Creating the next great technology innovations is crucial to the advancement of our society and the American economy. Unfortunately, the American workforce is crippled by a lack of experts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which is what we call the STEM skills gap. Since this week is National Engineers Week, we’re doing a three-part blog series on STEM-related topics. In part one (this post), we’ll examine the fastest-growing STEM jobs for 2015. In part two, we’ll look at the state of STEM in education and the workforce. In part three, we’ll explore a program that helps inspire middle schoolers to become interested in STEM disciplines through exposure to actual STEM professionals.
This year, hiring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) will continue to show a strong and growing demand. 31 percent of hiring managers plan to create new opportunities in these areas in 2015, which is up from 26 percent last year. Here’s a list of some of the top jobs in STEM to watch, and how to get started if you’re interested in finding a job in that field:
Software developer/systems software:
Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. “Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers create the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including those in phones or cars” (BLS). Most systems software positions require a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or mathematics. To become a developer: learn computer programming and develop strong communication skills for explaining how solutions work (especially to those who might not understand computers or programming at the same level). This particular industry is expected to grow ahead of the average job growth rate through 2022 at least, so taking on goals related to computer science would be a strong investment for job seekers or professionals looking to differentiate their toolkits.
This role will continue to surface as more companies seek to organize their information for internal purposes and/or for their customers. Database administrators are the gatekeepers and organizers of company data, whether that is shipping or purchase information or financial data. Database administrators (DBAs) use computer software to organize company data and typically establish ways of administering, protecting, and using the data as part of their job description. These roles are increasing above average as well. To become a DBA: without a Bachelor’s degree in Information Management individuals should begin with training around the computer software that would enable them to do the most crucial aspects of the role. Software companies typically offer certifications for those interested in learning their programs for Database organization and administration.
Network and computer systems administrator:
In short, network and systems admins ensure that company-wide networks are systems are operating on a daily basis.As more companies rely on their own networks to best use and organize information and conduct operations, these roles will also continue to steadily rise in demand. Job outlook for these roles is expected to rise closely to the average – 12 percent- through 2022. To become a network and systems admin: many employers do not require a Bachelor’s degree related to the field, and a postsecondary certification can be obtained instead. Microsoft and Cisco offer widely used programs for certification in this area. Roles in this area develop consistently, so professionals in this field typically have to continue their education throughout their career.
This year and in the coming years, demand for actuaries is expected to grow well above average; at least 26%.The primary role of an actuary is to analyze and assess financial costs, especially pertaining to risk and uncertainty. They tend to have backgrounds in math, statistics, and finance. Actuaries are primarily found in the insurance industry, but other industries use their services as well. To become an actuary: actuaries must have a Bachelor’s degree and also pass a series of exams in order to practice their careers.
The number of college graduates majoring in statistics has nearly doubled in the past four years and even with this increase these graduates may not fill the demand for careers in statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for statisticians will increase 27% by 2022. The primary role of a statistician is to obtain, analyze, communicate, and use data points to support a company. This can be widely useful in anything from basic research to business model projections to risk assessment. To become one: many statisticians require a degree in the subject or something closely related (mathematics, for example). Career advancement is possible through furthering of education, and many statisticians with their Master’s or a Ph.D can operate or create their own work.
The broad and ever-changing world of STEM continues to produce new career opportunities and continues to present new opportunities within pre-existing career paths as companies find new ways of using information and computer science in particular. Computer Science, Programming and Software Development continue to lead STEM majors, but we can expect to see more and more data, math and statistics-oriented careers surfacing. With a heavy influx of new data and information from technology, there will likely be more demand for the manipulation, assessment, and organization of this information – which also presents a great deal of opportunity for those without computer science degrees or programming backgrounds.