What Makes A Job A STEM Job?

A new study from the Brookings Institution finds that jobs tied to science, technology, engineering or mathematics — or STEM fields — make up a far larger proportion of the economy than previously believed.


Jobs tied to STEM fields are widely viewed as a major driver for economic growth. The federal government now spends more than $4 billion a year on education in these fields. The vast majority of this goes to support occupations requiring bachelor’s or more-advanced degrees. By contrast, community colleges receive little if any such aid.

Brookings researcher Jonathan Rothwell says this ignores a huge number of STEM jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree.

“It’s a much, much more diverse group of occupations. It includes installation, maintenance, repair workers. It includes construction and extraction workers, in particular. And many of these jobs, in fact 50% of STEM jobs, while still requiring a very high level of knowledge, do not require a bachelor’s degree. Typically, they require some sort of post-secondary education, either a certificate or an associate’s degree.”

The report finds Houston has the sixth-greatest concentration of STEM jobs of any U.S. metro area.


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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