The hottest acronym in higher education today is STEM. Naturally, countries are racing to boost their proficiencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Getting ahead of the innovation game is how many, like South Korea and China notably, generate rapid economic growth and create jobs.
This has created a picture of STEM as an industry where college graduates can land a job and earn big bucks. In the UK, this is true to a certain extent. The following lists the top 10 highest paying STEM jobs in the UK, according to an analysis of over one million job ads by job search site Adzuna.
Engineering fields dominate the table. At the top are aeronautical engineering degree or Master holders who command average offers of £51,448. Civil or chemical engineering degrees landed in second and fourth place with salaries of £47,503 and £45,527 respectively.
But when it comes to job opportunities, the analysis found that these large paychecks don’t come in great numbers. “Due to their niche nature, only 220 job ads across the UK mention either of these subjects as a requirement to apply for the role,” according to Adzuna.
Instead, the most in-demand jobs are those requiring a technology degree. Applicants with a Computer Science degree were the most sought after with a huge 4,236 job vacancies followed by Information Technology (IT) with 1,847.
A report by the University of Leicester had similar findings when it comes to STEM job opportunities. Most STEM graduates (87 percent) find graduate-level positions shortly after graduating. Yet, only over half of this are in high-skilled STEM positions and only a minority work in the key STEM “shortage” occupational areas as science, ICT or engineering professionals. Many take on no-STEM roles, the Annual Population Survey (APS) data from 2004 to 2010 show.
The situation is less rosy among computing and engineering graduates. While 50 percent of employed computing and engineering graduates enter highly skilled (HS) STEM jobs, a high proportion (18 percent and 14 percent, respectively) are employed in routine occupations six months. These two fields are recording the highest rates of unemployment (13 and 10 percent, respectively.
The authors wrote these findings suggest “two routes for graduates from these disciplines: one that leads to highly-skilled professional jobs and another that leads to routine employment or unemployment.”
The name printed on one’s degree matters play a role too. “A disproportionate number” of STEM graduates from “higher status universities,” such as those in the Russell Group, land high-skilled graduates after graduating compared to more recently-established institutions.