Is a STEM Career Right For You?

Get paid to change the world.

Jennifer Korchak – 21, senior at the University of North Florida majoring in pre-med chemistry, molecular and cellular biology and biotechnology

There’s a big push to get more students interested in careers related to science, technology, engineering and math, and for good reason. These careers are in high demand (meaning you’re more likely to find a job after graduation) and tend to pay well (who doesn’t like making money?).

Read on to learn why one Florida student chose to pursue a STEM career. Then see how much money you could make, and which degrees are required, to work in some of the hottest STEM careers.

Q. Why did you choose a STEM career?
Jennifer: I’ve always been interested in how the world worked, especially things you can’t see with the naked eye. What really drew me to STEM is the opportunity to conduct research that could cure diseases, prevent global warming and help people get cleaner drinking water — a job that could essentially make the world a better place.

Q. What do you hope to do with your career?
Jennifer: I’d like to go into research. I’m interested in studying molecules that have different biological effects. For example, maybe they could be used to cure cancer or help people who are paralyzed walk again.

Q. What is a research career like?
Jennifer: You could work for the government or companies like Johnson & Johnson. Or you could work in academia. If you go into academia, you get to make your own hours and choose what you spend your time researching.
There’s a little less flexibility if you work for a company or the government. But instead of sitting at a desk all day, you’ll be in a lab, conducting experiments and tests. With these jobs, you might be told what to work on — for example, making sure a new product is safe to bring to market — but you get to develop the ways you conduct your research.

Q. What’s a big misconception about STEM?
Jennifer: That STEM jobs are boring. In fact, they’re the total opposite of boring. You could be working on a cure for heart disease, building airplanes or designing skyscrapers. I think it’s one of the most exciting fields out there.

Q. How can a student tell if a STEM career might be right for him or her?
Jennifer: I suggest watching shows on National Geographic or Animal Planet, or Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos.” Then talk to your science teachers about what interests you.

Top STEM Jobs Median Salary Recommended Degree
Software Developer $100,080 Bachelor’s in computer science
Mathematician $105,810 Master’s in mathematics
Financial Analyst $81,760 Bachelor’s in a finance-related field
Civil Engineer $83,540 Bachelor’s in civil engineering
Epidemiologist $70,820 Master’s in public health