A 2011 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that 65 percent of Bachelor’s degrees in STEM (science, engineering, technology and mathematics) occupations earn more than Master’s degrees in non-STEM occupations. Similarly, 47 percent of Bachelor’s degrees in STEM occupations earn more than PhDs in non-STEM occupations. Furthermore, people with only STEM certificates can earn more than people with non-STEM degrees; for instance certificate holders in engineering earn more than Associate’s degree-holders in business and more than Bachelor’s degree-holders in education.

STEM will grow to only 5 percent of all jobs by 2018 and demand for STEM talent is growing even faster outside of traditional STEM occupations. This increasing demand for STEM knowledge, skills and abilities allows many individuals with STEM talent to leave STEM occupations. Students and workers divert from STEM jobs because, while STEM is high-paying, STEM students have access to higher-paying career options.

The report finds that of out of every 100 students with a Bachelor’s degree, 19 graduate with a STEM degree but only eight are working in STEM occupations ten years after graduation.  But it’s not only about money—a major conclusion of the report is that STEM talent winds up outside of STEM occupations because STEM jobs often do not fully satisfy individual social and entrepreneurial interests.

“STEM provides choice for people both immediately after school and at mid-career, allowing people to transition to different and oftentimes more lucrative career pathways, including management and healthcare that provide long-term stability and excellent wages.” says Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center’s director and the report’s lead author.

The report details STEM earnings by occupation, race, sex, and education level, and finds:

For women and minorities, STEM is the best equal opportunity employer.
• For women and minorities, STEM is a good news/bad news story. Women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM.
• But for those who do persist, the pay gap in STEM between women and minorities and White men is smaller in STEM than in any other occupation.

STEM pays more than most jobs at each level of education, and at the graduate level is exceeded only by a small sliver of managerial and healthcare occupations.
• Over 70 percent of STEM workers at the high school or some college level make more than the average for workers in all other occupations at the same education level. More than two-thirds of Associate’s degree-holders in STEM make more than the average for all Associate’s degree-holders.

STEM training pays more even if you don’t work in a STEM occupation.
• Workers majoring in STEM in college earn more than all other majors over their lifetimes, even if they work in non-STEM occupations.

Apart from the full national report, STEM contains a state-level analysis of STEM jobs. 


Author and publisher information is provided below. Note that many publishers charge a fee or membership for full access. Permission/access must be requested through the publisher or author directly.


Anthony P. Carnevale
Nicole Smith
Michelle Melton
Center on Education and the Workforce
STEM Career Opportunities and Workforce Development
Publication Year
Additional Disciplines
Bioscience - general
Computer Science - general
Engineering - general
Environmental Science - general
Mathematics - general