6 Things You Didn't Know About STEM Jobs and Students

Interest in left-brain fields is growing.

Unlike the SAT, the ACT tests students' knowledge of science.

5. In five years, California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois will provide the most STEM jobs. California and New York are front-running states for finding employment in numerous lines of work, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects these states are also leading the pack to offer STEM jobs by 2018. Out of more than 8.6 million expected jobs in those industries, more than 1.6 million will crop up in either California or the Empire State.

Rounding out the top five are states that might surprise you: Texas, boasting nearly 758,000 jobs; Florida, with 411,000 jobs; and Virginia, which could have 404,000 openings by 2018. "The states with the most entrepreneurs are where the jobs are expected to be," Fraser says. "If you look at California, New York, and Texas, those are the states where entrepreneurs are starting businesses, and offering a number of new jobs."

6. Not every STEM job requires a four-year degree. It's a myth that the best STEM jobs are exclusively available to those accumulating Ivy League debt. There are plenty of occupations available to students who choose a two-year vocational program instead of a four-year public or private college, and the study conducted by My College Options and STEMconnector finds interest in STEM work is highest among those at a two-year vocational or technical school. Similarly, some of the best-paying and fastest-growing occupations are STEM-related, but not pure math gigs, engineering jobs, or overly scientific fields.

"One real interesting finding is that when we often look at STEM occupations, we think of astronomers, physicists, and engineers," says Robert S. Boege, executive director of ASTRA, the science and technology research organization that partnered with STEMconnector to conduct and compile some of the research for the report. "But the more than 8 million more [projected STEM] jobs includes ones like accountants, people who do financial modeling, investing, those who use statistics, etc. In other words, STEM-related jobs."

The BLS and the report find that STEM-related jobs with inflated employment growth do include occupations with lengthy training. But occupations that make the cut—such as auto mechanics, construction managers, and aerospace mechanics—often require only two years of post-secondary education.

[See: The 100 Best Jobs of 2013.]

The My College Options and STEMconnector national report also provides statistics on the type of courses taken, preferable college size, and the extracurricular activities of STEM students. It's the hope of both Boege and Fraser that students, parents, educators, and policy makers use this study's findings to attract new students, retain current ones, and to help them make wise decisions when picking a specific career and education path. It's also a resource that can be used to track how student interest in various parts of the country matches up to job opportunity.

Visit stemconnector.org for comprehensive details on the full report.