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Bachelor's Degree Not Required for Many STEM Jobs


June 28, 2013


Bachelor's Degree Not Required for Many STEM Jobs

STEM is portrayed as the arena of the highly educated-bachelor's and advanced degree holders-but a recent Brookings report shares that half of STEM jobs are for workers with less than a four-year degree. CTE educates youth and adults for many of the occupations described in The Hidden STEM Economy.

Here are a few key findings:

  • In 2011 there were 26 million U.S. jobs that required a high level of knowledge in STEM. Jobs requiring high-level STEM knowledge can be found in every sector of the economy, although utilities, professional services, construction, mining and manufacturing are the five most STEM-intensive sectors. Health care can also be regarded as a STEM-intensive sector, depending on the STEM definition used.
  • About 50 percent of all STEM jobs are open to workers with less than a bachelor's degree, and about 30 percent of today's STEM-intensive jobs are in blue collar fields. These include skilled technicians who produce, repair and install high-tech equipment and maintain the nation's energy supply.
  • These subbaccalaureate STEM jobs are available in every large metropolitan area and pay $53,000 per year on average, about 10 percent higher than jobs with similar educational requirements.

The report also summarizes federal, state and local initiatives that focus on STEM education:

  • The Department of Education's Investing in Innovation grants, which have been awarded to programs like Clark County School District's Pathways to STEM initiative and semester-long STEM apprenticeships in Boston.
  • STEM-focused secondary schools, such as Stuyvesant High School and P-TECH in New York City, STEM academies in Virginia and Nashville, and Chicago's Early College STEM Schools, that are developed with business and industry support and input.
  • Community college business-education partnerships, such as Chattanooga State Community College's automation mechatronics and car mechatronics partnership with Volkswagen (learn more about this program with ACTE's short publication, Business-education Partnerships in CTE: Driving American Competitiveness), as well as paid internships, apprenticeships and business-sponsored training.

The authors note that STEM investment has been focused on higher levels of education and training, and urge stakeholders to make STEM education spending more equitable by increasing investments in secondary-level and community college STEM education.  

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