What Are Stem Fields? (With Benefits and Example Jobs)
Updated February 5, 2023
A career in STEM requires a complex set of technical skills and capabilities, often contingent on the unique specialization that a person practices. These fields serve as an opportunity for people to familiarize themselves with the concepts and methods that shape the growth of many industries and innovative initiatives. Learning about STEM can help you determine if it's a study and career path that closely aligns with your future goals. In this article, we discuss what STEM fields are and why it's beneficial to study them, including potential job opportunities in each field for you to consider.
Related: What Are STEM Jobs?
What are STEM career fields?
STEM career fields are a collection of jobs that focus on the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The career opportunities that professionals can pursue in STEM are vast, with many positions encompassing aspects from more than one discipline. STEM professionals use computers and technology to perform their digital duties, while also relying on scientific and mathematical methodologies to collect data and process information in a manner that helps them solve problems and innovate new ideas. The standards for what qualifies as a STEM field continue to expand, currently including disciplines like architecture, pharmaceuticals, social sciences and psychology.
Here's some additional information on the four core STEM career fields:
The science field designates jobs and careers where professionals use life and physical science to facilitate change for the benefit of society. While one person might work to cure diseases and famine, another science practitioner could aim to resolve climate change. With such a diverse range of specializations for someone to pursue, they can help an individual forge a distinctive career path and differentiate themselves from others by having unique expertise and knowledge. Life sciences refer to the study of living organisms and may include subjects like:
Physical sciences refer to the study of nonliving objects and include a variety of subjects, such as:
Related: 10 Fascinating Science Careers
The technology field primarily focuses on the advancement of mechanical innovations and the implementation of technology to improve productivity and optimize processes. Technology helps people accomplish laborious tasks more efficiently and access digital systems to learn new skills, earn money and remain up to date on current trends. Careers in this industry are incredibly expansive, and it's the one STEM field that integrates into all other fields. Therefore, someone who studies with a technology focus may enjoy greater employment opportunities across the other platforms. Here are a few specializations to consider in the field of technology:
Engineering could be considered a composite of the other three STEM fields. In engineering, professionals use their expertise to solve complex technical problems regarding a wide range of topics. For example, one engineer might develop the means to travel to a faraway planet to extract planetary matter, while another engineer might seek to develop a new type of roadway that can make driving safer. Engineers, no matter the field, usually follow the process of designing, implementing and testing their innovations to ensure they function as intended. Someone studying engineering usually chooses a specialization, such as:
The mathematics field refers to professions that harness the power of numbers, algorithms and dynamic equations to understand how systems work, solve problems, identify patterns and justify solutions from a statistical and data-driven perspective. Many other STEM professionals integrate mathematical computations into their operational processes because it helps them better obtain their desired outcomes. When studying mathematics, you can pursue pure mathematics or applied mathematics. Pure mathematics focuses on math in its rawest form, including subjects like:
Applied mathematics is where you use mathematical methods within other specialized areas, such as:
Why is studying a STEM field beneficial?
There are many benefits and reasons to study a subject in STEM:
Fosters creativity: Studying STEM can help improve a person's ability to develop unique ideas and craft alternative ways to handle a variety of subjects and topics. This approach is beneficial because it encourages innovation, ensuring that major industries can continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of the people.
Expands technical knowledge: The framework of STEM requires an extensive understanding of various processes, procedures and methodologies. As you become more familiar with these fields, you can further expand your current technical knowledge and skills to become a more well-rounded professional in the industry.
Increases job opportunities: Jobs within STEM continue to expand because these professions change how societies look to create new solutions on a global scale. Companies, organizations and governments rely on STEM professionals extensively, which further demonstrates that job opportunities are likely to continue growing for individuals in this field.
Diverse applications: One of the primary reasons for studying in a STEM field is that each one has diverse applications, ensuring you can use it within a variety of jobs and for many purposes. This helps to expand your career pool and ability to continue learning new ways to apply your specialized capabilities.
Improves problem-solving: A core element of STEM focuses on introducing new strategies and methods for solving common and novelty problems. As a student in this field, you can expect to become more adept at developing beneficial resolutions for diverse issues and conditions.
Supports critical thinking: As a professional within STEM, one of your responsibilities is to collect data and then think critically about what that data represents. This helps you come to more meaningful conclusions and gain a greater awareness about how different aspects within a framework interconnect.
Encourages experimentation: Experimentation is a central element of STEM fields because it allows practitioners to learn from their mistakes and improve on the original processes they discovered. By studying in one of these areas, you can hone your ability to experiment and try out new methods for accomplishing your tasks and goals.
Rewards diligence: As you study STEM, you may encounter challenges in your workflow, as some experiments and results may not turn out as you intended. Remaining diligent and resilient in learning about your specialization can ensure that you learn from those errors and become more knowledgeable about how to resolve or avoid them in the future.
Teaches adaptability: STEM fields teach individuals how to adapt to rapidly changing industries as new ideas and innovations continue to reshape the ways people perform their jobs. By studying a STEM field, you may become more adept at adjusting to these unexpected changes or new processes.
Supports interdisciplinary learning: A significant benefit to studying STEM fields is that they usually intersect by sharing some of the same core principles, methods and concepts. Therefore, if you learn about one field, you can expect to become familiar with certain aspects of another.
Improves financial earnings: As you gain more expertise in STEM, you may be able to negotiate for a higher salary or wage. You can apply this method whether you're looking for a pay raise with your current employer or seeking a minimum base salary with a new company.
Jobs in the STEM fields
Here are some jobs you can pursue in the STEM fields:
Here are some science jobs to consider:
Pharmacist: A pharmacist is a professional who receives and fills out their patients' prescription drugs and medications. They possess a wide knowledge of various drugs to inform patients about the proper dosage and other safety guidelines.
Medical scientist: A medical scientist uses their expertise to research and identify the cause for specific diseases. They then work to develop methods for preventing those diseases or providing suitable and safe treatments.
Environmental scientist: An environmental scientist researches how to protect the environment. Many specialize in a specific field, like zoology, botany or preservation.
Here are some technology jobs you can pursue:
Web developer: A web developer designs and creates websites for companies and clients. They pay attention to the visual aspects of the website and the practical functionality of it as well.
Programmer: A programmer uses complex computer languages to code and create a variety of computer software and applications. They also ensure that any coding systems are free of errors so they can operate as intended.
Information technology analyst: An IT analyst oversees the system upgrades and researches new devices and tools that can help improve a process. They use technology to meet business needs and improve productivity.
Here are a few jobs you can get in engineering:
Biomedical engineer: A biomedical engineer creates a variety of solutions within the health care industry. They perform duties like designing health care systems, MRI machines and prosthetics.
Aerospace engineer: An aerospace engineer designs a variety of aeronautic devices like spacecraft, aircraft, missile systems and satellites. After the design stage, they then make and test their prototypes for functionality.
Civil engineer: A civil engineer designs and executes the construction of various structures, like roads, bridges and sewer systems. During the creation process, they assess how to implement a project with minimal effect on the surrounding environment and ecosystem.
Here are some sample mathematics occupations:
Statistician: A statistician collects large amounts of numerical data and uses statistics to interpret what that data means. This helps them make more informed plans and decisions.
Actuary: An actuary uses complex database systems and statistical analysis to evaluate how likely an event is to occur. They then use this information to determine what types of insurance policies their customers qualify for.
Mathematician: A mathematician uses pure math techniques and theories to solve a variety of practical problems. They also collect data and present their findings to their employers or stakeholders.
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