Higher learning can lead to a fast-growing, high-paying STEM job

Individuals who decide to earn a degree in a STEM subject are likely to have high-paying, fast-growing careers after graduation.
Individuals who decide to earn a degree in a STEM subject are likely to have high-paying, fast-growing careers after graduation.

Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration shows that students who decide to earn a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) may find high-paying, fast-growing jobs after graduation.

The report indicates that in the past decade, the number of STEM jobs has increased three times as much as the number of positions in other fields. In 2010, approximately 5.5 percent of the American workforce held a STEM job. Still, the report's authors state that growth for these positions is expected to continue in the next 10 years.

In 2009, most STEM occupations related to computers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, there were about 500,000 people that held jobs as computer support specialists, computer software engineers and computer systems analysts.

Still, people who decide to pursue higher learning and launch a fast-growing STEM job are also likely to see big paychecks. According to the Department of Commerce report, people who hold STEM positions earn about 26 percent more than individuals who do not. Additionally, college graduates who hold a degree in a STEM subject tend to make more than those who do not, regardless of whether they actually hold a STEM job after graduating.

Individuals who wish to hold STEM jobs may want to consider earning a bachelor's degree, as this is usually the standard credential for an entry-level position. Still, many professionals who work in one of these four industries have master's or doctorate degrees.

For example, according to the BLS, individuals who wish to become mathematicians must have a master's degree for entry-level positions, while many professionals who hold this job title have doctorate degrees. Additionally, most engineers are required to have a master's-level credential.

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