Real-Time Insight Into The Market For Entry-Level STEM Jobs

Here, we take a look at entry-level STEM job postings in 2013 and provide analysis of the skills gap in this key sector. Our research reveals that the demand for STEM talent is significantly greater than commonly reported, and the supply of STEM college graduates continues to lag far behind employer STEM talent needs.

Key Findings

  • In 2013, there were 5.7 million total postings in STEM fields. Of those, 76%, or 4.4 million, require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 41%, or 2.3 million, are entry-level jobs requiring less than 2 years of experience.

  • 48% of all entry-level jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher (BA+) are in STEM fields, while only 29% of bachelor’s degree graduates earn a STEM degree. At the sub-baccalaureate level (Sub-BA), 24% of entry-level jobs are in STEM fields, while 32% of Sub-BA degrees are in STEM concentrations.

  • There are 2.5 entry-level job postings for each new 4-year graduate in STEM fields compared to 1.1 postings for each new BA graduate in non-STEM fields.

  • STEM jobs offer a substantial salary premium. The average advertised salary for entry-level STEM jobs requiring a BA or higher is $66,123 compared to $52,299 for non-STEM jobs. This difference of approximately $14,000 represents a 26% premium. At the Sub-BA level, the average advertised entry-level salary is $47,856 for STEM jobs and $37,424 for non-STEM jobs. This difference of over $10,000 represents a 28% premium.

Total STEM Jobs by Career Area


Executive Summary Chart


 

Demand for Jobs Requiring STEM Skills is Far greater than Typically Reported…And the Number is Growing

Our analysis indicates a far higher number of STEM job openings than typically reported. Looking just at entry-level jobs, we found 2.3M entry-level STEM postings in 2013. These postings encompass 48% of all bachelor’s degree or higher entry-level postings and 24% of all entry-level postings in occupations that typically require sub-baccalaureate post-secondary training.

Looking across all jobs, STEM jobs account for 38% of total online postings but only 16% of total employment. The BLS predicts that STEM jobs will grow 55% faster than non-STEM jobs over the next decade.[1]

STEM Graduates Have Access to 2x as Many Entry-level Jobs as Non-STEM Graduates

The job market for new graduates strongly favors those from STEM fields. Nearly half (48%) of entry-level BA+ postings are in STEM fields compared with fewer than one-third of degree recipients. In the job market, this correlates to 2.5 entry-level postings for each new bachelor’s graduate in STEM fields compared with only 1.1 entry-level postings per new bachelor’s graduate in non-STEM fields.

At the Sub-BA level, the market is more balanced with the percent of STEM postings and STEM degrees within 10% of each other. At the Sub-BA level, healthcare jobs account for 79% of the STEM postings and 72% of all degrees.

Table 1: Comparing Entry-level STEM Postings to Recent STEM Graduates


  STEM Job Postings (number) STEM Degrees (number) STEM Job Postings (percent) STEM Degrees (percent)
Bachelor’s Level 1,373,628 553,895 48% 29%
Sub-BA Level 964,237 664,003 24% 32%

 

Table 2: Entry-Level Job Postings for New Graduates


  STEM Job Postings
(number)
STEM Degrees
(number)
Bachelor’s Level 2.5 1.1
Sub-BA Level 1.5 N/A

 

 

 

 

STEM Jobs Pay More

STEM jobs offer a substantial salary premium. The average advertised salary for entry-level STEM jobs requiring a BA or higher is $66,123 compared to $52,299 for non-STEM jobs. This difference of around $14,000 represents a 26% premium. At the Sub-BA level, the average advertised entry-level salary is $47,856 for STEM jobs and $37,424 for non-STEM jobs. This difference of over $10,000 represents a 28% premium.

Table 3: Average Entry-Level Salaries: STEM vs. Non-STEM


  Average Advertised Entry-Level Salary STEM Premium
STEM Fields Non-STEM Fields Amount Percent
Bachelor’s Level $66,123 $52,299 $13,824 26%
Sub-BA Level $47,856 $37,424 $10,432 28%

 

 

 

 

 

Entry-Level STEM Jobs by Field

For bachelor’s-level jobs or higher, there is opportunity across the range of STEM jobs. Healthcare accounts for the largest portion of postings, followed by IT, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Analysts, and the Sciences. In every STEM category other than Sciences, entry-level salaries for STEM jobs requiring at least a bachelor’s are significantly higher than the BA+ average of $52,299.

Figure 1: BA+ Entry-Level STEM Postings


Overall Chart


Sub-BA opportunities in STEM fields are far fewer then STEM opportunities at the bachelor’s level and above. They account for 25% of all Sub-BA jobs, with the vast majority – 89% – falling into the Healthcare and IT fields. Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing also offer some opportunities for Sub-BA STEM job seekers in Engineering Technician and Manufacturing Technician roles. With the exception of healthcare jobs, Sub-BA STEM jobs do not offer a salary premium over non-STEM Sub-BA jobs.

Figure 2: Sub-BA Entry-Level STEM Postings


Sub -BA


 

Top Occupations by Field

The table below highlights the top five occupations within each of the STEM categories by the number of entry-level job postings in 2013. Where relevant, we have indicated the distribution of minimum degree requirements specified by employers in their postings.

Table 4: Top Occupations By Field


Top Entry-Level STEM Occupations Entry-Level Job Openings Percent of Postings Requiring a BA or Higher Percent of Postings Requiring a Sub-BA
Healthcare
Registered Nurse 466,508 36% 64%
Licensed Practical / Vocational Nurse 95,831 Required license is a Sub-BA degree
Physician 94,376 Required license is an MD
Physical Therapist 60,798 Required license is a Master’s Level Degree
Medical Assistant 60,730 Required license is a Sub-BA degree
Information Technology
Computer Support Specialist 121,426 34% 66%
Software Developer / Engineer 95,182 86% 14%
Systems Analyst 63,727 84% 16%
Network / Systems Admin 32,682 62% 38%
Database Administrator 21,582 63% 37%
Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing
Civil Engineer 25,767 Required license is a BA degree or higher
Quality Inspector / Technician 25,508 24% 76%
CNC Machinist 23,918 Typically open to Sub-BA graduates
Mechanical Engineer 22,533 Required license is a BA degree or higher
Electrical Engineer 12,372 Required license is a BA degree or higher
Analysts
Logistician / Logistics Analyst 17,768 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Business Intelligence Analyst 16,166 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Data / Data Mining Analyst 7,913 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Supply Chain Analyst 2,915 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Actuary 2,613 Required license is a BA degree or higher
Sciences
Medical Scientist 26,360 Typically requires a graduate level degree
Chemist 6,807 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Biologist 4,595 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Clinical Research Coordinator 4,525 Primarily open to BA+ Job Seekers
Biological Technician 4,368 67% 33%

 

Approach and Methodology

A Broad Definition of STEM Roles

For this analysis, we have taken a job seeker- and student-centric approach to defining STEM occupations. We define STEM jobs as those that have substantial math and science requirements included within the standard course of training or as part of the qualifications that employers specifically request in postings. This contrasts with traditional methodologies which tend to focus only on jobs that are primarily engaged in scientific, mathematical, or technological activity.

STEM jobs cover the following areas: Science, Information Technology, Engineering, Math (labeled here as Analysts) and Healthcare. Unlike many traditional definitions of STEM jobs, we have included those clinical healthcare roles which require that job seekers undertake substantial coursework in the biological sciences to qualify. Additionally, we have included a range of “analyst” jobs such as Data Analysts, Logistics Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts, which call for significant mathematics training. These analyst jobs represent a far larger portion of the demand for mathematics skills in the labor market than traditional “math” roles such as Statisticians or Actuaries.

In order to provide the most relevant comparison for job seekers, we compare STEM jobs that require a Bachelor’s degree or higher to all other jobs at those degree levels. We compare Sub-BA STEM jobs to other sub-baccalaureate jobs that typically require post-secondary training or provide career advancement opportunities.

Counting STEM Postings In Real-Time

Our counts of STEM jobs come from analysis of actual job postings. Burning Glass generates job posting data by visiting over 32,000 online jobs sites to collect online postings. Using proprietary text analytics, over 70 data fields are extracted from each posting, including job title, occupation, employer, industry, required skills, credentials and salary. Postings are then deduplicated and placed in a database for further analysis. This analysis focuses on entry-level postings, defined as job postings that call for two years or less experience, that were posted in 2013.

Degree counts included in this analysis are from 2013 IPEDS data reflecting graduates in the 2011-2012 academic year. Those degrees in scientific, technological or quantitative fields or which map to STEM jobs are counted at STEM degrees. Graduates of sub-baccalaureate math and science transfer degrees are not included in our estimates of supply.

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