I’m sure a lot of you out there are relieved if your children intend to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field, which represent just six percent of the current American workforce.
STEM majors find the job market much easier because too few Americans are receiving degrees in these difficult disciplines. And STEM majors make more money than the rest of us.
What I just said is the conventional wisdom, but what if I told you that the STEM advantage could be a myth?
Many experts are suggesting that the STEM employment advantage just doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. And this is supremely ironic considering that politicians are badgering colleges and universities to offer more STEM majors and to ditch those “worthless” liberal arts offerings. Some politicians are even threatening to cut back funding to schools that don’t want to jump on the STEM bandwagon.
This week The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote an exhaustive article on the subject in which the author interviewed experts across the country and shared research on whether STEM majors enjoy an employment advantage. According to the article, most independent researcher say the answer is no.
In another piece that I wrote for CBS MoneyWatch (you’ll learn more about it below), the STEM salary advantage is also questioned. The post suggests that Americans who major in a “TEM” major are the ones most likely to enjoy a salary advantage, not science majors.
If there really was a STEM labor shortage, experts told The Chronicle, we’d be witnessing an overall rise in wages in the technology and science fields and that is not happening. Thanks to the fracking boom, petroleum engineers are indeed enjoying rising salaries, as are some information technology workers, but most in the STEM fields aren’t, according to The Chronicle piece:
The article notes that corporations, including Microsoft, have advocated for more federal dollars for STEM education and more visas for foreign IT workers even as they lay off thousands of Americans with comparable skills. Here is where you can read the entire article:
A STEM Salary Advantage?
A piece that I wrote for my college blog at CBS MoneyWatch last month supports the dour article in The Chronicle.
In the piece I mention a new, eye-opening study by College Measures, which is a nonprofit that helps state governments disseminate real salary data on new college graduates. The study used actual first-year salary data on new college graduates provided from state employment databases in Colorado, Texas and Virginia.
The research of these actual salaries revealed that at least in these three states, the students majoring in the sciences, typically didn’t earn salaries that were any higher than those majoring in subjects like sociology and English literature.
Here is a chart of salaries for young grads in Texas that illustrates the study’s conclusions:
To learn more, here is my post: