Promising STEM Careers Don’t Always Require a Degree


Written by: Reagan Flowers, Ph.D.

Do high-paying STEM careers require college degrees? Here at C-STEM, we focus on K-12 STEM education, often with the goal of a college degree. Ultimately, we strive to give underrepresented students the opportunities they need to establish fulfilling careers and turn the tide for the next generation of students. However, with STEM careers continuing to multiply faster than ever, we’re finding that some of these careers do not require a college degree. In fact, many of these jobs are paying more than those that require a degree.

Why Obtaining a Degree is Challenging

For many students, the cost is the most talked-about barrier to obtaining a college degree. With the cost of college doubling every nine years, it’s only becoming more difficult to afford.

For our Black, impoverished, and other underrepresented students, there are many more factors involved. Related to cost, many of these students need to work to support their families. Choosing a STEM career as a trade can be the answer. They can begin work faster, instead of waiting four years to get there.

Multilingual students face a lack of resources that make it difficult to be successful in college. Blacks and women are still a vast minority in science careers, mostly due to lack of representation and discrimination. And as we talked about last month, socioeconomics and ethnicity both have a large impact on student attainment. This comes through in the form of extremely low associate’s and bachelor’s degree attainment, as well as vast gaps in literacy levels.

Finally, for many students, whether due to a learning disability or another reason, hands-on learning can better connect concepts and skills, creating a much more doable path to acquiring the skills to obtain a certification in high-demand fields such as plumbing or HVAC. Read more…

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