Best STEM Careers

Explore the top STEM-related careers.

If you’re looking for high-paying work with plenty of job opportunities, consider careers in the STEM field. Standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM careers had median wages in 2020 that were more than double that of non-STEM occupations, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plus, they are expected to grow at more than twice the rate of other occupations in the upcoming years.

STEM-related careers can be found in industries ranging from technology to health care to business. Keep reading for a STEM careers list that includes some of the top jobs in the field. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Salary: $84,810
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 24.8%

Often employed in the finance and insurance sector, many operations research analysts are business professionals with STEM skills. They may also be employed by scientific and technical services firms, manufacturers or the government. Some jobs can also be found in health care.

The core of this job is problem-solving, and operations research analysts must have a strong grasp of mathematical and statistical models. Workers use this knowledge to analyze data and make recommendations that will improve the efficiency of a business or organization. A bachelor’s degree is the standard education for professionals in this field.

Learn more about operations research analysts.

Psychiatrist

Median Salary: $208,000
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 11.9%

Psychiatrists are highly compensated physicians who specialize in mental health. While they may provide personal counseling as part of their services, these professionals should not be confused with psychologists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who go through additional training to be able to diagnose and treat mental illnesses.

As a STEM career, psychiatrists focus on the science behind what causes mental illness and disorders. They may prescribe medication or use other interventions to help their patients. Jobs for psychiatrists can be found in health care clinics, hospitals or specialized psychiatric care settings.

Learn more about psychiatrists.

Pilot

Median Salary: $121,430
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.8%

Pilots can choose from two different career paths. They may work as airline pilots who transport passengers or cargo on a regular schedule. Or they can be commercial pilots. These pilots can be hired for a variety of tasks such as flying private clients to destinations, crop dusting or providing aerial tours.

Either way, pilots must have a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Commercial pilots typically must have at least a high school diploma and complete a flight training program. Airline pilots need a bachelor’s degree and an Airline Transport Pilot certificate from the FAA as well.

Learn more about pilots.

Cartographer

Median Salary: $65,470
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.5%

Cartographers have an often-overlooked STEM career. While map-making may seem like a quaint occupation from the past, it is actually a high-tech field that relies on GIS, light-imaging detection and ranging technology and satellite imagery. Today’s cartographers must be comfortable with computers as they create maps to be used by the government, private businesses and the public.

About a third of cartographers work for local governments, the BLS says. Others may be hired by architectural firms, state and federal agencies or scientific and technical consulting firms. A bachelor’s degree in cartography or a related subject is the standard education for this occupation.

Learn more about cartographers.

Financial Advisor

Median Salary: $87,850
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.4%

Those who like working with numbers may find that being a financial advisor is the right job for them. These professionals often provide comprehensive services to help people effectively manage money. They may help their clients create budgets, evaluate investments or plan for retirement.

While the majority of personal financial advisors are employed by financial firms, the BLS notes that about 1 in 5 is self-employed. For those who work for themselves, being a financial advisor can be a flexible career choice since you can choose when and how to meet with clients. A bachelor’s degree is the standard education for this occupation, although some employers may prefer to hire those with a master’s degree.

Learn more about financial advisors.

Mechanical Engineer

Median Salary: $88,430
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 3.9%

When you think of STEM careers, engineer may be among the first occupations to come to mind. And mechanical engineers are among the best STEM jobs available. These professionals may be employed by architectural firms, manufacturers and scientific research companies, among others.

Mechanical engineers can be hired for diverse jobs. They may be tasked with everything from helping to design the mechanical elements of a building to creating a new medical device. Regardless of their specific duties, mechanical engineers are problem-solvers who use their knowledge of math, science and engineering to develop innovative solutions. A bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering is the standard education required for the occupation.

Learn more about mechanical engineers.

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Median Salary: $68,410
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 16.9%

When someone loses a limb or has a condition that makes walking difficult, they turn to orthotists and prosthetists for assistance. Prosthetists combine their knowledge of science and engineering to design and create artificial limbs while orthotists fit patients with braces or other supportive devices.

This occupation is growing fast to meet the needs of an aging population, and orthotists and prosthetists need to stay abreast of the latest technology. To enter the field, you’ll need a master’s degree. Plus, a residency is required before workers are certified. Some states require orthotists and prosthetists be licensed as well.

Learn more about orthotists and prosthetists.

Physical Therapist

Median Salary: $89,440
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 18.2%

Physical therapists may be called upon to address everything from poor posture to athletic injuries to chronic back pain. As highly trained medical professionals, these workers create and implement rehabilitation programs that may include exercises and stretching. Equipment may also be used to help restore a patient’s strength or range of motion.

To work as a physical therapist, you’ll need a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and state licensure. About a third of therapists work in physical therapy practices, according to the BLS, but others may be employed by hospitals or as home health care workers.

Learn more about physical therapists.

Occupational Therapist

Median Salary: $84,950
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 15.9%

Sometimes confused with physical therapy, occupational therapy is concerned with helping people regain or improve their ability to perform everyday tasks. They may work with people who have a disability or who are recovering from an illness or injury. Occupational therapists help their clients develop goals — such as bathing independently or adapting to new medical equipment — and then design a plan to meet those goals.

Occupational therapists need a master’s degree, and all states require therapists be licensed. The BLS notes that a quarter of occupational therapists are employed by hospitals. Others may work in different health care settings such as therapy offices, home health care or nursing homes.

Learn more about occupational therapists.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Median Salary: $208,000
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 2.4%

You might see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to have wisdom teeth removed, but they can do much more. These professionals specialize in operations related to the mouth, jaw, head and neck. They may repair cleft lips, diagnose certain cancers and perform cosmetic surgeries.

As with other surgeons, these professionals have a high level of training and are likewise compensated. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons may start as dentists and then spend another four to six years receiving additional training. They may be self-employed and own their own practice or work in a larger clinic or health care center.

Learn more about oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

Financial Manager

Median Salary: $129,890
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 15.5%

If you’re looking for STEM careers that pay well but don’t require extensive schooling, financial managers have an occupation to consider. These workers earn six-digit median salaries, but employers generally only require a bachelor’s degree plus work experience. What’s more, job opportunities are expected to be robust in the coming years.

Financial managers oversee a company or organization’s finances. They may head up a team that takes care of budgeting, forecasting and reporting. As part of their job, financial managers must be able to analyze and interpret data so they can make wise recommendations that will improve their employer’s financial situation.

Learn more about financial managers.

Information Security Analyst

Median Salary: $99,730
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 31.2%

Cybersecurity has become a prime concern for businesses of all kinds, and companies turn to information security analysts to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access of their networks. They also monitor for security issues and coordinate the appropriate response. To do their job, workers obviously need to be familiar with technology, but they must also have critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Information security analysts may be employed by companies in diverse sectors, such as business, government and health care. A bachelor’s degree is the standard education for this occupation, and employers may prefer to hire analysts with a background related to their company’s field.

Learn more about information security analysts.

Anesthesiologist

Median Salary: $208,000
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 0.5%

No one wants to wake up on the operating table, and it’s the anesthesiologist’s job to make sure they don’t. These professionals are highly trained — and well compensated — to ensure that patients receive the right amount of general or regional anesthesia to reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort during medical procedures.

While jobs for anesthesiologists are expected to remain steady in the coming years with little growth, it’s also a field with nearly no unemployment. That helps this occupation land on this STEM careers list. In addition to hospital operating rooms, anesthesiologists are needed in a variety of health care settings for both outpatient and inpatient procedures.

Learn more about anesthesiologists.

IT Manager

Median Salary: $146,360
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 10.4%

As computer specialists, IT managers have a job that is focused on the “T” of STEM. They are responsible for overseeing an organization’s current computer technology and anticipating future needs. These professionals may also be known as computer and information services managers or information technology managers.

To work as an IT manager, you first need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a similar field. Then, many employers look for managers who have previous work experience in an IT job. For some roles, such as that of a chief technology officer, a graduate degree or extensive experience may be required.

Learn more about IT managers.

Orthodontist

Median Salary: $208,000
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 2.4%

Most people know orthodontists as the professionals who fit patients with braces, but they may use a variety of treatments to address issues related to the jaw and teeth. These include straightening teeth as well as correcting overbites and underbites.

Orthodontists may start their careers as dentists before entering a residency program for additional training. As with other dental professionals, orthodontists must be licensed by their state to practice. They may work for themselves or find a position as part of a larger practice. In addition to having a job that pays well, orthodontists typically enjoy a low-stress work environment that is conducive to a positive work-life balance.

Learn more about orthodontists.

Veterinarian

Median Salary: $95,460
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 15.9%

As Americans continue to embrace pet ownership, job growth for veterinarians is expected to be strong in the coming years. This is also an occupation that offers above-average income and has virtually no unemployment, according to the BLS.

Veterinarians provide care for not only pets but other animals as well. They may specialize in treating livestock or exotic animals or work in the area of food safety. As technology advances, veterinarians have implemented new ways of examining, diagnosing and treating animals, such as the use of high-tech imaging equipment or the latest surgical techniques. A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and state license is required to work as a veterinarian.

Learn more about veterinarians.

Dentist

Median Salary: $155,600
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 2.8%

From filling cavities to addressing gum disease, dentists help patients maintain good oral health. They may be general practitioners or specialize in an area such as pediatrics. However, regardless of their practice focus, all dentists need a doctoral degree and state licensure.

As one of the best STEM related careers, dentists benefit from high pay and above-average flexibility when it comes to determining their working hours and conditions. In fact, the BLS says many dentists work fewer than 40 hours per week. They may be self-employed, work in dental offices or even find jobs with the government or other health care clinics.

Learn more about dentists.

Data Scientist

Median Salary: $94,280
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 30.9%

Data scientists have one of the newer STEM careers. They are workers who are adept at taking the large quantities of data being generated today and analyzing it to provide information that can be used by decision-makers. Data scientists may find jobs with startups, established companies, health care providers, the government or elsewhere.

The jobs of data scientists are intertwined with technology, and these workers may benefit from having a background that includes experience with computer programming and statistics. A bachelor’s degree is typically required for most positions.

Learn more about data scientists.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Median Salary: $79,120
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 24.9%

Often called speech therapists, speech-language pathologists are experts in the field of communication and swallowing disorders. They often work with children who have speech and language delays, but they are also called upon to help adults recovering from illnesses such as strokes or brain injuries. As part of their job, they may evaluate patients, identify an appropriate treatment plan and implement that plan.

Speech-language pathologists are often employed by schools, but jobs are also available at therapy offices, hospitals and nursing homes. A master’s degree is the standard education in the field, and many states require therapists be licensed.

Learn more about speech-language pathologists.

Statistician

Median Salary: $91,160
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 34.6%

Statisticians have one of the fastest-growing jobs on this STEM careers list, and that’s because employers across industries understand the value of these professionals. A statistician can collect, analyze and interpret data so it can be used to make decisions that will improve an organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Workers may be employed by research agencies, the federal government, health care providers, insurance companies and colleges and universities. They may work independently or as part of a larger team. Most positions require a master’s degree, although some statisticians have a bachelor’s degree.

Learn more about statisticians.

Physician

Median Salary: $206,500
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.3%

Physicians are well-compensated medical experts. They understand the science behind how the body works and can diagnose and treat a variety of ailments. Physicians may be family medicine practitioners who provide general care to patients of all ages, or they may specialize in a specific type of medicine such as pediatrics or emergency care.

To gain the knowledge and expertise needed for their jobs, doctors spend four years in medical school plus another three to nine years in residency and internship programs. Those who want to specialize may need even further education.

Learn more about physicians.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Median Salary: $100,980
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 31.5%

Medical and health services managers combine business savvy with technical know-how. They are problem-solvers and should have good analytical skills to do their job well. Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care clinics hire them to oversee operations and keep an organization running smoothly.

While a bachelor’s degree is often considered the standard education for this occupation, medical and health services managers may also have master’s degrees. Many workers have a background or education in a health care field. Some positions, such as those of nursing home administrators, require state licensure as well.

Learn more about medical and health services managers.

Nurse Practitioner

Median Salary: $109,820
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 52.4%

Commanding six-digit incomes and expected to see a whopping 52% job growth in the coming years, nurse practitioners have one of the top careers in the STEM field. These health care professionals are highly trained and, depending on the state, able to perform many of the same functions as physicians. They can examine patients, diagnosis illnesses and prescribe medicines.

Nurse practitioners fall under the umbrella of advanced practice registered nurses and must have a master’s degree, a registered nursing license and, in most states, a national certification. A Doctor of Nursing Practice is also available and may be preferred by some employers.

Learn more about nurse practitioners.

Software Developer

Median Salary: $107,510
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 21.5%

Software developers have the top technology job in the country, according to the 2021 U.S. News Best Jobs rankings. Workers in this field create software for both applications and systems, and they are rewarded for their expertise with median incomes that exceed six figures.

A bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a similar field is required for most positions. Software developers may be employed by technology firms, manufacturers and software publishers among others. This is a job that lends itself well to remote work and scores high for flexibility.

Learn more about software developers.

Physician Assistant

Median Salary: $112,260
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 31.3%

Like nurse practitioners, physician assistants can perform many of the functions of a doctor. They can conduct examinations, make diagnoses and recommend treatment. In many cases, they can also write necessary prescriptions.

Physician assistants can check off a lot of boxes when it comes to having a top job. They are paid well, enjoy low unemployment and are expected to see job opportunities grow in the years to come. While a master’s degree is needed for this career, physician assistants don’t have to spend years in a residency program like doctors do. All that may be why physician assistants are not only the top STEM job, but also the best overall job in the 2021 U.S. News Best Jobs rankings.

Learn more about physician assistants.

25 Best STEM Jobs:

— Operations Research Analyst.

— Psychiatrist.

— Pilot.

— Cartographer.

— Financial Advisor.

— Mechanical Engineer.

— Orthotist and Prosthetist.

— Physical Therapist.

— Occupational Therapist.

— Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.

— Financial Manager.

— Information Security Analyst.

— Anesthesiologist.

— IT Manager.

— Orthodontist.

— Veterinarian.

— Dentist.

— Data Scientist.

— Speech-Language Pathologist.

— Statistician.

— Physician.

— Medical and Health Services Manager.

— Nurse Practitioner.

— Software Developer.

— Physician Assistant.

More from U.S. News

The 25 Best Jobs of 2021

25 Best Jobs That Pay $100K or More

16 Low-Stress Jobs

Best STEM Careers originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 07/12/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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