The current economic recession has encouraged many to reexamine their career paths. This type of reevaluation can be beneficial at any age. If you are a student, there are more reasons than ever to consider a major and career path in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. If you are a professional in a different field, studies have shown the majority of workers who change industries end up more satisfied in their new career.
A change in where the jobs are.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) projections can help guide your career plans. Their forecasts show that total employment is expected to increase by 10 percent from now through 2016. What will change significantly is where employment will be found. The BLS refers to “a long-term shift from goods-producing to service-providing employment.” This “shift” means there will be less demand for professionals who manufacture goods and more demand for professionals who provide services.
According to the BLS, demand for professional services in all areas is expected to rise. Professional and related workers perform a wide variety of duties and are employed throughout private industry and government. Those industries expected to experience the highest growth are education and health services, business services and information. Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services will grow by 28.8 percent and 2.1 million new jobs are expected to be added by 2016. Employment in computer systems design and related services will grow by 38.3 percent and account for nearly one-fourth of all new jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services. Almost three-quarters of the job growth will come from three groups of professional occupations—computer and mathematical occupations, healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, and education, training, and library occupations.
The National Science Foundation estimates that 80 percent of the jobs in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. This growth is predicted to be driven by the increasing reliance of business on IT and computer network development and security.
Opportunities for students.
There are a good amount of incentive programs in place to help students fund their education in math and science. Check out the U.S. Department of Education for grant and scholarship opportunities: http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml.
Opportunities for professionals looking to change careers,
Think about the way you approach a problem and devise a solution in everyday life. Are you an analytical thinker? Do you examine the discreet and indiscreet factors? These types of thinking processes are critical in the technical fields and you can use this to parlay your skills into the STEM fields. Continuing education opportunities are available for you – check out the National Academies Career Guides: http://nationalacademies.org/careerguides.html.