People who love working with numbers and formulas are naturally attracted to the mathematical branch of STEM. Unlike students entering the realm of science and engineering, those interested in a numbers oriented career have far fewer undergraduate degree options from which to choose.
An advanced degree and/or specific certification(s) may be warranted in some roles after the completion of an initial four year degree; those with a desire to work within academia or the governmental sector often pursue doctoral degrees. Accountants, bookkeepers, logisticians and secondary level mathematics instructors, on the other hand, are likely to qualify for a plentiful number of employment opportunities with their mathematically oriented bachelor's degree.
Choosing math for your undergraduate degree is also an excellent choice if you're unclear about your long term career goals. Many graduate and professional programs look favorably upon applicants with a bachelor's in math; such a degree is also attractive to many employers in science or business related fields. Completing one or more summer internships during your initial four years of study can help clarify your long term career options; as a bonus, declaring math as your major will open doors to a wide variety of internship opportunities early in your college career.
Selecting a Mathematically Oriented Bachelor's Degree
Students interested in pursuing a mathematically oriented bachelor's degree generally have only a handful of tracks to follow during the first four years of their educational journey. For example, math students at the University of Arizona can select either a B.S. or B.A. in Mathematics or Statistics & Data Science, giving them a total of four degree options (compared to dozens of options in science or engineering!). Each of these four degree paths have more similarities than differences and the first few years of coursework will be identical in most cases. B.S. degree holders are slightly better prepared for science and/or numbers oriented careers while those with B.A. degrees will more easily transition into law school and/or other non scientific careers, yet all math degrees form an excellent base for students who are unclear about their future goals.
A math degree can open doors to advanced courses of study in virtually any field, as many graduate and professional programs (including medical and law schools) look favorably upon applicants who've earned a bachelor's in mathematics. In fact, nearly half of all math majors end up completing an advanced degree!
Career Options for Four Year Math Degree Holders
In most geographic locations, a student who wishes to begin a career after completing a four year math degree will have a wide variety of options that provide comfortable salaries, room for growth and high levels of job satisfaction. Math majors often fill roles as bookkeepers, accountants, analysts, administrators and beyond and some are drawn to the realm of secondary education where their skills are in high demand. Each state has its own set of requirements for certification of high school math teachers, yet the need for these teachers is so great that individuals with any math related degree will usually have the option to follow a straightforward pathway towards certification. As an alternative to obtaining a bachelor's in math, future teachers can obtain an educational degree with a mathematical focus. It's important to consider, however, that an educational degree will not be viewed as favorably as a mathematics degree outside the realm of education and is therefore not recommended for those with unclear career goals.
Internships as Tools for Math Majors
Many math majors choose their course of study to create a solid base from which to continue an advanced educational journey or to open doors to a variety of career options. Internships provide the perfect complimentary experience for these students, as their flexible mathematical backgrounds give them the option of "trying out" virtually any role they find interesting. Math majors will likely qualify for many internships in science or business related fields and some will take advantage of this flexibility by applying for summer positions as soon as they've completed their first year as an undergraduate. Every internship you complete will provide invaluable work experience to narrow down your future career options; if, during an internship you discover that certain career paths no longer appeal to you, you'll still have work experience to add to your resume and will have made professional connections that will serve you well in years to come. Check out G.E.M. Environmental's summer internships to explore the realm of Earth Science while getting paid and enjoying the beauty of the southwest!
G.E.M. Environmental is committed to supporting underrepresented STEM students through educational and financial support. In addition to field experiences and summer internships, we offer scholarships which can be used to fund educational programs, purchase books, or pay down accumulated student loan debt. We'll be reviewing the next batch of applications in March of 2019.
Our blog entries are intended to help STEM students obtain their dream career. We encourage you to add your comments below; if there are any particular topics you'd like to see addressed in future posts, please share! Also be sure to scroll down to the bottom of our website and sign up for our newsletter (under "Follow Us") so you can stay up to date about our upcoming programs and opportunities!
Engineers are people within the realm of STEM who turn new discoveries and scientific knowledge into items with practical use. With the help of mathematical formulas and data, they find solutions to many of the world's problems. Most engineers are creative, mathematical and analytical and the best possess great interpersonal and leadership skills. Engineers typically garner salaries above the national average and many top the six figure mark at the peak of their careers. Like most STEM degrees, the first two years of engineering coursework is relatively general in scope but becomes highly specialized in the third academic year. If you are a future engineer, it is extremely important to be clear on your preferred area of focus before your junior year in college. Internships are a great way to get your feet wet in the real world of engineering. Through internship experience, you'll have the opportunity to make sure your projected course of study matches up with your career goals. You'll also make professional connections and pave your career path with work experience to develop a stellar resume.
The Working Realm of Engineering
All engineers are problem solvers and many supervise engineering technologists, technicians and/or others involved with the project(s) at hand. Most roles involve extensive use of computer simulation during the product design phase. Depending on the type of engineering, your working environment can range from a remote outdoor location to an office building, with some positions requiring extensive travel.
Although there are sub categories within each area of specialization, the following engineering branches are recognized within the Federal Government's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system:
Engineers Specialize Early in Their Degree Programs
Most engineers are able to obtain gainful employment with a comfortable salary after attaining a bachelor's degree. While many appreciate the ability to enter the workforce after four years of study, engineering coursework is said to be challenging at the undergraduate level and specialization begins sooner than other courses of study. As a result, it is absolutely critical to know which branch of engineering is most appealing to you by the beginning of your junior year as an undergraduate. Mechanical, industrial and civil engineering degrees are more versatile than other engineering degrees, yet nothing beats working as an intern to really narrow down your preferred area of focus.
Start looking for your first internship during your freshman year to reap the most benefit from these resume enhancing positions; you're sure to make professional connections that may even lead to an offer for full time employment! Some internships, including those offered through G.E.M. Environmental, provide living stipends and/or salaries.
G.E.M. Environmental supports STEM students through the provision of scholarships, paid internships and field experiences. We utilize our blog to share suggestions to help you attain the career of your dreams. If you're a STEM student, consider applying for our upcoming scholarship. We'll be reviewing the next batch of applications in March of 2019. Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of our website and sign up for our newsletter (under "Follow Us") to stay up to date about our upcoming programs and opportunities!
In next month's blog entry, we'll wrap up our overview of STEM fields by highlighting careers in mathematics. Mathematicians put the "M" in STEM!
People who love working with their hands and bringing projects to life are the technologists and technicians within the realm of STEM. For every type of engineer, there is an engineering technologist to assist in project implementation. Installation, operation, troubleshooting and/or repair of machinery and/or equipment is generally handled by engineering technicians. Technologists and technicians differ in their level of education and assigned tasks, yet both career paths have areas of specialization related to the field of engineering they support. Choosing an area of specialization can be challenging, particularly for those participating in two year certificate programs with fast paced, job focused curricula offering little or no general coursework. Internships can be particularly useful for students in this category, as on the job experience is the best way to determine if your field of study is a genuine match for your personality.
The Builders and Implementers of STEM
Hands on work is essential in the implementation of any type of engineering project. Engineering technologists and technicians bring formal project plans to life by bringing together the pieces that allow the whole to function as intended. By focusing on practical application of the steps involved in actual project execution, degree programs for technologists and technicians have a reduced need for formal coursework in mathematics and science (compared to engineering curricula). If you enjoy working with the actual nuts and bolts which bring things together and want to get started in a well paying career field relatively quickly, work as an engineering technologist or engineering technician may be perfect for you.
Engineer vs. Technologist vs. Technician
Every type of engineer will have a corresponding engineering technologist and/or technician for support during the implementation phase of projects as well as for ongoing maintenance. So what are the main differences between engineers, technologists and technicians? Generally speaking, engineers are the highest paid members of the group and have completed four or more years of postsecondary education. Coursework encompasses high order math and science and gives engineers the background to create complex plans and blueprints for projects within their field of specialization. Technologists complete degree programs ranging between two and four years in length with curricula focused on the application of engineering concepts rather than their formal development. While pay scales don't generally approach that of engineers, salaries are comfortable for many and technologists often have job openings in a wider range of geographic locations. Technicians typically obtain an associate's degree or technical certificate in their field of interest during a two year program of study. These folks literally work with the nuts and bolts of whatever task is at hand. Jobs are readily available and pay appreciably higher than positions requiring only a high school diploma.
Selecting Your Area of Specialization
As a technologist or technician, selecting an area of specialization can be particularly challenging since many of these degree programs have highly specific career focused curricula. While this may be appealing for those looking to start their career as quickly as possible, it's important to have a good grasp of your preferred field before investing significant amounts of time in your program of study. Mid-program changes in your area of specialization will create delays in your graduation date and add to the cost of your education. Think about what types of projects you feel most drawn to work with; if you love tinkering with cars, for example, becoming an automotive technician may be a natural choice. Within every field of engineering there are corresponding technologists and technicians, so be sure to follow our blog for next month's entry covering the range of engineering specialists. Additionally, consider spending time as an intern in your field of interest. Experience as an intern not only makes you more attractive to potential employers but is also a powerful tool to help you narrow down the career path best suited for your personality and needs. Some internships, including ours, are paid and are particularly well suited for those interested in working within a geotechnical field of engineering technology.
G.E.M. Environmental is committed to providing scholarships, paid internships and useful suggestions to help you attain the career of your dreams. Consider applying for our upcoming STEM scholarship. The deadline to apply is November 23, 2018!
As we continue our exploration of STEM careers, we'll focus on the spectrum of opportunities available to engineers in next month's blog entry. Stay up to date about our upcoming programs and opportunities by signing up for our newsletter! Just scroll to the bottom of our page and click on "Newsletter" (under "Follow Us") to join the G.E.M. family!
In a previous blog entry we outlined a process to determine which of the four STEM branches you're most attracted to. Those interested in the sciences will find themselves in the largest of STEM categories, with a seemingly countless number of college majors (and minors!) to choose from. Science encompasses a range of careers broad enough to include volcanologists who risk their lives near molten lava to quantum computer scientists who spend their days looking for ways to maximize data storage. With such an incredible range of opportunities within the scientific realm, it's critical to take advantage of those first two years of general college coursework to fine tune the process of choosing a major. Working as an intern in your field of interest can confirm your passion (while giving you invaluable work experience) or redirect you towards a more suitable career goal.
The Goliath of STEM - the Science Realm
While each of the STEM branches is broad in scope compared to some other career avenues, the scientific realm of STEM dwarfs the other three. Scientists descend to the bottom of the ocean in search of mysterious forms of life, study distant galaxies, explore and expand the limits of technology and do virtually everything in between. Broadly speaking (and with the disclaimer that plenty of overlap exists within these fields), non-healthcare related science consists of the following disciplines:
General Coursework and Internships - Tools to Refine Your Major
Students who plan on majoring in any branch of science will be required to take general courses in biology, chemistry, and physics; many schools also require a computer science related course. Gratefully, these courses provide an introduction to all major fields within the general realm of science, save for earth science. General coursework exposes students to a wide range of career options, yet the marginalization of the earth sciences in some schools is of concern due to the wide range of job opportunities this field encompasses. Anyone who suspects their passion may lie in the realm of earth science would be well advised to take at least a basic geology course. Such coursework will readily transfer for University credit, in spite of its absence on the AGEC-S list of required courses. Utilizing your summer months as an intern in whatever scientific field you are most attracted to will provide invaluable feedback about your projected career path. Some internship opportunities, including those offered through G.E.M Environmental, provide living stipends and can be completed as early as one year into your college career.
Keep following our blog for more great tips on how to narrow down which STEM major is best for you. Next month, we'll explore the "T" in STEM and highlight the career options available to people with an interest in working as technicians.
Summer jobs can help students perform better in the classroom when they return to school, and allow them to learn important skills while on the job, such as teamwork. In a time when the unemployment rate for young adults is at a 52 year low, it is hard to ponder why the participation rate is also at an all time low. Don't become a statistic!
Discover new and exciting ways to get that #STEM job you always thought was just out of reach. G.E.M. Environmental will soon be offering PAID internships and vocational training! Follow us @gemenviron and check our website regularly for updates.
Young adults with a passion for discovery are often naturally attracted to a STEM related career. Yet how do you sort through the sea of STEM majors to ensure you end up landing a job that you really love?
STEM, short for science, technology (and technical applications), engineering and mathematics is incredibly broad in scope. These fields attract a wide diversity of students from all walks of life. Choosing a STEM branch may seem daunting at first, but asking yourself objective questions can help ease the selection process. Remember, you do have time to explore your options, as your first few years of coursework will be rather general in scope. Additionally, working as an intern in whatever STEM field you most gravitate towards can provide a significant degree of clarity in selecting the major that best suits you.
A Career Based on Passion or Profit?
Although STEM careers do indeed pay higher salaries than most non-STEM related occupations, salary alone is probably not a good enough reason to pursue a career within these fields. Studies clearly link job dissatisfaction with a decline in physical and mental health, so unless you have a passion for discovery in one form or another, you'll probably fare better on another career path. That being said, STEM careers can be incredibly stimulating and quite profitable for those with a passion for the work. And with such a wide range of options, STEM provides opportunities for a diverse population of young adults preparing to enter the workforce.
Which Branch of STEM is Right for Me?
Sorting through the myriad of career options within science, technology, engineering and mathematics may feel like searching for a needle in a haystack at times. Looking at your preferences objectively can help narrow down the options. Which branch of STEM are you most attracted to? Ask yourself the following questions:
Make the Most of Those First Two Years
All STEM students are required to take similar college courses during their freshman and sophomore years. Your initial coursework can be helpful in narrowing down the STEM field you are most attracted to. In particular, the degree to which you enjoy (or don't enjoy) higher order math will be important in determining a career path. Additionally, work as an intern can be invaluable in choosing the path that's right for you.
As an intern, you'll have the opportunity to experience real life, day to day activities that occur in whatever occupation you're exploring. You'll make professional connections and are likely to discover whether you're hot on the trail to the career of your dreams or if your path needs some refinement. Some internships are paid (like ours) and many are available to undergrads even during their first year of college. Internships help clarify your career options and give you the opportunity to adjust your major accordingly. In turn, you're likely to streamline your path to graduation and end up with the STEM degree that best meets your needs.
Follow our blog for more great tips on refining your STEM career options. In upcoming weeks, we'll highlight each of the four STEM branches to further aid in the discovery process which leads to a college major that will best prepare you for the job of your dreams. You can stay up to date with all of our programs and opportunities by scrolling down to the bottom of our site and signing up for our newsletter (click the link beneath "Follow Us"). Don't forget to leave us a comment below!