Are you a junior or a senior thinking about what you're going to do once you graduate? Not sure what to do with your skills or interest in science or math?
You're not alone. Many students simply don't know what's available to them. One survey showed that 87% of students thought that STEM jobs were only found at tech companies like NASA.
That's so far from reality, though! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs are diverse and involve a wide variety of skills and knowledge. Here are five science-related jobs to consider and what you'll need to do to achieve your dreams.
1. Doctor or Nurse
Perhaps the most well-known STEM route is via health care. If you have an interest in biology and working with people, this could be a great route for you.
This career path is rather involved and takes a lot of dedication and hard work. You'll first need a four-year undergraduate degree, usually in something STEM-related like pre-med, biology, chemistry or something similar.
To become a doctor, you'll need to apply to medical school, which is four more years of intense schooling that will involve classes on medication dosages, anatomy, physiology and others. Nurses can go several different routes getting an RN or another type of nursing degree.
Both doctors and nurses can then choose specialities based on their passions and interests. You could become a heart surgeon, a pediatrician, a labor and delivery nurse, a neurologist ... the list goes on! You can make this career exactly what you want it to be.
If you're interested in health care but want to go for something a bit more specialized, midwifery is an interesting field you could choose. Midwives work with pregnant and post-delivery patients by tracking gestation and supervising childbirth.
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) are nurses with a midwifery specialty that can completely take over the care of a pregnant woman. This requires a nursing degree and a multi-year midwifery program. There are other options that require less schooling but result in fewer privileges (ex: some types of midwives cannot work in hospitals).
Many midwives work within hospitals, but others choose to run their own businesses and offer home births for their clients.
While midwives aren't as popular in the United States, they're by far the most common childbirth option in other countries, with 75% of births overseen by midwives in Europe, compared with 4% in the United States. The demand for midwives is growing in the US, though, which makes it a great option for today's students.
Did you enjoy working on science fair projects? What about writing lab reports or participating in experiments?
Researchers can work in almost any field ranging from biochemistry to computer science to mechanical engineering. They're responsible for designing and performing experiments in order to gain knowledge in their field. Depending on the type of research you're doing, it could be for purely academic purposes, or you could be tasked with developing new inventions, medicines, medical devices, etc.
Researchers are often considered experts in their fields, usually having at least a bachelor's degree. Many go on to work in academic research labs to complete a Master's or a Doctorate degree. You could then continue to work for academic institutions inside labs, or run your own lab. Others prefer to work for private or public organizations like pharmaceutical companies, software companies, governmental agencies or others.
There are thousands of possibilities to go with this career, but the main skills required are a passion for your field, excellent analytical skills, writing skills to apply for and receive research grants, and management skills to organize and run a lab team.
4. Data Analyst
About 50% of students surveyed said that they didn't know or didn't understand what math-related jobs existed in the real world.
One of the most popular and needed math-related jobs is a data analyst. Like a researcher, a data analyst can work in a huge number of industries from health care to marketing to software development.
Almost all businesses collect huge amounts of data. Whether that's sales numbers, demographic information, numbers for surveys, how many people use your app, revenue, profits ... the list goes on.
In order to gain insight from these numbers, data analysts will create programs and reports that break down the importance of these numbers. This takes a mathematical and scientific mind that can essentially translate hard data into meaningful insights.
The analytics and reports created by data analysts are then used to direct company strategy, adjust practices or formulate plans moving forward.
Many data analysts have degrees in economics, statistics, business, information technology, computer science or related fields.
5. Computer Engineer
If you thought math-related jobs were a mystery, you probably find engineering even more confusing: 76% of students say that they're confused by what engineers actually do.
It varies wildly from discipline to discipline, but let's focus on computer engineering here. Computer engineers test various computers and systems.
They'll also design and create various parts of computers and other tech including circuit boards, memory inputs, processors, hardware, software and more. If they're in the research sector, they'll also invent and test new pieces of technology that can be applied to a wide audience.
Engineers are some of the highest paid STEM workers, which explains why many colleges and programs are growing in popularity with STEM students.
Becoming a computer engineer requires you to receive a four-year degree in computer engineering from an accredited school. Some computer engineers come from computer science or electrical engineering backgrounds, too.
Consider this career path if you excel at math and scientific studies, enjoy computer technology, and like a challenge. You'll also likely need to know at least one programming language, have high-level analytical skills, understand complex mathematics, and be able to test & understand highly abstract concepts and ideas with computer and mathematical models.
- Student Research Foundation: Students Are Thinking About STEM Careers in the Wrong Ways
- Prep Scholar: The 7 Steps to Becoming a Doctor
- New Birth Midwifery: Little Known Facts
- Ramussen College: What Does a Data Analyst Do?
- Discover Data Science: How to Become a Data Analyst
- Your Free Career Test: What Does a Computer Engineer Do?
About the Author
Elliot Walsh holds a B.S in Cell and Developmental Biology and a B.A in English Literature from the University of Rochester. He's worked in multiple academic research labs, at a pharmaceutical company, as a TA for chemistry, and as a tutor in STEM subjects. He's currently working full-time as a content writer and editor.