Have you considered a future career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)? As employment trends change in the U.S., there are more and more opportunities in these four areas for all college students, but especially for female students.

Another take on this path is “STEAM.” STEAM encompasses the STEM subjects, but also incorporates the arts. Take a look at these helpful tips to consider if you’re interested in a STEM career.

The job outlook for STEM

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college students need to put some serious thought into pursuing a STEM degree. Job opportunities in fields related to STEM are projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, an increase of approximately 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels.

Author Robert D. Lock’s Taking Charge of Your Career Direction: Career Planning Guide, Book 1, 5th ed., explained, “Employment will continue to shift toward knowledge-based industries and away from labor-based industries as the pace of technological change accelerates even faster.” (Lock, 47)

Women in STEM

One of the big pushes in STEM has been an effort to recruit more female students to the study of science, technology, engineering and math. In “Igniting Women’s Passion for Careers in STEM” for the April 2012 issue of Techniques, Cheryl Platz focused on a nonprofit program, IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Education), that started in 2002 in Seattle. The program’s goal was to increase female students’ interest in these fields. Since its beginning, it has reached more than 20,000 girls around the globe.

Platz wrote, “At the heart of the program a thriving partnership with professional women (and sometimes men) working in STEM careers, who volunteer their time in order to reach out to young women about the opportunities in front of them.”

The real difference for female students seems to be interacting with female role models via workshops, field trips and mentorships. For many this type of individual guidance and inspiration helps to keep female students engaged and excited about a future career in a STEM field.

Tips for STEM college students

If you think a future career in a STEM field is what you want, what are some tips for helping you meet that goal? Whether you are a female student or a male college student, you can benefit from finding a mentor within your chosen STEM field. A STEM degree can be challenging, so having a faculty member in your corner with a vested interest in your success can be very beneficial.

By the same token, it is wise for college students studying in a STEM field to develop a group of friends within their degree program. Tips for making this happen include:

Are you pursuing a degree that will help you get a job in a STEM field? Let us know in the comments.

Reference: Lock, Robert D. 2005. Taking Charge of Your Career Direction: Career Planning Guide, Book 1, 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning