STEM education is vital for building talents in problem-solving, collaboration and innovation. Additionally, it provides a base of specialized knowledge useful in many professional roles.
Many of the marvels of the modern world come from the disciplines included in STEM. Smartphones, business and accounting software, safe roads and bridges, lifesaving medical treatments and much more are all designed by professionals with a STEM background.
How does STEM education help students?
Students benefit from STEM education in the knowledge they develop and the unique learning experiences that are part of STEM programs.
A strong background in STEM is vital for securing a related job, but skills in the fields of STEM can be applied to many non-traditional STEM careers. For example, marketing professionals can benefit from an understanding of statistics. Business entrepreneurs could benefit from web coding experience to promote their company online. Musicians could benefit from cognitive science to understand how their music impacts listeners. This is to say, STEM skills can improve the abilities of any student in any field.
STEM activities provide students with hands-on learning opportunities that encourage new ways of thinking. Examples include:
Along with classroom instruction and work focused on theory, STEM education offers students the opportunity to learn by doing. At ASU, online students develop both theoretical and practical experience through unique course design. At-home labs and campus visits are just two of many examples. Remote work for learners involves accredited lab components. This includes at-home kitchen labs, personal chemistry experiments and online molecular biology labs using virtual reality simulations offered in partnership with Google and Labster.
Are STEM skills and STEM graduates in demand?
Engineers, technology specialists, scientists and mathematicians are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% increase in the number of STEM jobs from 2019 to 2029. That’s significantly higher than the 3.7% average growth for all occupations over the same period. A degree focused on one or more areas of STEM can help you find an engaging role in a growing employment area.
More students have come to understand the value of STEM skills and degrees. Interest in undergraduate and graduate STEM programs grew from 6% in 2014 to 11% in 2019, according to the 2019 Online College Student Report.
That said, there is still a large talent gap when it comes to STEM careers. Each year, there are 1.3 million new openings in STEM fields at the bachelor’s degree level. However, there are fewer than 600,000 new graduates to fill those job vacancies. Pursuing a STEM degree can open doors to many career opportunities.
To truly understand what STEM education is and why it is important, the value it provides beyond traditional fields like science and technology must also be considered. Many skills developed in STEM education are generally useful across multiple industries.
Graduates with a demonstrated ability to solve problems, innovate and collaborate can succeed in many roles. While their day-to-day work may not leverage technical knowledge, it will draw on key talents built through STEM. Whether you choose to pursue a STEM-focused career or another path, your education will offer a solid foundation and relevant skills to help achieve your professional goals.
Further education allows those with STEM degrees to continue building knowledge and learning about recent scientific and technical developments. Having an undergraduate degree in STEM is already an asset. Advancing your education with a graduate degree can mean qualifying for higher-level roles and the many benefits that come along with them.
Additionally, the high rate of change in required skills for STEM roles means graduates can earn premium salaries when they possess up-to-date knowledge. More experienced professionals can sometimes lose ground as new skills replace the skills they know. Continuing education helps to address these skill deficits.
ASU Online offers graduate degrees and certificate programs that help students accomplish three key objectives related to continuing education:
- Empowering career growth.
- Keeping up with the most recent developments in their field.
- Maintaining and improving current knowledge.
How have related careers been affected by the growth of the STEM field?
Graduates with a STEM education are in high demand. This trend is clear in the employment forecast and in pay data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 20 highest-paying jobs in 2019, 75% were STEM-based careers.
As the STEM field develops, opportunities become more prevalent. Increasingly, advanced technology grows more commonplace. Scientists continue to make new and exciting discoveries. Engineers build more efficient, productive and safe designs. Mathematicians push the boundaries of existing knowledge. All these activities require additional staff as companies expand and current workers retire or move to other fields.
Increasing demand means a number of benefits for STEM graduates. Not only is there a significant talent gap when it comes to STEM degree holders, but compensation is also competitive. The median annual salary for all STEM occupations was $86,980 in 2019, according to the bureau. Comparatively, the median salary for non-STEM positions was just $38,160. This is another reason why STEM education is so important for job seekers. Not only are potential jobs plentiful, but many also offer considerable compensation.