STEM degrees, diplomas handed out in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, traditionally account for the highest paying jobs, earning individuals approximately $35,000 more annually than other occupations. According to George Washington University’s Face the Facts initiative, professionals with STEM degrees earned an average of $77,880 a year in 2009, but only 10.7 percent of diplomas handed out during that year were for STEM courses. That translates to approximately only one in every 10 diplomas issued in the higher paying occupations of math, science, technology or engineering.
Of those earning the high-paying STEM degrees, Asians had far more when compared to their representation in the workforce than any other demographic. The group accounted for only 5 percent of the nation’s workforce in 2009, but held 14 percent of STEM jobs.
Hispanics, who accounted for 14 percent of the workforce, occupied approximately 6 percent of STEM jobs, and non-Hispanic whites held 68 percent of the workforce and 72 percent of STEM jobs.
Not all workers with STEM degrees went on to occupy STEM jobs however, states Face the Facts. Of the workers with a STEM degree who also held a STEM job, Asians topped the list at 49 percent compared to 34 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 29 percent of African-Americans, and 28 percent of Hispanics.
Not only are STEM jobs better paid than most other jobs in the country, there are currently more than 3 million unfilled STEM jobs in the United States due to a lack of qualified applicants. With Hispanics as one of the fastest growing minorities in the country, unfilled STEM jobs translate into high opportunities for many aspiring students.
The top STEM careers, according to STEMCAREER, include computer support, database administration, systems analysis, computer networking, CS/IS research, software engineering, physical sciences, traditional engineering, mathematics and life sciences.
For Hispanics interested in pursuing a STEM degree, a number of scholarships exist, including the Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program, NACME Scholars Program, the Advancing Hispanic Excellence in Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (AHETEMS), and the Aetna Nursing Scholarship.