The Current State Of STEM In The United States

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are still a major focus for the education community. With jobs in these fields generally being much higher paying and in demand than in other fields, we’ve been focusing a lot on the importance of getting all students interested in these fields and understanding that there is opportunity there for everyone.

With all of this discussion and promotion of STEM in the United States and jobs in the associated fields, it can sometimes even feel like there’s a push to move students away from other fields, and from jobs that don’t require very specific STEM training. That said, its important to remember that there are a wide array of jobs that need to get done, and we’ll always need people to do them. Many of them are more STEM related than previously identified; Just because a particular job doesn’t require a graduate degree or a specialized type of degree beyond high school (for example: Engineers commonly need at least a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, if not a higher degree), doesn’t mean that it isn’t a STEM related job.

The handy infographic below from Fast Company takes a look at what they call the ‘hidden’ STEM economy. Using data from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, it takes a look at a number of jobs that are not commonly thought of as being STEM related, but actually are. The concept of both white collar and blue collar STEM jobs is relatively new. What jobs fall into the ‘blue collar STEM’ category? Keep reading to learn more.

The ‘Hidden’ STEM Economy

  • Many blue collar and technical jobs require considerable STEM knowledge – about 50% of STEM jobs do not require a Bachelor’s degree
  • STEM jobs make up about 20% of all US jobs, or about 26 million jobs
  • The percentage of jobs requiring STEM knowledge has doubled since the industrial revolution
  • STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher pay about 14% more than non STEM jobs with similar educational requirements
  • STEM jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree pay about 10% more than non STEM jobs with similar educational requirements
  • Some cities with high concentrations of STEM jobs are DC, San Jose, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Palm Bay
  • Cities with high concentrations of STEM jobs exhibit a better growth rate, lower unemployment, a higher median household income, and more exports as a share of the GDP than communities with lower numbers of STEM jobs

Blue-Collar STEM Jobs

Many jobs that don’t require at least a bachelor’s degree are most often not categorized as being STEM jobs, even if they require considerable STEM knowledge. Some examples of oft-overlooked STEM jobs are:

  • Auto Techs and Mechanics
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Machinists
  • Plumbers
  • Welders


STEM jobs