Two people working on a device with masks on. What Is STEM?

What Is STEM? The Importance of STEM Education

Most people have heard of the acronym STEM before, but few people fully understand the importance and impact that workers in these fields have on our society. Subjects under the STEM umbrella include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are many sub-topics, including physical sciences and digital technologies.

STEM careers are vast and wide-reaching, but all of them are crucially important to understanding and improving our society. If you’re interested in pursuing a STEM career or learning more about these fields, take a look at our guide below. Learn what STEM is, how to learn STEM topics, and the highest-paying stem careers.

What Does STEM Stand For?

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It consists of all subjects that fall under these disciplines. The term has been popularized due to the lack of qualified graduates working in the field. Some STEM subjects include computer science, electrical engineering, psychology, physics, mechanical engineering, and statistics.

What’s the Difference Between STEM and STEAM?

The main difference between STEM and STEAM is their method of approach. STEM focuses on core scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical skills to create concepts and solve problems. STEAM, on the other hand, includes fields like arts and social sciences to deepen the understanding of STEM. 

STEAM incorporates “art” in its acronym to represent the way artistic and creative thinking are important aspects of problem-solving in every field. STEM teaches skills using real-life examples and hands-on learning, while STEAM emphasizes the combination of both hard and soft skills. 

What Is STEM Education?

A high-quality STEM education is the training of students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The curriculum is typically based on real-life applications, with projects and activities that involve the use of modern technology and highlight the practical applications of science.

STEM covers a wide range of disciplines, from statistics to healthcare to aviation, and is an important field in the world today. It allows students to apply the knowledge of various science fields to help them solve problems in real-life situations. A STEM education could include anything from an online engineering degree to a chemistry certification.

Women in STEM

Because of outdated stereotypes, men have long dominated traditional STEM fields. Women are less likely to start a career in a STEM field and more likely than their male coworkers to quit. Recently, there has been a cultural push to close the gender gap in STEM and celebrate achievements women have contributed to the field.

Women like Ada Lovelace, Edith Clarke, and Ellen Ochoa have taken steps to encourage more women to have careers in STEM fields. Women like Elizabeth Blackburn, who received a Nobel Prize for her discovery of telomerase, and Cynthia Brezreal, who is known for inventing Kismet, have broken barriers and changed the narrative of women in STEM. 

Regardless, the rate of women who earn STEM degrees and go on to STEM careers is still relatively low compared to men. Women also earn significantly lower incomes than their male counterparts. The United States Census Bureau reports that men in STEM earn a median salary of $82,433, while women only earn a median salary of $65,595.

 The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women make up less than 20 percent of software developers in the STEM industry. While the numbers have increased over the years, women still have a long way to go before having equal opportunities in male-dominated fields like STEM. 

Why Should You Go into STEM?

You should go into STEM because these subjects play a significant role in the advancement of society as we know it today. STEM is responsible for the technology we use, healthcare treatments, roads, buildings, and much more. You can find more reasons to pursue a career in the field below.

  • Job security. Due to the increasing demand for STEM professionals, it is easier to start a successful career in these fields. In addition, education in a STEM subject can lead to a job in almost any industry. 
  • High salary. STEM occupations tend to offer high salaries, even in entry-level STEM jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of STEM workers is $89,780, while other occupations have a median salary of $40,020. 
  • Transferable skills. The skills learned while studying and working in this field can be transferred from one industry to another. While it may not be particularly easy to switch careers, it is more achievable than with other fields. This is because most STEM-related fields focus on the same problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Less competition. There are thousands of available jobs in the STEM field and not enough qualified people to fill them. You would have the advantage of landing a good job and starting a rewarding career with little competition.
  • Social impact. The bulk of STEM careers are vital to the progress of society. Engineers, web developers, mathematicians all play a role in the advancement of society and develop new ways to improve life as we know it.

The Best Online STEM Programs

Two people holding down taped wires What Is STEM?
STEM encourages transferable skills, which means you have many STEM career prospects.

Continuing technological advances combined with increasing demand from students interested in learning STEM-related skills have led to a wide variety of online educational resources. Read below for more information about the many online programs available for students to learn necessary skills and start a career in STEM.

STEM Degrees

Many STEM careers will require you to have a traditional degree if you want to succeed. These are a great way to gain the necessary knowledge and basic skills needed to become a professional in a field. There are numerous STEM degrees that you can pursue, including computer engineering degrees, software development degrees, and data analytics degrees.

STEM Courses

Short online courses help you make headway in your career by increasing your knowledge of your field and improving your skills to ensure you’re always up-to-date on industry trends. Some examples of short online courses include Coursera’s The Science of STEM cells, Udemy’s Linux Administration Bootcamp, and edX’s Quantitative Methods for Biology.

STEM Bootcamps

Online bootcamps are short-term educational programs that offer intensive training in specialized industry skills. A STEM bootcamp offers programs that will help you start a career in a short time, usually in a tech field like coding. They focus on technical and in-demand skills to ensure that their bootcamp grads are hirable and land good jobs after graduation. 

Most In-Demand STEM Careers

STEM professionals are all especially hirable, but some careers are still more in-demand than others. This list will take you through the most in-demand STEM careers and their minimum education requirements, job growth rates, and average salaries. The job growth rate refers to the percentage of new jobs between 2019 and 2029.

Job Title Minimum Education Job Growth Rate Average Salary
Statistician and Mathematician Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics or Statistics 33% $93,290
Information Security Analyst Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related field 31% $103,590
Data Analyst Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Business, Engineering, or related field 25% $86,200
Software Developer Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Technology 22%
Computer Information Research Scientist Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related field 15% $126,830
IT Manager Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Information Science 10% $151,150
Database Administrator Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or related field 10% $98,860
Web Developer Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Programming 8% $77,200
Computer Systems Analyst Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or Computer Programming 7% $93,730
Chemist Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry 5% $80,680

Should You Pursue a STEM Education?

Yes, you should pursue a STEM education because it will provide many benefits for your career. As an individual practicing in any STEM field, you’ll have job security, a high salary, and many career opportunities. You’ll also conclude your education with transferable skills, which means you are not limited to a single career option. 

STEM Programs and STEM Jobs FAQ

What is STEM education and why is it important?

STEM education consists of all four STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education is important because it instills in students the relevant skills to make them more hirable and job-ready to meet the industry’s demand.

What are the benefits of STEM?

STEM benefits include increasing student creativity, encouraging teamwork, increasing innovation, boosting confidence, improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills, an abundance of job opportunities, and more.

What are STEM skills?

STEM skills include experimentation, observational skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, and engineering skills, among others.

What is STEM in high school?

STEM in high school is an educational program that is designed to build knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and prepare students for college or graduate study programs.

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