Building a successful STEM career isn’t dependent on luck and timing. Instead, it’s based around a variety of different factors – and this guide is going to explain them to you in detail.
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field has become one of the biggest in the world. Not only is it great to pursue academically, but it’s also the ideal career path to follow, too. This is why you now see millions of students enroll in STEM-related courses each and every year.
Between 2017 and 2029, the number of STEM jobs will grow by a huge 8%, which is a higher rate than any non-STEM jobs.
This tells you one important thing: now is the best time to start building a successful STEM career.
So, whether you’re an active professional or a student who is eagerly anticipating graduation, here are some important tips you should use.
1. Study a Master’s Degree
Earning yourself a master’s degree is a smart move to make. This applies to all ages, not just recent graduates.
For example, you can earn a STEM master’s degree in mechanical engineering, computer science, and plenty of other fields of study.
Unsurprisingly, many people are choosing to go with a master of engineering management. Here’s why:
- It provides career advancement opportunities for existing STEM and engineering professionals
- You can grow your management skills, enabling you to lead teams in the future
- You’ll learn about analytics-driven decision making, budgets, financing, and much more
- Your resume automatically strengthens, giving you a major advantage in competitive industries
Due to the nature of most modern-day master’s degrees, it’s possible for STEM professionals to carry on in their professional roles while studying at the same time. This is all thanks to eLearning, where students can study online remotely. This way, you don’t have to worry about making career or family sacrifices to earn your master’s degree, no matter which subjects you choose.
Moving into the future, the demand for master’s degrees from professionals is going to increase. Therefore, it’s best to get yourself ahead of the pack now rather than later down the line. This is especially true if you have the ambition to go into management and team-leading!
What are The Requirements for a Master’s Degree?
The requirements for master’s degrees vary from university to university.
However, more often than not, they will require that you have a BA degree in a related subject as well as work relevant work experience. In addition to this, you may also have to supply universities with reference letters as well as an application fee.
How Many People Have a Master’s Degree?
Master’s degrees are becoming more popular to the extent that they’re now becoming the ‘new bachelor’s degrees. However, they still aren’t part of the majority.
Currently, around 13% of the US population aged 25 and older have a master’s degree. This highlights that if you were to obtain a master’s degree, you would be giving yourself a major advantage over other people.
2. Search for Remote or Hybrid STEM Opportunities
Since 2020, the STEM industry has changed drastically. Now, many STEM professionals have switched to remote or hybrid jobs instead.
The reason for this is simple: working from home affords STEM professionals a healthier work-life balance while still being able to prosper. In particular, the work-from-home trend has had a positive impact on women in STEM, which is great news.
So, if you’re someone in the STEM field which is used to working in an office or on-sight, don’t be too quick to disregard remote working opportunities – as they could be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Here are some examples of STEM careers that can be done from home on a full-time or part-time basis:
- Math, Engineering, or Science Teacher
- Software Engineer
- Registered Nurse (many patients are now speaking to doctors and nurses via video calls, hence the rise of telehealth)
Sound good? Great. Let’s move on to the next piece of advice.
3. Choose a Future-Proof STEM Field
Generally, almost all fields within the STEM world are considered valuable and worthwhile. However, some are viewed as better than others due to the fact that they’re in higher demand and will be around for decades to come. Here are some popular examples:
Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the past 10 years, you’ll know that climate change is a red-hot topic, from the US to Europe.
As a result of this, both companies and governments are investing in resources to help the environment while remaining compliant with environmental regulations.
With this in mind, the demand for environmental engineers is going to sky-rocket. Companies and governments want to work closely with environmental engineers to create strategic plans that fall in line with climate change, which will then help to boost their long-term sustainably.
Also, it’s important to remember that many modern consumers are now eco-conscious. This is putting additional pressure on companies and governments to comply and help the environment, which is why many of them are attempting to go green.
When it comes to a STEM career, you can’t get much bigger than healthcare.
Right now, the demand for healthcare around the world is sky-high. It’s difficult to get a doctor’s appointment, hospitals are packed, and private healthcare centers are seeing a major uprise in registered patients.
From being a registered physician to a nurse practitioner, the opportunities are endless. If you’re within one of these roles already, it’s recommended that you continue to build upon it, as you’re in a field that is continuously rising in demand.
A nurse practitioner is very similar to a standard nurse. The only difference is that a nurse practitioner is an extra education and training in a specialist area, such as family practice.
The demand for nursing is increasing, which is why being a nurse practitioner is an excellent move to make.
There is some debate surrounding nursing within the STEM field, namely that it isn’t a true ‘STEM career’. However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics includes nursing under its STEM fields, which highlights that it is, in fact, a role that’s part of the STEM world.
Statistics is a big part of the science and mathematics worlds, which involves data being collected, analyzed, and described to help real-world situations. Therefore, being an applied statistician is an excellent STEM career to have.
For example, many statisticians work primarily as investment analysts, which involves providing research to traders and fund managers in order to help them make better decisions (and more money). In the age of eCommerce and saturated industries, you can’t put a price on the importance of investment analysts.
4. Accept and Learn from Feedback
Due to the complexity of most STEM professions, the importance of feedback cannot be overstated!
During your career, there will be times when peers and management teams pass feedback onto you – and it won’t always be complimentary.
There’s no need to worry about this, though, as the feedback is intended to help you grow as a person and a professional.
Make sure to accept this feedback, take it on board, and learn from it, as it will ultimately lead you to a more successful STEM career.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your peers and clients. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”.
5. Do Lots of Networking
If you ask any STEM professional about what’s important in their industry, they’ll tell you that networking is number one.
Whether you’re a data analyst or civil engineer, it’s key to do as much networking as you possibly can. You can do this in a variety of ways, including:
- In-person, from when you’re in the office to out on the road
- Online, with platforms like LinkedIn being perfect for this
- At conference events, which are very popular in the STEM industry
In regards to conference events, these usually take place in halls or theatres. Here, all sorts of STEM professionals can gather together, from managers and teachers to IAGs and civil engineers.
At these events, you can discover new working opportunities and forge relationships with individuals and groups that can help to advance your career even further.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pro in a particular field, make sure to attend these types of events – you won’t regret it!
6. Use Additional Learning Resources
In today’s world, it’s possible to go the extra step in your STEM career by using additional learning resources.
This doesn’t necessarily mean enrolling in university and college courses. Instead, you can use one-to-one tutors, mentors, and online resources, too.
For example, many STEM professionals work with math tutors during their spare time. The reason for this is to better their knowledge and gain an extra foothold within their industries.
7. Be Open to Starting Your Own Company
Currently, society is going through an entrepreneurial boom – especially in the STEM sector.
Now, more people than ever are starting their own companies, some of which are done completely from scratch with no prior experience.
A popular choice right now is for people to start their own engineering firms, which is something for you to consider after you’ve gained enough experience and contacts within the industry to do so.
If you don’t want to start your own company, it’s completely natural. However, you should still remain open to other opportunities that might crop up within your industry. Remember, the STEM world is constantly growing – and with platforms such as LinkedIn, it’s easy to cross paths with new opportunities. In many instances, there will be opportunities for you to work abroad, which is another exciting aspect to note.
8. Remain Creative
Creativity is a huge part of being a STEM professional. This is why it’s important to let your creativity flow in the workplace, whether you’re a statistician or on-sight engineer.
Remember, creativity leads to the best possible ideas and opportunities, which is something you should want in the modern age!
9. Stay Up-to-Date with News in Your Industry
Whether you work in tech or healthcare, make sure to keep yourself updated with all the latest news in your industry. This will enable you to keep your finger on the pulse and make smarter career decisions.
For example, in the tech industry, new products are constantly hitting the market. One look at the smartphone market tells you everything you need to know about this. Not to mention, the rise of VR (virtual reality) headsets is also an indicator of what’s to come in the future.
10. Surround Yourself with Positive People
STEM professionals are known for putting long hours into their craft.
Take scientists, for example (as well as science students). Usually, they’ll spend tons of hours in labs hoping to create a paper or journal that – when released – starts a buzz of excitement within the industry and ultimately gets them some recognition.
Sometimes, this will happen. Other times, it won’t – which can lead to feelings of disappointment and failure. For many people, it can even lead to them wanting to quit the industry altogether.
This is why it’s essential that you surround yourself with positive people. You’ll work better and be much more capable of dealing with disappointments. Plus, when you experience success, you’ll have the right people around you to celebrate with!
You’ve now reached the end of this guide regarding how to build a successful STEM career. Hopefully, you’ve absorbed the tips and are now ready to take your career to new heights.
Remember, it’s an exciting time for a STEM professional. Nowadays, the opportunities are endless, from engineering to tech, which means there’s plenty to be excited about.
Not to mention, the introduction of remote working means it’s now easier to fill STEM-related vacancies in other cities and countries, enabling you to broaden your horizons significantly more than in the past.
Moving forward, you should consider earning a master’s degree in your field while progressing up the career ladder. This will provide your resume with longevity and will also set you apart from thousands of other STEM professionals.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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