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Posted October 13, 2016 by

Exploring STEM Career Opportunities

1392453Guest writer Luciana Amaro, Vice President Talent Development & Strategy, BASF

The STEM workforce–science, technology, engineering and mathematics–is crucial to America’s global competitiveness. Today’s STEM graduates have more career opportunities now than at any other time in U.S. history. This three-part series from BASF, the world’s leading chemical company, examines ways that college students and new grads can establish a strong foundation that equips them to join the next generation of scientists and engineers. Read the previous post about different paths to consider when preparing for a career in STEM.

Students entering the STEM industry today have more career opportunities than ever before. That’s because there will be an estimated shortfall of 2 million workers in manufacturing over the next decade, with six out of every 10 positions going unfilled due to a skills gap (Deloitte). Simply put: we don’t have enough STEM grads to meet the demand.

This shortfall has created fierce competition among companies seeking the best scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians. For example, if you are a petroleum engineer, your field will grow 10 percent by 2024 due to increased oil production in the U.S.

As a new STEM job candidate, where should you look?

Making an impact

Many truly game-changing positions that impact society require a degree in a STEM discipline. Feeding a hungry world, developing housing, improving transportation and creating innovative energy solutions all require a STEM education. Some of the exciting positions open today include:

  • Research and development scientists who are discovering alternative fuel options;
  • Software developers and industrial designers who are inventing the next smartphone or life-saving medical device; and
  • Structural and mechanical engineers who are improving infrastructure and building bridges.

With a breadth of jobs available, it is important to select a company that offers broad opportunities for innovation and advancement.

Landing the role

To land your dream job, begin building a professional network. One great way to do this is by joining a professional association such as the AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) and NAM (National Association of Manufacturers). Associations offer a specialized network of professionals with similar values and goals, which can be incredibly helpful as you seek a mentor to help guide your career development. You can also join a group on LinkedIn such as STEM Educators & Researchers or MentorNet, where you can interact with other professionals to better understand their positions and solicit their advice.

Reaping the benefits  

Many careers in the STEM fields promote innovation and allow you to be at the forefront of emerging ideas. The myriad career options also allow you to explore different areas to uncover your passions. For instance, you may begin your career in plastics but later discover that agriculture is more interesting. Companies such as BASF provide young professionals the opportunity to discuss their career roadmap with their supervisor in order to determine their preference in becoming a generalist or a specialist in a particular area.

A STEM career can pay well. The starting salary for a petroleum engineer is $88,700 and a nuclear engineer is $62,900. Jobs in the STEM industry on average pay about 1.7 times the national average, according to the BLS.

While compensation is important, there are other considerations that you should take into account before selecting a role and employer. For example, at BASF we offer a rewards program that encourages work-life balance, professional development programs, and travel opportunities.

Read next week’s post in our series, “Growing Your Career in STEM.”

luciana-amaroLuciana Amaro is a Vice President in BASF Corporation’s Human Resources department, leading the Talent Development and Strategy unit.  In her current role, which she assumed on August 1, 2014, she is responsible for North American talent management, leadership development, staffing and university relations, workforce planning, learning and development, organizational development and change management.