Preparing for High-Tech Careers: STEM Skills and Applications

Science and technology are evolving at a record pace. To ensure that humanity continues to grow and become more advanced, people must have the right set of skills for the high-demand careers of both today and tomorrow. Science, technology, engineering, and math, commonly known by the acronym STEM, are areas of expertise that play an important role in shaping the future while also improving life in the present. Careers that make up the STEM market are in high demand with job growth in areas that include the government, law enforcement, and health care.

Choosing and Building Interest in STEM Applications

Developing an interest in the various STEM applications is an important first step toward obtaining the skills necessary for one of the many related career options. Often, this interest is one that can be developed and nurtured while in high school or earlier. This requires teachers who themselves have the necessary skills and training to educate their students. Whether one is a student in high school or college or reconsidering their career path, it is important to have a clear idea of what areas are of interest and what career options have the best current and projected growth. One way to determine this is to preview STEM-related careers listed with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While these jobs often require some sort of college education, such as a bachelor's degree or higher, it may be possible to pursue a STEM career without one depending on the specific job and one's experience.

Computer Forensics

Computers are a common tool used by criminals to commit or attempt to commit crimes. This makes them vital when it comes to criminal investigations, as they are often a source of evidence. When the data from a computer, device, or related systems is researched, retrieved, and analyzed for information that is used as evidence, it is called computer forensics. Because computers are such an important component in many businesses and in society in general, computer forensics has quickly become an in-demand STEM-oriented career option. The individual who performs computer forensics is generally called a forensic computer analyst, and they must possess certain skills, including those needed to retrieve data from destroyed devices or deleted files, run analysis software, and properly handle sensitive components such as hard drives. People interested in becoming a forensic computer analyst generally need to obtain a bachelor's degree in forensic computing or computer science. They may also need to obtain a private investigator license depending on where they live, and a forensic computer analyst certification may also be beneficial.

Video Game Programming

The video game industry is a thriving business that attracts users of all ages and interests. As technology advances, it often directly impacts the way that games are made. In addition, as the industry grows, newer and more exciting games are necessary to attract and maintain the interest of players. Because a large number of people who are starting their careers have a history of playing video games, video game programming makes for an attractive STEM-related career choice. Programmers are the people who make video games playable. They do so by creating the code that determines how the game is played and how it looks. Video game programming specialties include being the lead programmer, the artificial intelligence programmer, the graphics engine programmer, physics programmer, tools programmer, or user interface programmer. Generally, they must have a bachelor's degree in computer science, video game development, or computer engineering. While there is a range of skills that video programmers should know depending on their specialty, most should have strong math skills and a proficiency in programming languages including video game-related computer languages and C or C++.

Other STEM Careers and Skills

There are a wide range of STEM-related jobs that people can enter in addition to computer forensics and video game programming. Many of them are popular options or are expected to grow faster than average over the next several years. These jobs include careers as a computer systems analyst, mathematician, actuary, IT manager, or psychologist. In general, most STEM careers require analytical, technical, mathematics, and science skills. People must also display attention to detail and the ability to work and communicate with others who may be working alongside them. Individuals who are interested in pursuing STEM careers can conduct further research online or speak with their counselors at the university or college that they attend or at their high school.