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Over 30 Popular STEM (&STEAM) Careers and 10 Unusual Ones

11 Popular STEM Careers and 11 Unusual OnesEngineering, and Math. STEAM adds the Arts and Design elements to the mix. The thought process behind introducing these elements into schools is to ready the emerging population on subjects beneficial to the prosperity of the world. STEAM teaches students how every subject somehow relates to each other, which is supposedly beneficial as they grow into college age and are looking to make their STEAM-related career choices.

Arts were recently thrown into the mix because so many careers need creativity, and without the arts, there isn’t any! So, you may have a math degree, but to show off your findings, you need to be able to present it in a cool and understandable way. Hence, the artist part. How about technical writing? That’s a STEM career, but writing is also a creative skill. So, you get it now, right? Furniture equals creative (form) plus engineering (function). STEM with the A is visible in so many varying careers.


STEM Careers Include

You’ve already been there and done that with the whole primary and secondary school. Now you’re trying to really commit to what you want to be when you grow up. Well, if you’re wanting to start getting into specifics, the majority of careers touch upon the STEM industry. Some may fall into one particular part of it, but many combine all forms and functions. Really, the one main industry that is heavily debated is the healthcare field. Nursing and medicine encompass much of the STEM career format, however some researchers believe it should be its own thing. So, let’s take a look at other popular, and quite lucrative, STE(A)M careers. Some of the following careers are available as online programs too.


Highest Paying STEM Careers

  • Medical Scientists: As a medical scientist, your main duty is to do research in order to improve the health of humanity. Clinical trials, investigative methods: They are part of your career jargon. Careers are growing about as fast as average. There’s nothing average about the salary, however. You’ll earn over $80K annually.
  • Chemists: Busy yourself with atomic and molecular levels and how substances interact with each other on a daily basis. You’ll need at the least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field. On average, chemists earn over $76K.
  • Environmental Science: You will know enough natural science that you’ll be able to protect our environment. A bachelor’s degree is that bare minimum you’ll need to enter this field, and you’ll earn $69K annually. Because more and more people are starting to show concern for our environment, the career is growing faster than average at 11%.
  • Agricultural and Food Science: You’ll be working full time to improve the efficiency and standards of the food industry and products associated with it. Most going into this field get advanced degrees, however, a bachelor’s degree may get you in the door. $63K is the median salary, and an average growth is expected through 2024.
  • Astronomer: You’ll be looking to the skies, studying stars, planets, and other amazingness in our heavens. Telescopes, both on the ground and in the skies, will be part of your equipment. You will be part of a research team made up of other astronomers, physicists, engineers, and more STEM related careers. Your salary will be over $104K on average, and can go higher than $165K. Employment growth is about average.
  • Atmospheric and Space Science: You’re looking at phenomena in our atmosphere through intel from surface and air stations, satellite, and radar to prepare for the weather man and other industry experts. You’re also bringing in a nice annual salary of $93K.
  • Bioinformatics Science: You’ll use a mashup of information technology and computer science in your study of biology. You may also be designing your own computer technology to help you do your research. On average, $75K is the salary you’ll make.
  • Geneticist: This fascinating career will have you treating and counseling patients with hereditary predispositions, along with creating a path of treatment. Doctorates are most common for this career. It’s growing at 29% over the next few years, so although competitive, jobs will be available as long as you have the proper degrees and licensing. You’ll be looking at an average salary of close to $200K. Genetic counselors need a master’s degree and earn over $75K.
  • Architecture: Scientific laws combined with artistic design equals the popular STEAM career of architecture where you'll create home plans and commercial structures. The mean salary is over $76K, and career growth is expected to grow about average, at 7%, through 2024.


Highest Paying Technology STEM Careers

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager: Also known as information technology managers and IT project managers, you’ll be doing the planning, coordinating, and directing of all computer-related activities wherever you work. You’ll have a bachelor’s degree or work-related experience equivalent to the degree—maybe both. This career is growing pretty rapidly, and salaries are averaging over $135K annually.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: You will study a company’s computer programming, assess it, and help to design and implement one better suited for its needs. To work in this career, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. The position is growing quickly, at 21% through 2024. You’ll enjoy an average salary of over $87K.
  • Web Developer: (designer and developer not the same) An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement for web developers, although there are many who are successfully self-taught. You need to know coding and graphic design because you’re in charge of the look and feel of a website, from the front end to the back. You’ll earn an average salary of over $66K. The job outlook is growing at 21%, but it is also a very competitive field.
  • Information Security Analyst: You protect companies and other organization from cyberattacks by analyzing, planning, and carrying out preventative security measures. As the amount of attacks via the cyberland grow, you’ll find yourself more in demand. Bachelor’s degrees are the minimum requirement to work as a information security analyst, but you’ll earn well over $85K annually.
  • Software Developer: You’re the brains behind computer programs. You can focus on application development or systems software. Or hey, why limit yourself? Do both! Bachelor’s degrees in computer science are the typical route. Average salaries for software developers are over $103K, and the career is experiencing a rapid growth at 17% through 2024.
  • Computer Hardware Engineer: Problems happen. Especially when it comes to technology, and computer hardware and software. You’ll be fixing that stuff right up, and helping to advance technology through your research, design, development, and testing. To work in this career, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. Expect to pull in over $133K per year.
  • Technical Writer: Usually college degrees are recommended for technical writing, but there have been many technical writer success stories where a college degree wasn’t something they had. You’ll write company how-to guides, instruction manuals, and other documents that support what the hiring company does. Jobs are growing faster than average at 10%, and technical writers enjoy an average paycheck of over $69K annually.
  • Database Administrator: It’ll probably be helpful to focus your bachelor’s degree studies on information or computer-related subjects. You’ll also need some related work experience prior to getting hired for the first time. Employment is expected to grow 11%, which is faster than most other occupations. To earn the average annual salary of $85K, you will use specialized software to organize company information such as customer shipping or financial data.


Highest Paying Engineering STEM Careers

  • Petroleum Engineer: This field will experience a 10% growth through 2024, and a WAY above average salary at a little under $130K. Petroleum engineers design and build oil and gas extraction technology, while protecting our environment.
  • Nuclear Engineer: You’ll use nuclear energy for good, from medical related to harnessing its power safely and efficiently. Never for malevolent purposes. A bachelor’s degree is the minimal requirement, along with some work experience. Employment opportunities are on the decline, but salary is far above average at over $104K per year.
  • Mechanical Engineer: You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree and a state-specific license to work as a mechanical engineer. It’s a pretty broad career: You’ll be touching almost every aspect of equipment for almost every part of life. The average yearly salary is $84K, and careers are growing as fast as average.
  • Computer Engineer: This is the path most traveled for students wanting to focus on computer hardware engineering. You’ll build, test, and analyze computer hardware, including your own creations. Slower than average growth is expected, but the salary is one of the highest in STEM careers at close to $115K.
  • Biomedical Engineer: Medical and biology come together—you’ll create the equipment, software, device, and computer programs used in healthcare. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. The average biomedical engineer earns a median salary of just under $86K. The outlook is faster than average at 26% due to the baby boomers aging and the need for advancement in medical equipment and devices.
  • Marine Engineer: Naval ships from sailboats to tankers are designed by marine engineers. You’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering, or marine engineering technology. Internships are probably a really good idea because most employers want someone with some experience. The median annual salary for marine engineers is over $93K.
  • Chemical Engineer: Chemical engineers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Add an internship to your studies; employers like that. You’ll be using a little bit of chemistry, shaken with a bit of biology and physics, stirred up with some math to solve problems. The median pay is over $98K, and employment growth is pretty slow at 2% through 2024.
  • Aerospace Engineer: Aircrafts, spacecrafts, satellites, and missiles are all designed by you, an aerospace engineer. You also test the prototypes of the creations to see if the concept works. Pretty cool gig! A bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering is a must, or you can focus on another program in engineering or science as long as it’s related to aerospace. Your median annual salary is close to $110K. However, aerospace engineering is experiencing a decline in job growth despite the fact that many crafts need to be redesigned.
  • Architecture and Engineering Manager: Someone needs to plan, direct, and coordinate operations within an architectural firm or engineering company. It may as well be you, as long as you have a bachelor’s degree and some work as an architect or engineer. You’ll earn a median annual salary of over $134K. Job growth is slow, at 2% through 2024.


Highest Paying Math STEM Careers

  • Actuary: A bachelor’s degree along with the proper certifications will get your foot in the door to work as an actuary. You’ll use your background in math, statistics, and financial theory to determine the risks a company could face, and help them to develop policies to minimize those potentials. Your essential work gets you a nice yearly sum of over $100K. Job outlook is looking pretty bright for actuaries; it’s expected to grow 18% through 2024.
  • Mathematician: Your love of all things math translates to a high-paying career. Mathematicians earn an annual salary of over $111K. While there are only around 3,500 jobs, the career is expected to grow much faster than average at 21%.
  • Statistician: You’ll need a master’s degree in statistics, math, or another related field to work as a statistician. However, some entry-level positions only require you to have a bachelor’s degree. You help solve “real world” problems by using your crazy math skills to collect and analyze data. A massive growth in career outlook is expected at 34% through 2024. The median salary for statisticians is over $80K.
  • Personal Finance Advisor: You work with people to help them make wise investment choices, whether it’s for a mortgage, estate planning, college, or any other type of investment a person may want or need to make. Minimally, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in finance and the proper certifications. However, this is a very competitive field, so a master’s degree in finance may help you stand out over the competition. The median annual salary for this career is $90K, but extremely successful personal finance advisors can earn well into the six-figure salary. The employment growth outlook is tremendous, at 30% through 2024.
  • Financial Manager: An average job growth outlook is predicted for financial manager careers, so you’ll be more than likely facing some fierce competition for those job openings. You need to be prepared to be responsible for the financial health of a company with your bachelor’s degree, the proper certifications, and at least five years of work in a related field such as accounting, auditor, or financial analyst. The median salary is over $121K, with the top in the field making way over $200K.
  • Financial Analyst: Individuals and businesses alike very often need help making wise investment choices. You’ll help them by assessing the stock market, bonds, and other areas investments are made and choose what fits their portfolio and budget. Bachelor’s degrees are the minimum, but master’s degrees are preferred. Full-time financial analysts earn a median annual salary of over $81K, but many make well into the six figures. Job growth will be 12%, which is faster than the average 5-7%.


Unusual STEM Careers

  • Pastry Chef: Baking is part science and part art. And hey, there’s math too: You have to perfect the measurements. Getting the perfect combination of taste and texture isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are certificate through advanced degree programs available, and it’s best to choose one that is accredited. The median annual wage for bakers is over $25K.
  • Medical Illustrator: Most medical illustrators have a master’s degree from a 2-year medical illustration program. If this is the route you take, make sure you choose a program that’s accredited. This is a definitive STEAM career, mixing science and art. The work you create will be used in journals, for research, patient care, and so many other important areas. The average salary earned by medical illustrators is in the $80Ks. But, some freelance artists have earned far into the six figures. You’ll probably face a lot of competition because it’s a small yet emerging field.
  • Metalsmith: Molding metal to create objects from jewelry to sculptures to anywhere your metal mind can take you is what a metalsmith does. This career solders science (you have to understand how metals work and the science behind it) with art (you’re creating things). You can either work on the creative or technical side of the career. There isn’t a specifically set educational path for metalsmiths, but you can take welding in a trade school or community college. There are also many workshops available. Because it’s very much a freelance type of career, salaries run the gamut.
  • Gameplay Engineer: Gameplay engineers work long and hard to design the software programs for video games. Generally, a bachelor’s degree along with a few years of related work experience is necessary to land this type of job. Many make well over $100K annually.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker: Your job is to hack a company’s network to find where it’s vulnerable so it can be reinforced, keeping non-ethical hackers out. You need to have a robust understanding of computer science, as well as a certification or degree in a related field. Internet security experience is a must, and you should get your certification as a CEH. You can earn anywhere between $24K to over $111K.
  • Food and Flavor Chemist: There is a very slow job growth outlook predicted for this career, so there will be a lot of competition for the open jobs. A bachelor’s degree in food science is a must, with a strong knowledge base in microbiology, food chemistry, and other related food sciences. There are many specializations and certifications available to you in this field. Average salaries are around $65K.
  • 3D Printing Engineer: As of right now, there are very few courses or degrees specific to 3D Printing. Related careers are mechanical, electronic, and civil engineering, as well as industrial design. This is one of the rapidly emerging fields, and one that has tremendous potential to change our world as we know it. From organs for transplant to food, 3D technology is a game changer, and the opening doors seem limitless—and global.
  • Robotics Engineer: One career that is growing in momentum is robotics engineering. This STEAM career combines science, engineering, and math, along with a huge amount of creativity. You’re looking at a master’s degree minimally, but PhDs are available as well. Expect to earn around $95K after a few years of experience in the field. You’ll create robots and find new uses for them. The sky’s the limit in this increasingly evolving industry.
  • Underwater Archeologist: There are only around 15 universities worldwide that offer a degree in marine or underwater archeology. This career is part of archeology but with a major focus on the oceans and other bodies of water. All forms of life, from prehistoric to modern day have used the waterways for travel, and so some secrets are buried deep within the sandy beds of the water floors. Most have a master’s or doctorate in this field, along with in depth-related work experience. Salaries range between $30K-$90K. It is a highly competitive field because there aren’t many positions available.
  • Zoologist: As a zoologist, you get to hang out with animals, studying their behaviors and how they engage with their entire ecosystem created within the confines of the zoo. At the very minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in zoology. However, depending on how far you would like to move up, you’ll need to get a master’s degree or doctorate. The median salary is $60K, but some make close to $100K.
  • Pyrotechnic Engineer: Who doesn’t love fireworks? And just think, as a pyrotechnic engineer, you get to create those breathtaking shows, leaving people oohing and ahhing. To burst into this career, you need a degree in chemical engineering and to pass a safety certification course. You’ll earn an average salary of $76K.

There are so many different STEM careers available beyond what was listed here. One thing is certain, STEM fields are among some of the most interesting and lucrative job choices.

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