STEM workforce jobs a good career move

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By Loretta A. Ragsdell

Contributing Reporter / Columnist

Summer's end is nearing and college freshmen are preparing to report to their prospective campus, and others are contemplating returning to school for retaining. For those who have not yet decided on a major, a serious look at a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) course of study and career is highly recommended.

Currently, many STEM jobs are going unfilled because there is an extreme shortage of qualified, educated, and trained candidates. As per the United States Department of Labor (DOL), within the next decade, employment opportunities in STEM careers will increase by 10%.

With $14 billion invested in workforce skills, DOL through its Employment and Training Administration is an important stakeholder. DOL's is working to help alleviate this critical shortage by supporting innovation and growth of this field within other government industries and the education communities.

According to Payscale.com, the top paying STEM job is in Petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for exacting oil and gas deposits from the earth's surface. They also find new ways of exacting oil and gas from under existing older wells. The median pay for a bachelor's degree and three years or less experience in the field is $88, 700.

The second highest paid STEM workforce job is in the field of nuclear engineering. A recent college graduate with less than three years experience can earn $62,900 a year. A nuclear engineer conducts research and develops processes, instruments, and systems used in radiation. Some work in industrial and medical fields to find uses for radioactive materials. Their work often leads to the development of equipment used in medical diagnosis and treatment.

The marine engineer, is the third highest paying STEM job with an annual income of approximately $62,200. A marine engineer design ships and aircrafts such as submarines, sailboats, and tankers. The job also involves designing and working with mechanical systems used in propulsion (the ships' force) and steering of aircrafts and ships. Over the next decade, economists are projecting a 17% employment growth in the marine engineering industry.

STEM workforce jobs require a four-year degree and experience, which can be obtained as an intern. Many four-year colleges and universities offer comprehensive engineering curriculum and other STEM workforce programs. A community college is a good option for taking general and core courses at a reduced cost. These courses can be transferred to a four-year institution. There are many academic scholarships also available for the right candidate.

Yes, a STEM major requires hard work, and an aptitude for math, science, technology, and English. The curriculum is rigorous; however, employment prospects are extremely promising.

Our economy is on the rebound, and STEM workforce jobs are at the core of it, so if you are up to the challenge, whether you are a new college student or considering returning to school for retraining, the STEM workforce field is wide open. There is plenty of room at the top, and the salary is top dollar. For more information visit www.dol.gov and www.payscale.com.

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