It’s no secret that in today’s job market, STEM — or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — is in demand. Graduates and school leavers are constantly being reminded of the importance of obtaining tech skills in order to be competitive, with many of the top-paying jobs in the world coming under the STEM umbrella.
It’s not just today’s market where STEM jobs are king, either — its tomorrow’s jobs, too. As technology evolves and we become ever more reliant on the digital world around us, occupations within the STEM field are likely to replace traditional professions.
So, if you’re looking to get in on the action, we’ve compiled a handy list of some of the highest-paying and most sought-after roles. As you’re reviewing the lists below you may notice that some in the science field could be listed under mathematics, or some in the tech field could be listed under science. In STEM careers, this is often the case, but we’ve compiled them based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, so keep that in mind as you proceed.
Without further ado, here are the 50 best STEM jobs.
Careers in science
A patient, detail-oriented, persistent person is best fit for a career in science. Take a look at some of the most in demand science jobs if you’re considering pursuing this career field.
Average annual salary: $152,430
A physicist is a scientist who works with designing scientific equipment, such as electron microscopes, particle accelerators, and lasers to perform experiments.
Average annual salary: $128,160
Astronomers use telescopes to study planets, stars, and other celestial bodies, researching phenomenons in space.
Average annual salary: $102,270
The daily work of a biochemist would require an investigative personality, as you analyze molecules like enzymes and DNA to determine their long-term effects.
4. Materials scientist
Average annual salary: $100,090
Materials scientists work with a variety of structures and chemical properties to manipulate them in order to enhance products or create new ones.
5. Nuclear technician
Average annual salary: $99,340
Those that work specifically with nuclear energy to monitor the levels of radiation are nuclear technicians.
6. Medical scientist
Average annual salary: $95,310
A medical scientist’s job is to improve overall human health by investigating diseases and establishing methods to prevent or treat them.
Average annual salary: $92,910
If you’re drawn to the study of human behavior and interaction, then becoming a sociologist is for you! These individuals spend their time observing social situations to make beneficial conjectures.
Average annual salary: $83,680
Simply put, a geoscientist studies the Earth. Well, at least its physical attributes, like composition, structure, and processes in an effort to learn from the past to understand the future.
Average annual salary: $79,430
Chemists try to improve the quality of products and ensure they are safe. They analyze compounds and chemical products to do so.
Average annual salary: $79,260
Without too much confusion, a microbiologist studies microorganisms. They attempt to understand how bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and parasites grow, live and interact.
Average annual salary: $78,830
The disease detectives are epidemiologists. They look for the cause of a disease by determining those who are at risk and evaluating how to prevent it and treat it.
12. Wildlife biologist
Average annual salary: $64,650
Also called a zoologist, wildlife biologists study animals and how they interact with their ecosystems.
13. Forensic science technician
Average annual salary: $61,930
Those who identify, collect and analyze evidence when it comes to criminal investigations are forensic science technicians.
Average annual salary: $61,910
Those who study artifacts dating back to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age to better understand civilizations and their cultures are Anthropologists.
Average annual salary: $61,910
Archeologists are similar to anthropologists in the sense that they study cultures, but archeologists focus on the present as well as the past. Yet another difference between the two is that these scientists mainly study written language and observed behaviors instead of artifacts.
16. Chemical technician
Average annual salary: $48,990
Different from a chemist, a chemical technician’s job is to ensure products meet safety standards by monitoring chemical processes; they don’t try to improve the product itself as a chemist does.
Careers in tech
If you’re a creative thinker and enjoy problem-solving, a career in tech might be for you! Why not get paid for doing what you love? Let’s look at some sought-after tech careers for you to consider.
17. Computer and information research scientist
Average annual salary: $131,490
Computer and information research scientists conduct research into fundamental computer and information science to develop solutions to problems.
18. Database architect
Average annual salary: $123,430
The definition for a database architect is in the name, because these individuals actually design and build large databases.
19. Software developer
Average annual salary: $120,730
Software developers, also known as java developers, spend their time in the nuts and bolts of tech as they build, program, design, and maintain software.
20. Network/cloud architect
Average annual salary: $120,520
Those who design LANs, WANs, intranets, or cloud computing software are network/cloud architects.
21. Information security analyst
Average annual salary: $102,600
An information security analyst monitors security measures to protect information. They use their skills to upgrade necessary systems that show security vulnerability.
22. Computer systems analyst
Average annual salary: $99,270
If you like to utilize an entire spectrum of knowledge from science, engineering, and business, then a computer systems analyst is for you. These tech roles develop and implement solutions to complex computer problems involving integration, network, or system administration.
23. Software quality assurance analyst and tester
Average annual salary: $98,220
A software quality assurance analyst and tester does exactly that; they develop and implement tests to find software issues. They try to “break it,” if you will, so someone can fix it before a major issue occurs.
24. Database administrator
Average annual salary: $96,710
Simply put, database administrators spend their time making sure databases run efficiently by securing data and storing it appropriately.
25. Computer programmer
Average annual salary: $93,000
If you like writing and testing code, a computer programming role is right for you. Those in this role will write, modify, and test code, allowing computer software to function without issues.
26. Network and computer systems administrator
Average annual salary: $80,600
Network and computer systems administrators take what the network architect has done and ensure the day-to-day operation of these networks runs smoothly.
27. UX designer
Average annual salary: $79,890
If you enjoy enhancing the user experience, a UX designer may be something you should consider. A UX designer spends their time ensuring the product is enjoyable, usable, and accessible for all users by testing layouts, interfaces, and functionality.
28. Web developer
Average annual salary: $77,030
Web developers develop and maintain websites; similar to what a software developer does specifically for software.
29. Computer network support specialist
Average annual salary: $62,760
Those who analyze, troubleshoot, and maintain computer networks, usually assisting users and organizations specifically, are computer network support specialists.
Careers in engineering
30. Petroleum engineer
Average annual salary: $130,850
A petroleum engineer takes engineering to the next level by designing ways to extract natural gas and oil from the earth.
31. Computer hardware engineer
Average annual salary: $128,170
Computer hardware engineers put their engineering skills to use by working on circuit boards, processors, memory devices, networks, and routers by researching, designing, and developing systems.
32. Aerospace engineer
Average annual salary: $122,270
Aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles are all things aerospace engineers design. They continually ensure their designs meet engineering principles and run tests to ensure all systems run properly.
33. Nuclear engineer
Average annual salary: $120,380
Those who try to turn nuclear energy and radiation around for benefits all while researching the process and instruments used are nuclear engineers.
34. Chemical engineer
Average annual salary: $105,550
A chemical engineer spends their time designing equipment and creating a process for manufacturing chemicals and products.
35. Electrical engineer
Average annual salary: $100,420
Those who do the whole spectrum of designing, developing, testing, and supervising the manufacture of electrical equipment are electrical engineers. Electrical engineers may also get the joy of designing entire electrical systems!
36. Health and safety engineers
Average annual salary: $99,040
These engineers have to use not only their engineering knowledge but also health and safety knowledge to create systems to protect people or property from illness, injury, or damage.
37. Materials engineer
Average annual salary: $98,300
If you like turning metals, ceramics, and plastics into new materials, then consider becoming a materials engineer. They can take materials and create products from medical devices all the way down to golf clubs.
38. Biomedical engineer
Average annual salary: $97,410
Biomedical engineers’ only focus is to improve human health. They spend their time developing new devices to advance the technology for the medical field.
39. Geological engineer
Average annual salary: $97,090
Geological engineers extract metals or minerals from sites they established may have mineral deposits. These engineers can specialize in specific metals or minerals and spend their career seeking that metal or mineral out.
40. Environmental engineer
Average annual salary: $96,820
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly job, consider using that passion to develop solutions to environmental problems. An environmental engineer strives to improve the environment at all costs.
41. Industrial engineer
Average annual salary: $95,300
Those engineers that design, develop, and test systems for managing industrial processes are industrial engineers.
42. Mechanical engineer
Average annual salary: $95,300
If you like designing machines, become a mechanical engineer. The money is lucrative, and you’ll spend your time designing machines all day!
43. Marine engineer
Average annual salary: $93,370
When it comes to designing the internal systems of a ship, that falls to a marine engineer. They work on everything from the refrigeration all the way down to the steering systems.
44. Civil engineer
Average annual salary: $88,050
Those who work with roads, railroads, airports, bridges, dams, power plants, and harbors by planning, designing, and overseeing construction are called civil engineers.
45. Agricultural engineer
Average annual salary: $82,640
If you have a knack for solving problems, consider agricultural engineering. These engineers solve problems surrounding agricultural problems like pollution, power supplies, and the efficiency of agricultural machinery.
Careers in mathematics
People who appreciate, excel, and even get excited about mathematics are a special breed! If that’s you, then keep reading because we’ve listed out the hottest careers in mathematics for you to consider.
Average annual salary: $108,100
A mathematician takes their knowledge of mathematics and statistics to solve problems that may occur in the real world.
Average annual salary: $105,900
Maybe you like evaluating risk? If so, become an actuary! This math career focuses on analyzing financial costs and uncertainty to provide the path of least risk.
48. Data scientist
Average annual salary: $100,910
Once infamously dubbed as the “sexiest profession of the 21st century”, a data scientist uses math to take raw data and turn it into meaningful information.
Average annual salary: $95,570
A statistician will work closely with a mathematician to design surveys or experiments to collect the data to support or disprove a hypothesis.
50. Operations research analyst
Average annual salary: $82,360
Operations research analysts spend their time improving business decision making and policy formulation by interpreting applicable mathematical information.
As you can see from this career list, there are a lot of lucrative opportunities in STEM. These jobs are only the tip of the iceberg, too, with countless related roles also available. Moving forward, it’s almost inevitable that new jobs will be created as well — jobs that we can’t even envision yet.
In the meantime, though, these occupations are a great place to start, so brush up on your calculus and maybe enroll on a Python course. In an industry that moves so quickly, it’s never too late for a career change, after all.
What career in STEM would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 3 April 2019 and contains contributions by Siôn Phillpott. All salary information was provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.