science and engineering, as well as applied programs available under the banner “engineering technology,” including programs in electrical and mechanical systems, construction and surveying.
Entry level positions in most STEM fields usually require a bachelor’s of science degree, but many professionals go on to earn a master’s of science or a doctor of philosophy degree.
Most U.S. STEM graduates in engineering are eligible to become licensed professional engineers, which usually requires passing exams and demonstrating professional experience in an appropriate setting, Kam said.
“We believe that STEM fields would continue to expand. As a group, STEM professionals tend to be original and innovative and come up with new, revolutionary products and new, unanticipated services,” he said. “These products and services contribute to the emergence of new industries and in turn, offer new challenges for new inventions. As long as these cycles of inventiveness and growth continue to evolve, the STEM fields would continue to be exciting, challenging and economically rewarding to those who enter them and master them.”
STEM professionals often are cited by major publications and organizations as among the top wagers earners in the United States, according to Dr. Anthony Lowman, dean of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at Rowan University. Those jobs include computer and information research scientists, chemical engineers and others in diverse fields.
Dr. Karen Magee-Sauer, dean of the College of Science & Mathematics at Rowan University, said that graduates with STEM degrees have numerous employment options.
“Some directly enter entry-level or management training programs in industry,” she said, adding that others work for the government or military. “Some are entrepreneurs and start their own firms, creating jobs for others. Others choose to further their education with graduate or professional degrees, with plans that range from teaching at the university level to becoming physicians.”
The Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering and the College of Science & Mathematics offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, and include programs in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, and mechanical engineering and in biochemistry, bioinformatics, biological science, biophysics, chemistry, computer science, computing and informatics, mathematics, physics, psychological science, psychology and translational biomedical sciences.
Rowan also is one of just two universities in the nation with medical schools offering M.D. and D.O. degrees, according to Lowman.
“Often graduates with a bachelor’s degree can start a successful career, but some fields demand a master’s or doctoral degree to progress,” Magee-Sauer said.
While not all STEM professions offer or require licensing, certainly licenses such as Professional Engineer, are important credentials that can enhance a holder’s career, Lowman said.
Magee-Sauer regards the job outlook for individuals with these skills as “exceptional.”
“There is a high demand for people with STEM degrees in a highly competitive global marketplace,” she said.