Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working in Science and Math: It Pays to Be a Geek

I'm a geek and I know it... and I really wanna show it! I am proud to be among the ranks of the few, the proud, and the geeky. I consider my geekdom to be a badge of honor.

That said, you can guess how excited I was when my boss recently asked me to write an article about people who work in geeky fields -- namely science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). My three older brothers are also STEM geeks. Two are computer programmers and one is an engineer. That makes me, the Economist, the "soft scientist" in the group. Not everyone counts social scientists as STEM workers, but we do in Oregon.

More than 5 percent of Oregon's workforce (about 100,000 people) are in one of the STEM fields, and the number of workers is expected to grow. From 2008 to 2018, employment in Oregon's 88 STEM occupations is projected to increase nearly 8 percent.

STEM occupations differ from other occupations in a few ways. As the title of this post suggests, STEM workers earn higher average wages. For STEM occupations, the average wage is about $30 an hour, compared with $16 an hour for non-STEM workers.

The additional pay comes at a cost, however: STEM occupations require more education. Most STEM workers (78%) need at least an associate degree; most non-STEM workers (71%) need only related work experience or some on-the-job training.

There's also a fascinating discussion about the STEM workforce taking place in the U.S. right now. But you'll have to read the full article if you want to know more about that topic! As a bonus, the full article also talks about the demographic characteristics of STEM workers.

Questions or comments? Leave a note in the comments section or contact me directly: Brooke Jackson,, (503) 947-1263

No comments: