Careers

Where to Find STEM-Related Jobs

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Graduation is just around the corner for college undergrads. For those who are not planning on going to graduate school, their mission at this point is to find a job. Some may have already secured employment due to internships that will transfer into full-time employment. Others will work with their college’s placement office to find leads. One group that will have excellent job potential includes STEM graduates.

“What is STEM?” you may ask. It’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. A formal definition explains:


STEM is an educational program developed to prepare primary and secondary students for college and graduate study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to subject-specific learning, STEM aims to foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, and collaboration skills. ...

Educators break STEM down into seven standards of practice (or skill sets) for educating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students:

- Learn and apply content

- Integrate content

- Interpret and communicate information

- Engage in inquiry

- Engage in logical reasoning

- Collaborate as a team

- Apply technology appropriately

Our exploding technological culture is creating great demand for those who have the talent, skills and experience to deal with the demands of a fast-evolving technical world.

This year’s STEM graduates must decide where they will look for or accept their jobs. The other day, I received an interesting report: 2019’s Best & Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals. WalletHub’s financial writer, Adam McCann, has put together some valuable data for anyone looking for STEM-related work. Let’s take a look at what his report says.

There appears to be quite a bit of good news, if you’re involved in these fields:

STEM workers are in fierce demand, and not just in the global epicenter of high tech known as Silicon Valley. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — professions grew at over twice the rate that non-STEM jobs did between 2009 and 2015. Most types of STEM jobs will also expand faster than all other occupations until 2024.

Given their growing demand, STEM careers today provide some of the most lucrative employment opportunities. They pay higher salaries and boast far fewer threats of unemployment compared with other types of jobs. According to the latest BLS statistics, medical scientists can expect the most graduate-level job openings at around 12,100 per year. Biochemists and biophysicists enjoy the highest median wage, at $91,190.

To determine the best markets for STEM professionals, WalletHub compared the 100 largest metro areas across 20 key metrics. Our data set ranges from per-capita job openings for STEM graduates to annual median wage growth for STEM jobs to projected demand for STEM workers by 2020.

The report tallies the Top 100 best cities for these jobs. Below, I’ve excerpted the top 25, so you can get a feel for where the best action is. Scroll down the entire list to see if you’re near or looking into any of the hot locations. Check the explanation on methodology to clarify why certain areas rank as they do.

Here’s a snapshot of the report’s results:

Best Metro Areas for STEM Pros

1. Seattle, Wash.

2. Boston, Mass.

3. Pittsburgh, Pa.

4. Austin, Texas

5. San Francisco, Calif.

6. Madison, Wis.

7. Atlanta, Ga.

8. Salt Lake City, Utah

9. Minneapolis, Minn.

10. Cincinnati, Ohio

Worst Metro Areas for STEM Pros

91. Toledo, Ohio

92. McAllen, Texas

93. Augusta, Ga.

94. Stockton, Calif.

95. Deltona, Fla.

96. Little Rock, Ark.

97. Memphis, Tenn.

98. Jackson, Miss.

99. North Port, Fla.

100. Cape Coral, Fla.

Here is a full top 25 cities list that includes ranking data:

The rank number and city name are followed by columns that detail total score, “professional opportunities” rank, “STEM friendliness” rank and “quality of life” rank.

1. Seattle, Wash. 74.59, Opportunities: 1, Job friendliness: 3, Quality of life: 20

2. Boston, Mass. 68.18, Opportunities: 5, Job friendliness: 1, Quality of life: 74

3. Pittsburgh, Pa. 67.84, Opportunities: 10, Job friendliness: 15, Quality of life: 5

4. Austin, Texas 64.60, Opportunities: 8, Job friendliness: 14, Quality of life: 25

5. San Francisco, Calif. 64.49, Opportunities: 3, job friendliness: 5, Quality of life: 60

6. Madison, Wis. 63.59, Opportunities: 16, Job friendliness: 23, Quality of life: 15

7. Atlanta, Ga. 63.50, Opportunities: 7, Job friendliness: 27, Quality of life: 24

8. Salt Lake City, Utah 63.23, Opportunities: 6, Job friendliness: 26, Quality of life: 23

9. Minneapolis, Minn. 63.07, Opportunities: 26, Job friendliness: 12, Quality of life: 17

10. Cincinnati, Ohio 61.81, Opportunities: 22, Job friendliness: 34, Quality of life: 13

11. San Diego, Calif. 61.43, Opportunities: 45, Job friendliness: 18, Quality of life: 12

12. Columbus, Ohio 61.08, Opportunities: 36, Job friendliness: 22, Quality of life: 16

13. Hartford, Conn. 60.44, Opportunities: 14, Job friendliness: 17, Quality of life: 10

14. Springfield, Mass. 59.75, Opportunities: 85, Job friendliness: 2, Quality of life: 11

15. Worcester, Mass. 59.46, Opportunities: 28, Job friendliness: 6, Quality of life: 63

16. Orlando, Fla. 59.09, Opportunities: 9, Job friendliness: 38, Quality of life: 27

17. Chicago, Ill. 58.87, Opportunities: 57, Job friendliness: 16, Quality of life: 21

18. Sacramento, Calif. 58.68, Opportunities: 52, Job friendliness: 9, Quality of life: 32

19. San Jose, Calif. 57.27, Opportunities: 25, Job friendliness: 7, Quality of life: 61

20. Raleigh, N.C. 56.00, Opportunities: 4, Job friendliness: 58, Quality of life: 43

21. Denver, Colo. 55.54, Opportunities: 13, Job friendliness: 30, Quality of life: 55

22. Dayton, Ohio 55.39, Opportunities: 17, Job friendliness: 40, Quality of life: 1

23. Tucson, Ariz. 54.94, Opportunities: 34, Job friendliness: 49, Quality of life: 26

24. St. Louis, Mo. 54.91, Opportunities: 11, Job friendliness: 52, Quality of life: 37

25. Portland, Ore. 54.86, Opportunities: 30, Job friendliness: 39, Quality of life: 31

Next are seven very interesting and helpful “highest” and “lowest” rating categories. Here are four of those seven:

Percentage of Workforce in STEM:

Highest = San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

Lowest = McAllen-Edinberg-Mission, Texas

Highest STEM Employment Growth:

Highest = Provo-Orem, Utah

Lowest = New Haven-Milford, Conn.

Highest Math Performance:

Highest = Worcester, Mass.-Conn. & Boston-Cambridge-Newton-Springfield, Mass.

Lowest = Baton Rouge-New Orleans-Metairie, La.

Highest Annual Median Wage for STEM workers:

Highest = Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas

Lowest = Honolulu, Hawaii

You can also “Ask the Experts” (by clicking on their pictures) to get their insights:

Like all professions, STEM occupations pose challenges to graduates who wish to pursue such careers. For guidance, we asked a panel of experts to share their advice for both job seekers and local governments that stand to benefit from growth in the field. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

- How do STEM graduates perform in the labor market relative to graduates from other fields?

 - According to recent census figures, the majority of STEM graduates do not ultimately work in a STEM occupation. Why is that the case?

 - How can the U.S. stay ahead of other countries in attracting and training the best STEM professionals?

 - How can local authorities make their cities more appealing to STEM graduates and technology companies?

 - How can government, employers and educators increase the number of women and minorities in STEM fields?

There is also a very cool interactive map that reveals the various cities and their rankings with just a rollover of your mouse.

I wish that I'd had a resource like this whenever I was a college senior. Of course, my program of emphasis was in the liberal arts, and like today, for the most part, liberal arts graduates can’t compete at the opportunity and income level with STEM graduates.

However, if you are a STEM-related college senior or even junior, this WalletHub survey should be able to help you narrow your job search and optimize your entry into the “real world.” Take a look at the complete report. You may be surprised at what you find.