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What is STEM?

STEM is an educational program developed to educate students in four specific disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM integrates these four disciplines into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. A STEM Education is all about moving forward, creating solutions, and advancing innovation.

This Massachusetts WOW Initiative video features prominent people in STEM-related careers in Massachusetts, and shows what you can do and where you can go with your STEM education.

Science is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world..." — President Barack Obama, March 23, 2015

Why Choose a STEM Career?

  • Solve interesting and challenging problems
  • Be creative and work with others
  • Work on projects that make a difference
  • Earn a good salary and enjoy job flexibility
  • Change the world

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a list of STEM Occupations and Salary Information [PDF], and projects overall STEM employment to grow about 13 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is faster than the 11 percent rate of growth projected for all occupations over the decade.

Impact on societyYou can make a difference by contributing to the creation or improvement of products, devices, treatments, or applications. You can also have the opportunity to increase the standard of living of individuals and contribute to conservation efforts.

Challenge: Think about how fast technology changes and how frequent medicine advances. In a STEM field, you will be challenged to think critically and be creative as a daily part of your work.

Job satisfactionMany STEM fields, such as engineering, are consistently ranked as obtaining the most job satisfaction.  Many people in these fields consider their jobs to be fun because they have the ability to engage in hands-on tasks and work on developing practical solutions.

Demand"We have the jobs to fill but not the people to fill them.” said Tom Hopcroft, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “A major roadblock to expansion of the high-tech sector in Massachusetts is the talent shortage.” The United States is facing an aging task force of baby boomers approaching retirement and the difficulties of hiring foreign STEM workers due to tough immigration laws.  Along with these challenges, the United States has to increasingly compete with emerging foreign markets focused on expanding their STEM-related industries. 

High salaryOn average, new STEM graduates earn more than graduates from other fields. All these reasons add to continued STEM job growth for years to come, as supported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics STEM Occupations and Salaries report, there will be a 34 percent increase in professional, scientific, and technical services employment by 2018.