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Can you fill the STEM talent gap?

Editorial Staff

Cooler video games. More efficient cars. Better medicines. If you want to make a real difference in the world today—and well into your own future—a career in science or technology may be just what you need. Sound too geeky for your taste? Consider shedding some new light on what’s cool, as you consider the information below.

Technology is advancing every day, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workers make it happen! Without the work of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians, and other skilled workers, many new products and discoveries would never come about. Imagine: No cars. No TV. No computers!

Simply put, workers in STEM occupations use science, math, and technological innovations to solve problems. Educational requirements for STEM occupations can range from a high school diploma and on-the-job training all the way up to a Ph.D.—but all will require you to solve problems and think logically.

The STEM Talent Gap

Many factors are driving the demand for the knowledge, skills, and abilities of STEM workers. There are roughly 97 STEM occupations that account for 7.3 million jobs, or nearly 5.7% of U.S. employment. But the supply of STEM workers is not expected to keep up with the growing demand, making the current situation worse, and creating an even more significant gap in STEM talent.

What makes STEM jobs so great?

There are a lot of good reasons that working in a STEM career could make a difference in your life:


STEM workers enjoy wage premiums. The annual income for STEM employees averages about $77,880 per year, while the U.S. average income is just $43,460. The highest paying STEM occupations, all averaging more than $100K yearly, are:

  • Natural Science Managers
  • Engineering Managers
  • Computer/Info
  •  Systems Managers
  • Petroleum Engineers

Experts agree that STEM jobs are essential to a growing economy, and vital to our nation’s competitiveness. While relatively small in number, they create job growth, which in turn fuels the economy.


STEM workers experience relatively low unemployment. This is result of a growing talent drought for STEM positions, based on an increasing demand for talent, with a relatively stagnant supply.

A number of factors are contributing to talent supply challenges, including job defection—when qualified STEM workers leave for another profession. Women and minorities are also underrepresented in STEM, while students today are relatively not interested. Finally, the current STEM population is part of an aging workforce which will soon be retiring.


There is growing demand for STEM workers across the globe. Demand for STEM professionals is expected to increase 16.8% from 2010 to 2020, compared with 14.3% for other jobs—adding more than one million new STEM jobs to the workforce.

Strong demand for technology (IT) jobs is driving overall growth in STEM. Demand will be greatest for computer-related occupations, with numbers in this category expected to jump 21.8% through 2020. Out of the 10 fastest growing STEM occupations (through 2020, by numerical increase), eight are IT/computer-related.

Other factors fueling demand in STEM include:

  • Technology explosion
  • An aging and growing worldwide population
  • Renewed focus on innovation
  • Conservation and green energy
  • Heightened security measures
  • Adoption of nanotechnology


STEM jobs are often in the most innovative fields, working for the most progressive companies, leading to interesting and challenging work. STEM occupations make up more than half of industry employment in computer systems design and related services; architectural, engineering, and related services; scientific research and development services; software publishing; and computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing.

Just like the stem of a plant holds up other structures, STEM jobs are essential to our economy. They affect the way we communicate, work, live, travel, maintain our health, and enjoy our free time. Plus, STEM jobs are good for the economy, so STEM careers certainly hold great promise for current and future workers.

To find more about whether a STEM occupation may be for you, take a look at a brief infographic: STEM Careers: Demand is Up for Today’s Innovators. Or, read a new eBook from Kelly Services®: STEM Jobs Cultivate Success. A STEM occupation may just be in your future!

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