Despite the potential to build a fulfilling and lucrative career in STEM industries, there is a noticeable reduction in the number of people who pursue these opportunities in comparison to other fields, such as law, accounting and finance. 

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) offer graduates the chance to work in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Information Technology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotech
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Energy
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Engineering management and many, many more

Despite this, there has been a shortage of STEM graduates in recent years. In response to this, governments, colleges and universities have used additional resources to highlight the potential and possibilities associated with a career in STEM. 

Use STEM to Travel the World

There are many misconceptions surrounding STEM subjects and careers. Many people don’t assume that a STEM will involve international travel, for example. In reality, you can travel the world when you qualify in STEM subjects and your skills will be in high demand across virtually every continent. In the Middle East, for example, there is a growing demand for highly skilled STEM workers. As well as encouraging students to pursue these opportunities domestic, companies are also recruiting from overseas. This means that graduates from the UK, USA and other regions can use their professional skills to broaden their horizons and travel the world. 

Building a Career in STEM

Although there are plenty of opportunities within STEM industries, this doesn’t necessarily mean that building a successful career will be plain sailing. If you want to reach the top, you’ll face competition from other candidates and STEM professionals. However, there are ways you can increase your employability within STEM fields, such as:

1. Getting a STEM Degree

If you’re considering going to college or university, qualifying in a STEM subject will stand you in good stead. Whether you’re a budding scientist, a talented mathematician, a tech genius or a skilled engineer, there are plenty of undergraduate courses that can help you to develop the skills you need. 

Many companies offer STEM graduate roles, so obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in a relevant subject can ensure you qualify for future job opportunities. A graduate often fast-tracks your career, so choosing to qualify in a STEM subject can help you to climb the career ladder and take on more responsibility quickly. 

Remember – you don’t have to attend college or university straight out of high school. If you’ve taken your time to decide what industry is right for you or if you’re thinking about changing careers, you can obtain the qualifications you need as a mature student. The skills you’ve already gained will easily be transferable, so your additional experience may even help you to impress potential employers. 

2. Gain Experience

The more experience you have in relevant fields, the easier you’ll find it to secure a job in your chosen industry. This is true of virtually any career and it applies to STEM-related industries too. Formal work experience opportunities, like vacation schemes and internships, are a great way to gain experience. As well as giving you an insight into what the day-to-day rigors of working in STEM involve, you’ll also get to see a variety of different roles in action. This will enable you to make an informed decision about what specialties you might be interested in or what roles will suit you best. 

In addition to applying for internships and vacation schemes, you can also gain experience in other ways. Taking a part-time role in a relevant industry could allow you to develop your skills and highlight your commitment to the industry, for example. Alternatively, you may find that there are volunteer roles which relate to your STEM aspirations. If so, this can be a useful way to strengthen your skillset and gain the experience you need. 

3. Complete a Postgrad Qualification

If you want to attain a top role in your chosen industry, obtaining a postgraduate qualification will give you the credentials you need. Furthermore, the right qualification will allow you to hone your skills and teach you how to manage teams, departments and even entire companies. 

However, the benefits you will gain are dependent on selecting the right postgraduate course. If you’re already an established engineer, for example, you’ll need to decide whether a broad MBA or a more specialized MSEM will be more advantageous. To get a better idea of what type of qualification can boost your career opportunities, click here and find out more about the difference between an MBA and an MSEM now. 

Many STEM subjects offer specialist training opportunities and qualifications, so it’s well worth seeking out these courses. When you can combine management training with STEM-specific issues, you can ensure that you’re well-prepared to take on leading roles within STEM industries. 

4. Build a Professional Network

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already enjoying an established career, it’s important to consistently focus on building your professional network. Making connections within your industry will allow you to learn from others, share your own experiences and attract new opportunities. 

Although there are strict recruitment processes in place to avoid favoritism or nepotism, getting to know people in the industry certainly won’t hamper your chances of securing top roles. In fact, your professional network may be able to alert you when a job role becomes available or provide references and feedback to potential employers. 

If you’re eager to build your professional network, there are plenty of ways to do so. As well as attending industry events and academic conferences, you can connect with other professionals online and strengthen your network virtually too. 

5. Highlight Transferable Skills

Many STEM roles require specialized skills, but this doesn’t mean that transferable skills are worthless. In fact, it is transferable skills that can make you a prime candidate for managerial roles and promotions within STEM industries.

Transferable skills can typically be applied to a variety of roles and industries, and may include:

  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Teamwork
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Listening
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Personability
  • Research 
  • Analysis
  • Delegation

As you can see, these transferable skills aren’t only advantageous in STEM fields. However, they are essential if you want to be a successful supervisor, manager or CEO. If you want to reach the top in your STEM career, honing your transferable skills and showcasing them to potential employers can help you to secure high-powered roles.

6. Enhance Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand is the unique combination of your personality, talents, skills and experience. Essentially, it’s the traits that you want people to see, particularly in the workplace. Enhancing your personal brand should increase your employability and enable you to secure a wider range of job roles. Similarly, a strong personal brand can help you to build a professional reputation and establish a positive status within your industry.

If you want to create or enhance your personal brand, it’s important to think strategically. Identify your natural skillset, as well as the areas in which you want to work. Similarly, spend time thinking about what you want to be known for. This refers to your character and personality, as well as your career or academic profile. Being a good listener and motivator can be just as important as being academically qualified when you’re leading a team, for example. 

As you begin to strengthen your personal brand, it’s time to share it with the world. You can do this by taking part in industry events, rather than just attending as a delegate. Similarly, getting your work published in sector-specific magazines and journals can help you to build a profile. 

In today’s digital landscape, the internet provides a great way to build and share your personal brand. You can create original content, increase social media activity and collaborate with other professionals on dedicated platforms, for example. 

Making the Most of a STEM Career

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics cover a broad spectrum of specialties. With so many sectors under the STEM umbrella, your future career can be as varied as you choose. Advancing technology means that STEM job roles will be more available than ever in the future, so the high demand for skilled STEM workers should ensure widespread opportunities. There are many more benefits associated with STEM careers, such as:

  • High levels of job satisfaction
  • Increased demand for STEM professionals
  • Ability to specialize in niche fields
  • Opportunity to impact society
  • High salaries

In addition to this, working in STEM industries gives you the opportunity to work in a number of different ways. You may want to join a company and rise to the top, for example, or you may decide to join the public sector and work as part of a government department or agency. In addition to this, you could decide to work as a subcontractor or freelancer and act as a consultant. Furthermore, you may decide that academia is the right option for you and educate the next generation about STEM subjects. 

With so many advantages and opportunities associated with STEM industries, it’s easy to see why more people are choosing to specialize in these areas. By doing so, you can look forward to an exciting, lucrative and wholly rewarding career.