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22 STEM Majors for High Paying Careers

STEM Majors in Lab

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

These educational disciplines are the foundation of STEM, an acronym and term used to describe education that directly relates to hard sciences, as well as the careers that follow. STEM experts enhance medicine, gather data to make important decisions, find more efficient ways to manufacture, and develop high-quality facilities, just to name a few opportunities.

To solve the problems of today and face the challenges of tomorrow, almost every college across the U.S. offers STEM degrees.  Every day, STEM graduates are building bridges, designing industrial equipment, or developing new technologies in engineering.  Workers with STEM degrees are likely to find high-paying, long-term, rewarding careers.

With the right approach, you can get the right degree and launch a STEM career that enriches your life, makes a sizable income, and keeps you busy for decades.  Read on to understand more about what STEM is, what it is not, and what STEM majors lead to the best careers in today’s marketplace.

What is STEM?

STEM focuses on four areas of study: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  By combining and emphasizing these four disciplines, students will have a greater chance of achievement in areas from problem-solving and analysis to communication and collaboration.  

Science

The sciences cover a wide range of fields, from biology to chemistry to physics and more. Science careers are complex as the information scientists find and deliver serve the entire world in pursuit of truth, or, facts and answers to daunting questions.  The most famous science topics today include climate change, vaccines, infrastructure, and energy.  Online science degrees can be found at universities nationwide, serving those interested in becoming lab technicians, forensic scientists, biologists, geologists, and more.

Technology

Technology makes the world go ‘round, from the smartphone used to track your college enrollment (#Emma™), to wind powered turbines and dams, to anything digital you can think of.  Those interested in technology careers may find pursuable education in data management, computer science, software development, technology management, and more.

Engineering

Engineers are found in industries spanning nuclear energy to petroleum, aerospace, computer hardware and Big Data, to name a few.  Their careers involve more than just deskwork, as engineers must communicate with industry experts, research projects, travel to worksites, and oversee some of the biggest projects the world sees today.

Math

It’s all in the numbers. Math involves calculations from simple to complex that help make predictions and solve problems. While some deal with it more than others, all STEM fields will involve math in some form.

What About Healthcare & Medicine?

Discussing STEM education tends to leave out medical and healthcare degrees. This is not to say that jobs in the healthcare industry don’t involve science, technology, engineering, and math, it’s just that when people discuss STEM, they usually leave out doctors, dentists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

There is a perfectly logical and reasonable argument for including healthcare in STEM discussions. Doctors study anatomy (science), prescribe specific doses of medicine (math), and use advanced robotics (technology and engineering), but there is a general disagreement on whether the health industry should be included.

The argument against healthcare professions as part of STEM really comes down to classification. STEM is a loose definition used to describe careers that deal directly with hard sciences, and healthcare is simply left out to keep the term more specific.

For this reason, we will not be including traditional healthcare positions, such as doctors and nurses, as a part of our list. We will, however, include majors that build things for the medical industry, such as biomedical engineers.

Why is STEM Education So Important?

There is little doubt that there is a huge need for people educated in STEM programs. These professionals build our infrastructure, create new innovations, and allow the world to expand and pursue even more advanced knowledge.

There are various numbers that inspire more STEM degree graduates. To quote the U.S. Department of Education:

In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our nation’s youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math, including computer science—disciplines collectively known as STEM/CS.”

 

STEM jobs make up roughly 6.2% or 8.6 million jobs in today’s marketplace, making it a significant portion of our overall economy.

A June 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states that there are 0.9 unemployed workers for every available job in the U.S. However, for every single unemployed STEM worker, there are two unfilled jobs. Despite the fact that millions of Americans are unemployed, the manufacturing sector simply cannot fill their staffing needs, due largely to a complete lack of skilled candidates.

Skills Developed in STEM Majors

Earning a STEM degree involves building skills and professional competencies specific to your line of work, or field of study.  The STEM areas are broad, but a few skills span each major and each degree, and help students work toward higher positions in their organization, company, or entity:

  • Iteration
  • Problem-solving
  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Design
  • Evaluation
  • Research and recording
  • Planning and executing

Online STEM degrees are available with accredited universities nationwide.  Since hard sciences require labs and hands-on learning, many online STEM programs may be hybrid or blended to meet these program requirements.

Best STEM Majors

Let’s look at the biggest STEM majors that can launch successful careers. These majors, and the corresponding careers, not only provide a substantial income, but most are expected to be in high-demand for years to come, giving STEM students a fruitful, long-term career.  The following list comprises the highest paying STEM careers, with median salary, job outlook between 2019 to 2029, and other information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Petroleum Engineering

Median Salary: $137,330
Job Growth: 3%
Number of Jobs: 34,400
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Energy is a growing industry, and while renewable technologies get a lot of attention, the petroleum industry remains an important area for STEM majors. With a degree in petroleum engineering, students learn to design equipment for the extraction and use of oil and gas while considering many economic and environmental factors.
GetEducated’s Pick: University of Southern California Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering

2. Computer Engineering

Median Salary: $119,560
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 72,200
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Computer engineering is a common education for people who want to work as computer hardware engineers, which is one of the high-paying STEM careers available today. Hardware engineers create a wide variety of computer equipment, testing and analyzing the hardware they have built. They may also be tasked with updating existing computer hardware or managing the manufacturing of new devices.
GetEducated’s Pick: Grantham University Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering Technology

3. Mathematics & Statisticians

Median Salary: $93,290
Job Growth: 33%
Number of Jobs: 60,500
Entry-Level Education: Master’s degree

Mathematics is a great major for anyone interested in a STEM career and shows a proficiency for algebra, calculus, and other types of math. Mathematicians don’t just hammer out equations, they actually develop new ways of conducting math, which can be extremely useful for other STEM majors.
GetEducated’s Pick: Mayville State University Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

4. Aerospace Engineering

Median Salary: $118,610
Job Growth: 3%
Number of Jobs: 68,200
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Students who are proficient in math, physics, and chemistry may be perfectly suited to a degree in aerospace engineering. During this education, students will use both field and class studies to understand the structures and science behind the most advanced spacecraft and airplanes. They will also learn how to develop new innovations, making them essential to the aerospace industry.
GetEducated’s Pick: Liberty University Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance Management

5. Nuclear Engineering

Median Salary: $116,140
Job Growth: -13%
Number of Jobs: 14,300
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Positions as a nuclear engineer are generally reserved for professionals with masters and doctorates, but the entry-level requirement for the profession is a bachelor’s degree in nuclear science and engineering. Although the demand for nuclear experts may drop over the next decade, there is still a lucrative pay opportunity.
GetEducated’s Pick: University of South Carolina – Columbia Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Engineering

6. Software Development

Median Salary: $110,140
Job Growth: 22%
Number of Jobs: 1,785,200
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Median earning software developers earn well over $100,000 a year, but even people just out of their STEM major can earn a substantial income. A student with a degree in software development will learn how to analyze needs and design computer programs to accomplish specific goals. They may create applications or plan parts or a whole program.
GetEducated’s Pick: Grand Canyon University Master of Science in Software Development

7. Chemical Engineering

Median Salary: $108,540
Job Growth: 4%
Number of Jobs: 34,000
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

This broad degree covers the development and design of products that involve chemical and biological changes. Chemical engineers can be involved in the production of drugs, food, fuels, household chemicals, and substances used in mechanics. They are often involved in the development of manufacturing processes but can also work on safety and health issues involving chemistry.
GetEducated’s Pick: Villanova University Graduate Certificate in Biochemical Engineering

8. Actuarial Science

Median Salary: $111,030
Job Growth: 18%
Number of Jobs: 32,600
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
Licensure: CAS or SOA

There are many educational paths to becoming an actuary, which analyzes financial risk, the most obvious degree choices are actuarial science or finance. These degrees teach students to analyze risk using a combination of science and mathematics. Actuarial science majors are often employed in the insurance industry, but they are also found in scientific research and company management firms.
GetEducated’s Pick: Florida State College at Jacksonville Bachelor of Science in Financial Services

9. Electrical Engineering

Median Salary: $103,390
Job Growth: 3%
Number of Jobs: 338,900
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

An electrical engineering degree involves classroom studies, laboratory work, and field activities to develop a strong understanding of how electricity functions and how it can be harnessed on a large and small scale. Electrical engineers may design new uses for electrical power or perform detailed calculations to be used in the installation or maintenance of electrical systems.
GetEducated’s Pick: New Mexico State University Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

10. Geological Engineering

Median Salary: $93,800
Job Growth: 4%
Number of Jobs: 6,600
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Geological engineering degrees use a combination of sciences, such as chemistry, physics, geology, and biology, as well as engineering basics to understand the earth’s structure and develop systems for responsible use of resources. Geological engineers are often employed by the mining industry, developing open-pit and underground mines while supervising construction and devising safe transportation methods for extracted materials.
GetEducated’s Pick: University of Idaho Master of Science in Geological Engineering

11. Marine Engineering

Median Salary: $95,440
Job Growth: 1%
Number of Jobs: 12,000
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

From sailboats to aircraft carriers, marine engineers and naval architects are responsible for the design and production of water crafts. They need a strong understanding of hydrodynamics, machinery, performance testing, and many other skills to create seaworthy vessels. From military to shipping to recreation, marine engineering students are the minds behind the boats.

12. Materials Science & Engineering

Median Salary: $95,640
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 27,900
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

With hands-on development of nearly any product or material available, people with an education in materials science and engineering are responsible for developing a wide range of items, ranging from everyday to rare. They can work with many different raw materials, including metals, plastics, and ceramics to create innovative new products.
GetEducated’s Pick: University of Virginia Master of Engineering in Materials Science & Engineering

13. Biomedical Engineering

Median Salary: $92,620
Job Growth: 5%
Number of Jobs: 22,200
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Biomedical engineering is a complex degree that combines multiple disciplines, including biology, medical research, and engineering. People with a STEM degree in biomedical engineering can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and laboratories, designing equipment and devices for the healthcare industry.
GetEducated’s Pick: Colorado State University Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering

14. Health & Safety Engineering

Median Salary: $94,240
Job Growth: 4%
Number of Jobs: 27,500
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

By combining health and safety practices with engineering practices, health and safety majors learn how to create systems that keep people from injury and sickness. With a degree in health and safety engineering, you will know how to evaluate equipment, identify potential job hazards, and check mechanical controls.

15. Environmental Engineering

Median Salary: $92,120
Job Growth: 3%
Number of Jobs: 57,600
Entry-Level education: Bachelor’s degree

As environmental awareness grows alongside the global population, the need for sophisticated systems that allow us to live our lives with less impact on the planet will have to be enhanced. A STEM degree in environmental engineering teaches students to prepare environmental reports, design environmental protection structures, and study the effects of infrastructure development.
GetEducated’s Pick: University of Florida Master of Science in Environmental Engineering Sciences

16. Mechanical Engineering

Median Salary: $90,160
Job Growth: 4%
Number of Jobs: 328,700
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Students who obtain a degree in mechanical engineering are trained to design, redesign, and analyze mechanical devices. Much of the work done by mechanical engineers is completed with computer-aided processes. Mechanical engineering degrees not only study the development of mechanics, but also testing and final analysis.
GetEducated’s Pick: Kansas State University Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering

17. Industrial Engineering

Median Salary: $88,950
Job Growth: 10%
Number of Jobs: 325,800
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

This degree is largely concerned with the efficiency and productivity of industrial processes. Someone who studies industrial engineering will know how to review production schedules, find ways to manufacture products, and develop management control systems that create greater profitability and success in the industrial sector.
GetEducated’s Pick: Kettering University Master of Science in Lean Manufacturing

18. Civil Engineering

Median Salary: $88,570
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 334,700
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

A degree in civil engineering will educate you on how to create publicly-owned structures, such as roadways, bridges, and municipal buildings. Civil engineers often analyze long-range plans for cities and states, and take into account construction costs and regulations while planning projects.
GetEducated’s Pick: Ohio University Master of Science in Civil Engineering

19. Database Administration

Median Salary: $98,860
Job Growth: 10%
Number of Jobs: 145,300
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
Licensure: Software vendors / technology companies

The organization and implementation of databases is crucial to many organizations, including businesses, non-profits, and government institutions. Database administrators need to understand database language, such as SQL, and will learn other important computer science and information technology skills.
GetEducated’s Pick: Western Governor’s University BS in Data Management & Analytics

20. Computer Programming

Median Salary: $89,190
Job Growth: -9%
Number of Jobs: 193,800
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

A degree in computer programming can be applied to nearly any industry and nearly any geographical area. Computer programmers write and test code, making them essential to the production of efficient and effective computer technology. They often work in offices and test software created by developers and software engineers.
GetEducated’s Pick: Grand Canyon University Bachelor of Science in Computer Programming

21. Computer Network Architecture

Median Salary: $116,780
Job Growth: 5%
Number of Jobs: 168,100
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

These professionals design and build data communication networks. As society becomes increasingly digital and reliant upon technology, computer network architects are needed to design, manage, secure, upgrade and research new technologies and hardware’s.

22. Agricultural Engineering

Median Salary: $84,410
Job Growth: 2%
Number of Jobs: 1,700
Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Agricultural engineering degrees are vital to the development of environmentally-safe yet effective agricultural systems, structure, and equipment. Someone with an agricultural engineering degree will use computer software to design equipment or modify environmental factors to enhance production. The degree will also teach a student to oversee construction of agricultural infrastructure.

Start a STEM Major Today

The right STEM education is waiting for you. Whether you want to work in engineering, computer development, or biological sciences, a STEM career will enhance your future and give you a platform for long-term success.

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