5 of the fastest-growing fields rely on STEM disciplines

  • Green energy leads the way in projected job growth.

  • The demand for more software developers will continue to grow exponentially to keep pace with innovation.

  • Mathematical minds are needed to interpret the increasingly vast amount of data we are producing.

Focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in high school and college isn’t just a great way to develop an analytical mind. These STEM disciplines also unlock fast-growing job opportunities.

In its projections on future employment prospects, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently identified some of the hottest occupations through 2024. STEM education is key to several of the biggest and fastest-growing fields. The bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook provides an in-depth look at some of the most promising occupations:

Wind turbine service technician – projected  job growth through 2024 at 108 percent with 4,800 positions; median 2014 wage at $48,800; including science, technology, and engineering fields

This isn’t just the fastest-growing STEM career, this is the fastest-growing career in the U.S. economy. Although still a niche field, with fewer than 10,000 full-time positions expected by 2024, a strong emphasis on wind energy production is creating a surge in demand for qualified technicians. Wind turbine service techs don’t just spend their days hauling huge fan blades across the countryside (although that’s an important part of the job). They also work with the massive amounts of diagnostic and performance data generated by turbines. Techs need to be able to understand and interpret that data, and address problems before they lead to failures.

Statistician – projected job growth through 2024 at 33.8 percent with 10,100 positions; median 2014 wage at $79,990; including technology and mathematics fields

With the Internet of Things (IoT) churning out vast quantities of data, the world needs more professionals to help process it. That’s why “statistician” is projected to be the ninth-fastest growing field in the years to come. By the time 2016 high school grads reach their 10-year reunion, statisticians will be grappling with data sets unimaginably large by today’s standards. Data visualization and analysis tools will be crucial at every step in the process, with statisticians expected to help corporations and non-governmental organizations alike understand how numbers affect their future by creating new models that turn data into actionable information.

Operations research analyst – projected job growth through 2024 at 30 percent with 27,600 positions; median 2014 wage at $76,660; including technology and mathematics fields

Simply put, operations research analysts use a wide range of math skills to help organizations make better decisions. With so much data available to even small business, leaders don’t want to just rely on instinct and gut feelings before committing to a new project, a buyout, or a big strategic shift. Operations research analysts make it easier to make split-second decisions with a high degree of confidence and mathematical certainty.

Computer systems analyst – projected job growth through 2024 at 21 percent with 118,600+ positions; median 2014 wage at $82,710; including technology and engineering fields

The ongoing growth of IoT and the cloud mean that computer systems analysts are going to be everywhere. On average, expect 12,000 new jobs per year to be created in this sector. Systems analysts are vital to ensuring that systems and apps work the way companies expect and that they work when every user expects to have access. The best app in the world is useless if the cloud that services it is overwhelmed. Systems analysts help identify breakpoints and work out solutions.

Software developer – projected job growth through 2024 at 17 percent with 186,600 positions; median 2014 wage at $97,990;  including technology and engineering fields

More and more powerful apps. Experiences on mobile and virtual reality devices we can barely imagine. New ways to communicate in the cloud. New security countermeasures and protections. The world needs more software developers — a lot more— to keep up with innovation. It’s why there will be nearly 20,000 new software developer positions created each year.

While STEM helps us understand how the world around us works, it is also a valuable ally in the world of work and a catalyst for career building.

Jason Compton is an internationally published writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise technologies, including marketing, sales, service, and collaboration. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post. 

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