There seems to be a common belief amongst Americans that we don’t do science or math that well. Read many of the articles floating around on the internet and you’ll notice the majority of them make the point that our universities aren’t producing enough STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates. The actual truth behind those beliefs is debatable. For every article about a shortage in American STEM workers, there is an article that pushes back, saying we have plenty of qualified people here, but corporations prefer to import their talent from overseas. That debate will continue. What isn’t up for debate is how much more STEM graduates make in comparison to their peers. Engineers make up seven of the top ten highest paying college majors.
Discerning readers who follow the news will no doubt feel themselves instantly compelled to defend humanities graduates. There are definitely jobs to be had for liberal arts majors, it’s just that it’s hard to refute that STEM graduates make much more money immediately following graduation (if they do end up employed). It’s rare to find the liberal arts major that gets picked up for a near six figure salary immediately upon finishing school. For engineers, this is fairly common. Now before anyone gets the impression that a STEM degree is a magic bullet, it’s important to point out that there are some things you should know before fantasizing about a future around laboratory supply equipment:
You’ll spend a lot of time in school
An education in the sciences is quite time-consuming and that’s not just counting the fact that you’ll be spending most of your time buried in books or trying to schedule time in the lab. The biggest benefits of STEM degrees only really present themselves after obtaining graduate degrees. Only earning a bachelor’s, while still beneficial to your career, often isn’t enough to get the highest paying jobs in scientific or technical fields. While you’ll be making over six figures, you’ll have to put the time in and maybe complete about eight years of post-high school education.
You’ll spend money to make money
We all know the truism “it takes money to make money.” In this case, you’re making an investment. Going to college for so many years and going to a ranked school is going to cost some serious bucks. If you’re like almost everyone else, that means taking out loans you’ll be repaying for years. While the idea is you’ll be making such a hefty salary that it’ll be worth it, it’s still important to point out that there is quite the debt burden involved when pursuing a STEM career. Between fees for lab equipment, time invested, and general college related expenses, you’ll need that big salary.
Kids just starting to think about college would be wise to give a STEM degree some serious consideration. They take a lot of work and discipline, but the financial rewards will be worth it. With so much uncertainty in the economy, it’s important to maximize your earning potential.
About the author: James Cash is professional writer with interests in the science and mathematics fields.
Image Licence: Royalty Free or iStock | Source