If you’ve ever thought of studying science, you’re already familiar with the term STEM. It stands for the four pillars of science: science, technology, engineering and maths.
And increasingly, it’s become the recommended path for incoming college students. Not because there’s anything wrong with an art history degree, but because of the relevancy of the subjects -- and the employability. Don’t mark our words, but the chances that you’ll find a good paying job after graduation with a STEM degree are far better than those of the arts.
And STEM is more than you think. It’s the products, services, tools and technology you use in everyday life. Most of which you may not even be aware of.
Considering a career in STEM? Here’s what you need to know.
Figure out what your interests are.
You’d be surprised to learn that STEM is more than calculations on a chalkboard and engineering problem-solving. Everything from AI to machine learning to the internet is covered under STEM. There are hundreds of different career pathways -- even thousands -- to take if you pursue STEM. It’s just a matter of getting in there and figuring out what your interests are and what you could see yourself pursing for a career.
Along with specialization or focus, there are even more industries in which you can apply the degree, from agriculture to ecology to astronomy to yes, even art. If you choose a broad field like engineering, your specializations range from aerospace to chemical (deemed the most difficult) to civil, electrical, and more.
Not sure which field to study? Start broad. Set sail for math and then let your interests derail you. Or, go specific -- say biomedical engineering -- and then pick up on what you like and don’t like about the field and take that on with you. Even consider doubling down on a degree if you’re really interested, and pair creative nonfiction with aerospace engineering.
Stay up to date on tech.
If you’re considering the field, start following publications and media in the industry and stay up to date on news, innovations, products and new launches. STEM is changing faster than any other field, and staying in the know is part of what makes your career relevant -- or one that’s about to die out.
More than just reading about what’s new and exciting in the various industries, stay up to date on the news and real-world problems that STEM seeks to solve. How can the field you’re considering entering solve the challenges our economy, environment, politics and otherwise daily life face today? Start thinking like a problem solver, and if it feels right you’ve found your field.
Build your skillsets.
The best part of STEM is that everything you will learn -- or mostly everything -- is transferable. Again, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are the qualities that make some successful, while others fall behind. Having a solid understanding of math, data, and numbers primes you for any other non-STEM field in business, accounting, or finance. Understanding engineering issues and problem solving with limited resources allows you to think on your feet better. And if you get really could and conveying highly technical terms in laymen speak, you’ve aced communications and interpersonal relations in any other field.
So why study STEM?
Study STEM if you’re looking for employment after college. Study STEM if you’re looking for higher wages than average at your first occupation. Study STEM so that you’ll learn skillsets and a technical know-how that’s transferable across any soft degree.