When thinking of careers in STEM, there are a few jobs that likely come to mind. Doctor, engineer, actuary, programmer, teacher — these options take center stage in the popular understanding of science careers. Though many STEM majors eventually find their way into one of these positions, there are a number of niche job markets that rarely receive mention.
For example, it’s not often discussed that the medical sector hires scientists and engineers to perform technical operations in hospitals and other medical centers. Because medical facilities rely on high performance imaging and diagnostic machinery (MRI, proton and radiation therapies, laser and x-ray devices) these positions are currently very much in need as the complexity of treatment options and demand for medical services continues to grow. Engineering, physics, or general technology related degrees provide a good background for this kind of work.
National Laboratory Scientist
The Department of Energy and Department of Defense, as well as their subsidiaries like the National Security Administration and National Nuclear Security Administration all have base operations across the states. The staff scientists at these locations perform extremely varied experimental and theoretical work, many times in relation to projects for defense or natural resource and energy applications. Though these positions may require a PhD, they offer a great opportunity to contribute to research culture outside of university academics.
If you’ve majored in a computational or math-based science like engineering, computer science, physics or pure math, financial companies may be looking for you to fill data science and analytics positions. While these careers can be pretty intensive, they also have a reputation for netting high starting salaries with only a bachelor’s degree.
In university departments and corporate labs, there are typically staff members responsible for maintaining and setting up laboratory equipment and computing resources. Institutions with supercomputing facilities or specific machinery for microscopy/imaging, optics and laser experiments, or material fabrication hire contract technicians to maintain these setups. In a different sense, undergraduate science departments also require lab setups for student laboratory classes in physics, chemistry, or engineering. Some of these positions don’t require a doctoral degree, and can therefore be a great way to use a science degree without enduring additional years of education.
Work in scientific, environmental, and technological policy or patent law is rarely advertised to STEM students. Though careers in this area likely require continuing education through law school corporations, non-profits, and government organizations need to hire individuals with this kind of background for a variety of applications.
These 5 career paths are terrific opportunities to put a STEM degree to good use. While you may not have heard of these jobs before, looking for work in these areas through federal and corporate avenues is as little as a Google search away.
Additionally, if you’re hunting for work in STEM, often you can find specific job postings through the corresponding national organization. Even if you’re not yet applying for positions, asking your undergraduate department faculty members and general university career service organization about these positions can help you plan for the future. Once you’ve got your sights set on a few positions, get ready to get out there and put your scientific knowledge to work!
This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, J.C . Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!
J.C is a PhD candidate studying the theory behind new materials for practical applications. She’s an experienced coder, and particularly likes to apply computational techniques to solve scientific problems. When she’s not working on my research, She enjoy drawing and reading fiction.