Briola Giancarlo/Wikimedia Commons

How to find your perfect STEM career path

There’s something for everyone.

JACINTA BOWLER
10 OCT 2016
 

There’s a lot of variety in STEM – or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - with jobs available in everything from ecology and medicine, to theoretical physics and coding. So how do you know which path is right for you?

We’ve teamed up with STEM Study, a new app and initiative created by Florida Polytechnic University, to help you figure out which science or tech career might be your best bet.

Whether you want to save the planet from climate change, or build smarter machines, we’ve got you covered.

Fighting antibiotic resistance

Microbiologists, mathematicians, and software engineers are all working together to tackle one of humanity’s greatest problems. Antibiotic resistance has been called a "fundamental threat" to global health by the United Nations and solving it will take ingenuity.

If you get excited learning how bacteria and viruses function in the human, this could be a career to explore.

One of the best ways to tackle the antibiotic resistance is to use computer algorithms and models to better predict how bacteria species will respond to certain drugs, so studying computer science could be a way into one of the hottest STEM careers in the coming decades.

Get involved and join the hunt for new drugs that end our reliance on antibiotics and help us fight disease long into the future.

Finding new particles

In the 21st century, the Standard Model of physics is the best set of formulae we have for explaining the Universe and how it works.

But there are some big gaps, such as how the heck gravity works, plus why matter and antimatter didn’t just annihilate each other when the Big Bang happened.

Physicists are now using giant machines like the Large Hadron Collider to look for evidence of physics occurring beyond the Standard Model, and they’re getting very close to finding it.

If you want to be part of the quest for brand new physics, choose a STEM major in theoretical physics or mathematics.

After all, someone has to crunch all the numbers on how these hypothetical new particles could work, and it sounds like a pretty awesome job to us.

Finding ways to get humans further into space

There’s still a lot of science that needs to happen before we send humans to the Red Planet and beyond. Like how do we grow food on the Martian surface? How will humans deal with the many months in isolation?

There are many different degrees that could help you get to the basics of the science of space travel, but NASA currently needs microbiologists, pilots, and engineers to join their crew, so that gives you come pretty cool places to start, no matter what your interests are.

Check out which STEM major might be right for you.

Building smarter machines

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is going to be a huge part of our lives over the next century. And thanks to advances in machine learning, we’re getting closer to smarter, more responsive robots and software that could help us make advances in healthcare, our cars, and even our homes.

But someone has to program all these new and exciting machines.

If you’re fascinated by artificial intelligence and the way robots work – and want to learn how to code ­– software engineering or computer science could be your perfect pathway.

Take the STEM study quiz now to find out what type of engineer you should be.

Saving the world from climate change

Alright, budding researchers, there is a big job ahead of you. Climate change is a huge issue, and is not going away any time soon.

But not many people know that one of the best ways you can help protect our planet is through a career in engineering.

Engineers are already working out ways to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it in useful materials, and are developing more efficient renewable energy technology, such as better solar panels and quieter wind turbines.

Graduates with engineering degrees are also needed to work on last-resort options, like developing that might rapidly cool the planet down if all else fails, and walls and dams to protect cities from rising oceans.

Whatever you’re interested in, a degree in engineering could get you started on a career that helps save the world.

Manipulating big data

Do you love crunching numbers, and looking for patterns in data?

With exponential amounts of data collected every second, there’s a huge demand for people trained do something productive with it. For instance, the data could provide insights on health risks and lifestyle patterns, or even figure out trends in the environment and climate.

Thanks to all this information, there are huge opportunities in big data, and if you want to be in the running for them, a degree in advanced technology could be the right move.

Is that all?

If none of these ideas sound right for you, that’s okay, because there’s plenty more STEM majors that you could take – and that could take you into jobs as diverse as science journalism and astronomy.

To help you narrow it down further, take the STEM Study quiz to find out which courses match your skills.

And finally, good luck to all you future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers!

This article was sponsored by Florida Polytechnic University. Find out more about their STEM Study initiative and download the free app (iOS) here to get a head start in your science or engineering career.

More From ScienceAlert

Will Earth still exist in 5 billion years?

Lessons from a twin solar system.

20 hours ago