5 STEM Majors That Lead to High Paying Career Options

5 STEM Majors That Lead to High Paying Career Options

by Matter & Form on August 6, 2019

In today’s tech-driven culture, there is an increasing demand for STEM talent and the demand only continues to grow.

The National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte reported that the United States will have to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025, with more than two million of them going unfilled because of the lack of highly skilled candidates.1

With so much opportunity out there for STEM-educated students, it is important that students know how many options they have moving forward. Here are five STEM majors that can lead to interesting, high-paying careers:

1. Engineering Major = Petroleum Engineer

If your student loves solving problems and building or tinkering with various gadgets and objects, a degree in Engineering might be just the thing for them. With the variety of different sub-branches including civil, mechanical, electrical, aerospace, chemical and environmental, there’s room to specialize in an area of greater interest. With a strong math and science background and knowledge base, engineers use their knowledge of scientific and mathematical principles to solve various pressing technical problems.

One of the top examples of a successful career path in the engineering field is a petroleum engineer. With the main goal of addressing and solving crucial problems in energy security, petroleum engineer’s evaluate potential oil and gas reservoirs, oversee drilling activities and design surface collection and treatment facilities to solve various technological, political, and economic issues in different countries.

  • Average Salary, 2017: $154,780
  • Projected Growth Rate, 2016-26: 14.5%
  • Average Annual Job Openings, 2016-26: 2,800

2. Physics Major = Natural Sciences Manager

Physics is essentially the study of the mechanics of our entire universe. If your student wants to understand the complex world around them, from explaining the shape of a water droplet to comprehending our place in the solar system, a physics degree could be where their curiosity takes them. Alongside practical work and experimentation, a physics degree also requires heavy theoretical learning and complex mathematics. Physics degrees can be applied to many different industries, including research science, space and astronomy, healthcare and engineering.

One such sub-branch of a physics degree is the study of the structure and behaviour of atoms and molecules. Students with this type of degree can become a natural sciences manager where they question, observe and create models and theories to further understand various sciences and modern technology.2

  • Average Salary, 2017: $133,670
  • Projected Growth Rate, 2016-26: 9.9%
  • Average Annual Job Openings, 2016-26: 5,200

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3. Computer Science Major = Software Developer

Wherever you’re reading this — whether it be on a laptop, tablet or a smartphone — you’re reading it on a device created using the expertise, theories and skills gained from computer science degrees. The rapidly-developing field of computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information and computation, taking a scientific and practical approach to computation and its applications. Students can choose between careers as software developers, IT consultants, database administrators, games developers or cybersecurity consultants to name only a few.

Should a student decide to pursue a career in software development, they can expect to build and code the platforms behind games, apps and technology.3

  • Average Salary, 2017: $111,780
  • Projected Growth Rate, 2016-26: 10.8%
  • Average Annual Job Openings, 2016-26: 32,700

4. Mathematics Major = Cryptographer

Mathematics plays a central role in science, technology, finance, aviation, communications and countless other industries. As a mathematics major, you’re likely to have the opportunity to explore advanced mathematical theory and analytical methods while sharpening your critical-thinking skills. And, once you enter the job market, you can apply mathematics to investigate and solve problems in a variety of fields.

One fascinating career opportunity for mathematics majors is cryptography. As a cryptographer, you make and break codes and coming up with more effective ways to keep sensitive data safe from computer hackers.4

  • Average Salary, 2018: $116,476
  • Projected Growth Rate, 2016-26: 30%
  • Average Annual Job Openings, 2016-26: 100,000 5

5. Biology Major = Biological Scientist

From the study of zoology to genetics, to ecosystems, to botany, a degree in biology or biological sciences will offer students a solid foundation on all levels of biological organization.

A professional career in biology can take many forms: as a zoologist, microbiologist or biological scientist. A biological scientist might work at laboratories, research organizations or pharmaceutical companies. Here, they would conduct and oversee research centred around various facets of the natural world.6

  • Average Salary, 2017: $80,200
  • Projected Growth Rate, 2016-26: 7.9%
  • Average Annual Job Openings, 2016-26: 3,700 7

The Importance of a STEM Education

To get the next generation actively seeking jobs in STEM, students need to be immersed in an education that focuses on compelling real-world applications — and this starts in schools.

According to a Randstad North America survey, 52 percent of students ages 11 to 17 don’t know anyone with a job in STEM. However, 64 percent of students rated creating video games for a career as “very fun”. Moreover, 54 percent think it would be “very fun” to earn a living studying marine life. Almost half of the students said they don’t know what kind of math jobs exist. Finally, 76 percent reported not knowing what engineers do.8 These stats underscore the need to expose students to STEM majors and education as early as possible.

Integrating STEM-based learning into the classroom is especially important when it comes to secondary education. Providing high school students with a solid STEM foundation is essential in order for them to excel in the prerequisites needed to pursue the above-mentioned post-secondary degrees. Tools like VR headsets, coding programs, and 3D scanners can be valuable teaching equipment that introduces students to emerging technologies in a comprehensive and creative way.

Learn how to implement STEM into your classroom curriculum! Visit our blog and download our free lesson plans here.


  1. Emerson, 2 in 5 Americans Believe the STEM Worker Shortage is at Crisis Levels
  2. Top Universities, Physics Degrees
  3. Top Universities, Computer Science Degrees
  4. Trade Schools, Colleges, and Universities, 28 Jobs for Math Majors That Offer Awesome Opportunities
  5. Study.com, Cryptographer: Job Description, Duties and Salary Information
  6. Study.com, How to Become a Biological Scientist: Education and Career Roadmap
  7. World Wide Web, 25 Best STEM Majors for 2019
  8. Randstad, Employers Must Redefine STEM to Attract future talent, According to new Randstad US data