One day, after you graduate from college, you’re going to take your fishing pole, add some bait (skills, experience, knowledge) to your hook (resume), and cast it out (searching) into one of the job pools. Catching a fish (job) is going to be dependent on a lot of things including the quality of your bait and hook, the number of lines you cast and what career pool you decide to try your luck out on. And as one great fisherman once told me “it’s best to go fishing where all the fish are,” or basically you could have the most amazing bait, the state of the line hook and cast it out a million times and catch nothing in a pool with no fish in it.
For the next 10 years that career pool of STEM, or what is commonly referred to as science, technology, engineering and mathematics related industries is projected to show the strongest growth rates among all other career opportunities. The period between 2000 and 2010 showed a tripling of job opportunities in STEM related industries compared to non-STEM jobs and will grow to 1.2 million new openings by 2018. By 2020, that will be a 17% growth in STEM related career opportunities compared to only 14% for non-STEM related jobs. And best of all (for students in those majors), the US department of labor is estimating a large shortage of newly graduating university students who will be qualified to take up most of those new job posts. That’s probably not great for the US, but that will represent a great opportunity for new job hunters. As the current recession is showing, it’s always better to be among the group with scarce resources. Currently we have too few jobs and too many employees, though that percentage will decrease as we get out of recession, it has and never will hit 0%. A study by Change the Equation, a non profit that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning in the US, showed that in the last three years, unemployed people out numbered regular job postings 3.6 to one. During this same time however, STEM related job postings outnumber unemployed 1.9 to one. That means, during the roughest years of our recent recession, there were still more job postings than there were qualified yet unemployed candidates looking for jobs in the tech, engineering or science/math related fields.
Another reason to look towards the S.T.E.M. career pool; better pay of course. A recent study by the US bureau of labor showed that 4 of the top 5 paying careers for bachelor’s degree holders are in those related areas. As always I don’t suggest you only follow the money, but it won’t hurt if you could find your passions in a future career that statistically rewards you with tons more cash than other industries. By starting a career in a field that continues to add new jobs, you also ensure the chance to continue to climb the ladder of success. Contrast that with the current market where more and more employees are being let go because of a dwindling need for their specific skills. They then have to compete against a larger pool of employment seekers that basically creates ceilings for most where they have to either accept lower positions (with lower salaries) or start over in a new career path.
One important factor that should go into the decision of what to major in during university has to be with what industries will have more opportunities in a few years from now. In fact, the US should be doing everything it can to try and get more students to major in any of the stem-related industries because a shortage in these important areas will continue to weaken the nation’s ability to drive innovation and competitiveness, strengths needed to stay the global leader.
I recommend always following your passion, but if you could combine that with a field that will have more opportunities than qualified candidates, that will probably guarantee a great paying job waiting for you after graduation. Your preparing your self to become a great fisherman one day, make sure you are building up the right kind of bait and casting into the right career pool so you can hook that really killer fish.