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Work Toward a Global Career with a STEM Degree

career planning
advice for students
By Deshan Mendis
Last updated on March 8, 2022

With a STEM degree, gain specialized skills and knowledge that allows you to access advanced careers with unlimited potential.

Two international students working on circuitry together at a table.

Careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (also known as STEM) have traditionally shown strong and consistent growth, and the future looks bright, too. STEM jobs are expected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, creating more than 3.5 million jobs by 2025 (Study International, 2021). Attending a US university and choosing to study STEM specializations, such as artificial intelligence, engineering, data analytics, and similar fields, can lead to increased eligibility and a longer qualifying period for Optional Practical Training (OPT). STEM degrees also lead to a greater variety of career opportunities worldwide and high employer demand, which gives you flexibility and choices for where you live and work. 

Whether you are new to STEM or want to dive into more advanced fields, a STEM degree is a great way to gain key industry qualifications. It is also a great choice to work toward a lucrative career: individuals with STEM-related degrees earn some of the highest average salaries in the US! 

Read on to learn more about your potential career choices in STEM-related fields and how a STEM degree can help you excel across a variety of industries. 

What Are STEM-Related Fields?

STEM fields cover any industries involved in the sectors of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As these are very broad fields, companies usually specialize in a specific advanced field within one industry, such as solar energy technology or voice-recognition software. On the other hand, because these industries are so large, many career paths in STEM-related fields can have intersecting requirements. For example, if you studied software engineering, you may qualify for jobs such as network engineer, cybersecurity expert, or video game developer. 

Careers in STEM-related fields often require a strong foundation in STEM subjects, such as calculus, physics, biology, coding, statistics, and more. Depending on the type of career you are aiming for, you may even obtain cross-discipline knowledge, such as biomedical engineering.

Unlike the fields of business and arts that emphasize behavior, emotion, and psychology, STEM-related fields focus on numbers, logic, systems, and other measurable metrics. Students who are proficient in technical fields and enjoy STEM subjects, such as an artificial intelligence course or a data science course, are likely to thrive in STEM careers.

Do I Need a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree?

Due to the technical nature of STEM industries, STEM companies typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs. Earning a bachelor’s degree in the STEM field you plan to pursue equips you with the necessary basics you need to successfully perform in entry-level roles, and gives you a pathway to explore more specialized areas throughout your career. 

Additionally, many STEM-related bachelor’s degree programs recognize the importance of developing practical knowledge and skills, and may provide internship or training opportunities for hands-on experience at major employers. One opportunity is Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows you to work or train in the US before or after your graduation for up to 12 months. With a STEM-related degree, you can be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT, giving you a total of three years to work in the US!

Many STEM-related organizations specialize in particular fields, so STEM jobs will likely have their own unique systems and processes that require on-the-job learning to master. As such, you may not need a master’s degree to progress on your career path. However, certain job roles may require managerial skills or highly advanced understanding of complex fields, and this is where a master’s degree, such as an MBA in business analytics, for example, can support your skill development and open up new opportunities.

Keep in mind that the exact qualifications you need to start your career in a STEM-related field will differ greatly depending on your professional interests and the industries where you may work. So, as you get ready to declare your major, remember to choose the degree that will provide the qualifications you need.

What Are Some Examples of STEM-Related Degrees and Careers?

When many people think of ‘STEM-related careers,’ the field of computer science is often the first that comes to mind, but this is just one of many potential STEM paths. There are so many fields and specializations that can lead to fulfilling work around the world and career satisfaction. Let us take a look at three fast-growing, high-potential careers, and the US university degrees that can build your qualifications for them.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) usually refers to a system or machine that has been programmed with an advanced level of intelligence, allowing the AI to learn or even carry out functions with its own rules and logic. AIs have a wide range of uses, from the common chatbots you see when visiting a website to highly sophisticated learning machines that can imitate human behavior.

A bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence equips you with the technical skills you need to start developing AI, like coding, human-AI interaction, speech recognition, language translation, and more. Graduate programs in artificial intelligence cover more advanced fields, such as robotics, machine learning, and intelligent interaction.

Here is a look at a few entry-level roles you can qualify for with a degree in artificial intelligence and their average starting salaries in the US:

Artificial Intelligence Engineer

Salary

$77,805

Computer Vision Engineer

Salary

$74,029

Machine Learning Engineer

Salary

$83,637

Robotics Engineer

Salary

$76,786

Software Engineer

Salary

$79,294

Source: SalaryExpert

With artificial intelligence being such a technical field, it is important to enroll in a course or degree program that provides detailed classes and first-hand experience. 

For example, the Applied Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Dayton provides undergraduate students with the chance to develop practical skills and experience in a variety of AI-related fields. Course topics include machine learning, engineering geological modeling, infrastructure stability, and more, with students progressing toward more advanced fields such as coding implementation and learning algorithms. 

Here are a few other options if you want to take an artificial intelligence course at US universities.

Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering — University of Illinois Chicago

The Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering program offered at the University of Illinois Chicago equips students with modern skills and knowledge through practical learning. Students work with expert faculty in fields such as nanoscale devices, image processing, communication theory, and more, to find solutions to diverse challenges. Specialized classes include Neural Networks, Robotics: Algorithms and Control, and Mechatronic Embedded Systems Design.

Master’s in Computer Science — University of Massachusetts Boston

The Master’s in Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston is a comprehensive program that prepares students for a variety of software development careers, including roles specializing in artificial intelligence. Advanced classes include mathematical logic, user interface design, machine learning, and more.

Business Analytics

What is business analytics? The field of business analytics combines data analysis with business strategy to collect, analyze, and utilize market information for a business’s decision-making processes. Analyzed data could range from customer purchasing patterns to predicted industry trends and much more. Business analytics is key for any data-driven business, as it allows companies to make smart business decisions based on factual information and data.

To prepare you for business analytics careers, programs such as a master’s in business analytics teach you how to analyze collected data and use this information to develop new business plans or objectives. A business analytics course or an MBA in business analytics could cover subjects such as data mining, forecasting, predictive analytics, project management, and more. 

Here is a look at a few entry-level roles you could qualify for with a degree in business analytics and average starting salaries in the US:

Analytics Consultant

Salary

$60,442

Business Analyst

Salary

$67,254

Data Scientist

Salary

$81,456

Project Manager

Salary

$82,496

System Analyst

Salary

$69,604

Source: SalaryExpert

When choosing a business analytics program, make sure the business analytics course covers both business and computer science topics. As the two fields are so closely related in this role, it is critical to make sure you develop a solid understanding of both subjects. 

Here are four business analytics programs to consider:

Master of Science in Business Analytics — Adelphi University

The business analytics graduate degree program at Adelphi University teaches you how to utilize analytics for business strategies on a global scale across multiple industries. Students can take part in hands-on learning experiences through projects with corporate partners, which will also help you grow your professional network. 

Master of Information Systems — Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University’s Master of Information Systems program is uniquely designed to help international students like you specialize in a wide variety of fields, including business analytics. Through the program, learn about fields such as enterprise databases, emerging technologies, project management, and e-commerce, which are key to any business analyst role. If you are new to the field, the program also includes a preparatory program that covers the fundamentals.

Master of Business Analytics — University of Dayton

The Master of Business Analytics program at the University of Dayton prepares students to collect, clean, and analyze data trends while exploring different fields. You can specialize in business intelligence, cybersecurity management, project management, or systems analysis and design. The program offers an accelerated course pace, allowing you to complete your degree in just 12 months.

Master of Science in Business Analytics — University of Massachusetts Boston

This graduate program at the University of Massachusetts Boston covers analytical techniques, methods, and applications for business analytics in organizations across multiple industries. Choose from two specializations: big data analytics or supply chain analytics. The program builds skills in mathematical and algorithmic techniques, problem identification, and using technology to develop cost-effective solutions. 

Master of Science in Business Analytics — University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program is open to students with a bachelor’s degree (any major). Students learn how to translate and analyze data into solutions that drive business strategies, while also studying mathematics, statistics, programming, and more. The program takes nine months to complete and offers an internship program component, allowing students to gain first-hand work experience before graduation. Structured in a hybrid curriculum format, the program combines online learning with on-campus evening classes. 

Data Science

Data science combines mathematics, machine learning techniques, and algorithms used to understand the patterns and relationships between different sets of data. With the large amount of data that global economies generate every day, major employers around the world are always looking to hire employees skilled in data analysis. 

A degree in data science develops in-demand skills such as coding, pattern recognition, business intelligence, and how to interpret and present unstructured data. While these skills enable you to excel in data science, they also diversify your skillset and make you an asset to companies in multiple industries.

Here is a look at a few entry-level roles you can qualify for with a degree in data science and their average starting salaries in the US:

Data Architect

Salary

$76,170

Data Engineer

Salary

$74,089

Data Mining Specialist

Salary

$59,146

Market Research Analyst

Salary

$65,309

Statistician

Salary

$70,119

Source: SalaryExpert

Careers in data science are expected to grow 28% by 2025 as technology and computer-based data collection becomes a large part of many industries, including health care, engineering, and service-based businesses. To meet this demand, many US universities have developed well-rounded courses and qualifications that train students in sought-after data science tools and techniques. 

The following data science course options prepare graduates for data science jobs around the world: 

Master of Science in Data Science — American University

American University’s Master of Science in Data Science program gives students the chance to work directly with complex data, as you learn how to acquire, process, analyze, and present information. The program focuses on fields such as statistical methods and programming, regression, statistical machine learning, and more. Choose from five tracks including Applied Public Affairs, Business Analytics, Computer Science, Environmental Science, or Microeconomic Analysis.

Master’s in Data Science and Engineering, Data Science Track — Auburn University 

Through the Master of Science in Data Science and Engineering — Data Science track, offered at Auburn University, you work toward a career in data science and engineering by learning how to manage and utilize large quantities of raw data. The program combines both theory and application to equip you with modern industry knowledge on topics such as data mining, machine learning, statistical learning, and more. 

Master of Science in Engineering – Data Science — Johns Hopkins University

The Master of Science in Engineering — Data Science at Johns Hopkins University empowers students to become the next generation of data science leaders. Through the program, you will engage in applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science, as you understand, interpret, and utilize big data through a collection of data science tools. The program also includes a research-focused final project as part of its Capstone Experience, allowing you to pursue groundbreaking research.

Master of Science in Data Science — University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific’s Master of Science in Data Science helps students develop their skills and knowledge in key areas of data science, including linear algebra, statistics, data visualization, and more. Learn how to extract value from data to support business decision-making while designing and developing data-powered solutions to complex challenges. The flexible program uses a unique hybrid curriculum that combines in-person classes with online sessions.

The Careers of Tomorrow Are Built by STEM

As technology develops and our understanding of digital systems grows, STEM-related careers constantly evolve, branching out into all-new fields. With a degree in STEM, you’ll learn core qualifications that global employers value and seek out. 

If you are ready to get started with a STEM degree, a Shorelight advisor is always ready to help. Shorelight advisors provide dedicated international student support services, such as finding your best-fit school, choosing the right degree, putting together a career plan and resume, and so much more.

Start preparing for a rewarding and lucrative career that gives you flexibility and mobility — wherever you hope to go in the future.

Discover STEM degrees at Shorelight universities