The best career choice

A teacher wrote to me: “According to your blog, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) have a lot of job opportunities but why students do not enroll in these fields? How can I encourage my students to study STEM fields? Which one has the highest demand?”

Answer: “There are misconceptions about STEM fields among college students. Many believe these fields are very difficult, only the best students could study them. The fact is STEM fields are very broad with hundreds of subjects; some may be difficult but most are not. A typical science field covers areas such as biology, chemistry, geology, physics, medical and health etc. A technology field includes space technology, industry technology, information technology, medical technology etc… Engineering field is much broader with many areas from computer science, software engineering to electronic engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering and many others. The mathematics field also has several specialties such as actuarial science, applied mathematics, and statistics etc. An education in any of these STEM fields opens opportunities in almost every industry from manufacturing to electronics, from finance, medical to construction, and information technology etc.

According to industry report, Information Technology (Computer science, Software engineering, Information System Management etc.) has the highest demand among all STEM fields. In the past two years, enrollment in IT programs has risen and almost doubles as compare with few years ago due to the shortage of IT skilled workers and more jobs from industry. All over the world, companies are looking for IT skilled workers, because everyone needs software and developers to build it. Even companies that are not in technology areas are trying to catch-up as IT is becoming the key factor to improve efficiency and performance. It is obvious that IT is the best choice for college students as computer science and software engineering knowledge are more valuable today than ever before.

However despite the high enrollment in IT programs, many companies are finding it is still difficult to find skilled IT workers because technology changes too fast and most university's trainings cannot keep up with the rapidly changing technology. Therefore companies begin to only select graduates from top universities who have the most up to date training programs, who can pass their rigorous technical interview process. An executive explains: “Today an IT degree does not guarantee that graduates are capable of doing the needed works. Technology changes so fast that most universities cannot keep up, thus students who want to develop a good technical careers should seek out schools that have the best training programs rather than any school because they will be tested about their knowledge and skills in our interview process. There is no reason to pay someone top salary then finds out that their skills are obsolete.”

What makes IT careers so dynamic is that they revolve around innovation. There are constantly new technology to come, new skills to learn and new challenges to overcome, whether it is new product development in software industry or solving problems in manufacturing industry. Not only do these challenges require technical knowledge, they also need creative thinking. Today IT careers are about improving everything with technology. For example, people still think software engineering is all about coding and testing but in reality software is constantly evolving with new innovative new approaches.

Today many students go to university but have no idea about career planning and what jobs will be available by the time they graduate. As teacher, you need to help them develop a broader view about career and knowing which kinds of jobs will be plentiful over the next few years. According to a global study, STEM fields will represent more than two third of the 30 million new jobs to be created in the next ten years and more than 34 million additional job openings will be available to replace older workers who retire during that time. And seven of the ten top occupations expected to have the largest number of openings are in STEM fields.

Among them, Information technology and Healthcare are at the top but IT is the only occupation that creates high value economic growth. The correlation between economic growth and an IT workforce is so strong, an executive declared: “Information technology will drive all future economic growth in the next ten years”. If students starting college this year and select IT field, they will have 98.3% of getting an excellent career that will last a long time.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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