A huge emphasis is placed on going to college for a degree in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. This makes sense when you consider that STEM-related industries are constantly growing and boast an average entry-level salary that is 26 percent higher than non-STEM jobs.
At the same time, it’s critical to carefully consider which STEM field, if any, fits your natural aptitude. Whether you’re headed to college or already working can make a huge difference in your future career prospects and overall quality of life.
Is STEM for You?
Approximately 10 percent of college students realize before graduating that they don’t actually want to work in the field they’ve been studying. Additionally, 31 percent of this year’s college graduates will never obtain a job that matches their degree. This may seem like a statement about employment rates, but in many cases, it’s due to acquiring a degree that doesn’t match the person’s aptitude or personal interests.
If your primary interest in a STEM-oriented career is to make money, you may find yourself among the 70 percent of Americans who feel disengaged from their job. Even worse, this can lead to physical and mental health issues later in life.
Studies have shown that individuals who stay in a job they dislike suffer from more frequent colds and back pain than their happy coworkers, along with insomnia and depression. Therefore, if you’re not passionate about a STEM field, it’s best to find a way to build a successful career doing something you are passionate about.
Choosing the Correct STEM Field
If a lack of interest isn’t a factor, you next need to look closely at all four STEM fields to determine which is the most viable option. Keep in mind that you may not have to narrow your choices down to just one field. For example, one of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. is biostatistician, which requires a firm grasp of mathematics, biology and statistics. The bright future prospects for this particular career mean nothing if you only like science or mathematics and can’t stand the other, though.
Perhaps you’re more interested in utilizing technology to express your creativity. This makes a web designer career enticing, but these combined interests also point out that a job as an IT specialist probably won’t be fully satisfying. Meanwhile, many are encouraged to study IT because the career path leads toward two high ranking future positions: IT Manager and Systems Analyst. This is a solid career choice for those with an aptitude for IT, but anyone who doesn’t like the idea of solving computer problems daily should look for a better fit.
The most important thing to remember is that there are virtually countless careers available in STEM, and there’s also a vast world of industries to consider outside of STEM. Even if you already went to school, earned a degree and started working in a field you now realize you hate, you can turn your career around by turning to your personal aptitudes and interests. A STEM career can take care of your financial worries, but make sure you select a path that is mentally and emotionally satisfying as well.
Read more about STEM education on TechCo