Half of STEM jobs don’t need 4-year degree

Half of STEM jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to a new Brookings report. These jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction, installation, maintenance and repair pay $53,000 on average. That’s more than a barista with a sociology degree earns.

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    “That’s more than a barista with a sociology degree earns.”

    It is also more than a barista with a STEM degree earns 🙂

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    Yeah, getting kids from disadvantaged backgrounds (or even kids who have little interest in 4 year degrees) into working or middle class jobs/trades/professions should be an absolute priority. Community colleges that offer certificates or 2 year degrees and a path into those type of jobs should be their first stop after high school. With a minimum amount of student debt (a two year degree from my local cc costs in total $18,000) and a middle class job as a radiographer or electronics technician (2 degrees my local cc offers in fields where positions are well paid and available) the middle class is achievable. Later, if they choose to, they’re in a position to return to school and get a 4 year or advanced degree. Sometimes private industry will pay tuition for employees who want to upgrade degrees/skills. As technology evolves, re-training will become a constant anyways.

    This is all very achievable if (big if) they’re leaving high school with decent basic skills – meaning they can form a complete sentence and paragraph and have the basic math/algebra kills in place – and that’s what our high schools should be focusing on. Duel enrollment for the last two years of high school should be strongly encouraged for good students.

    They’re in a much stronger position as 20 year olds with a certificate/2 year specialized degree in hand for a job that’s probably waiting for them – a job whose wages will cover rent, car payment, and student loan – all with minimum debt and later opportunities to return to school if they so choose.

    We need to do away with some of the liberal arts requirements (2 years of foreign language) for some high school students and focus on getting them the basic skills they need to enter a cc without the need of remediation. “college ready for everyone” should mean ready for a community college – not necessarily a liberal arts or STEMs 4 year college/degree.

    That whole system post WWII of credentialing with 4 year liberal arts degrees has lost its value. Time to adjust.

    • Stacy,

      A recent article which came out today showed that only 1 in 4 high school graduates could actually pass the AFQT exam for entry into the armed forces, where you’ll actually get paid to learn a skill (on the taxpayer’s dime), and perhaps make a career out of it.

      In my home state of Nevada, only one in five high school graduates can actually pass the AFQT (aka ASVAB), now what chance do you think these students (who are high school graduates, mind you) actually have of succeeding at the college level without a serious amount of remediation.

      IMO, we need to put more focus into grades K-5 and making sure that students know their basics before they’re actually promoted to the next grade.

      When a high school here (which was just lowered from a 4 star (out of 5) ranking to 2 stars) due to the fact that it only graduates 55% of it’s seniors, has a 5% passing rate on the algebra I final exam, and only 30% of it’s 10th graders read at grade level (English II in my day, which is a course I actually flunked for a whole year, and had to retake as a senior in order to graduate), it’s no surprise that many students aren’t ‘college ready’.