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Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you can make. One of the ways to explore career options is through the 16 Career Clusters® identified by the U.S. Department of Education. Among them—careers in science, technology, engineering, and math—better known as STEM. These careers range from Information Technology to Health Sciences.

A 2018 survey reported by U.S. News and World Report shows students are twice as likely to study STEM fields compared to their parents, and 52 percent of parents surveyed think the number of STEM jobs in the United States will increase in the coming years. The same survey found two out of five Americans say the STEM worker shortage is at a “crisis level” in the United States, and there is a need for more individuals to take on such roles.

STEM by the Numbers:

The most recent “Spotlight on Statistics” available from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, published in 2017, shows:

  • Nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs represent 6.2 percent of U.S. employment.
  • The national average wage for all STEM occupations is $87,570—nearly double the national average for non-STEM occupations.
  • 93 out of 100 STEM occupations earn wages above the national average, with petroleum engineers earning annual mean wages with $149,590, followed by physicists with $118,500.
  • From May 2009 to May 2015, employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, twice the growth percentage of non-STEM occupations.
  • Employment in computer occupations is projected to increase by 12.5 percent through 2024, far more than any other STEM group. At number two—engineering occupations.
  • Computer occupations make up nearly 45 percent of STEM employment; the largest STEM occupation are IT-related: applications software developer, followed by computer user support specialist and computer systems analyst.
  • Engineers make up 19 percent of STEM jobs. Mechanical engineers and civil engineers each account for more than a quarter of a million jobs.

Filling the Pipeline—How YOU can Take a STEM Career Path:

  • Join a Technology Student Association (TSA) chapter at your middle school or high school.
  • Take part in a TSA competitive event; the skills gained from participating in TSA’s Middle School Competitions and High School Competitions offer pathways to careers in STEM.
  • Among the TSA competitions—5th through 8th grade students can participate in Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), supported by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (USAEOP). JSS develops teamwork, problem-solving abilities, environmental investigation, and hands-on STEM skills in the designing, building, and racing of model solar cars. Related career fields include, but are not limited to, solar engineering and mechanical engineering.
  • USAEOP also funds—and TSA also administers—Unite, an academic program for high school students held every summer at universities across the country to encourage STEM majors and careers.
  • Consider U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) STEM apprenticeships. “At this critical time in our nation's history, DOD is continually looking for young, eager STEM professionals to lead our workforce into the next generation.” Related career fields include computer sciences and IT; engineering; life, physical, and social sciences; mathematics; architecture; and health. See a webinar series featuring apprenticeship mentors such as engineers talking about career paths.
  • Apply for the CompTIA Scholarship for Future Technologists. Ten recipients each will be awarded a one-time, $2,500 scholarship for post-secondary education tuition. 

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