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Careers in STEM

The Value of a STEM Degree

Pursuing a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) will open a world of career paths to you, while closing very few doors. A STEM degree is your opportunity to be a part of the major technological breakthroughs and revolutions of our time. Your training will also be invaluable in the business world, where survival often depends on the capability to innovate within a rapidly-changing technological landscape. With the critical skills and fundamental understanding which STEM training provides, you will be highly sought after in whatever career you choose.

Science Career Pathways

General Science

Any science degree will train you in valuable skills of analytical and critical thinking, problem solving, statistics and IT skills. Besides expertise in your chosen field, it will endow you with transferable-skills which may give you an edge over other candidates when looking for positions in the financial sector, technology consultancy, management, journalism, business, patent law, politics and art.

Your job title: Science communicator, science teacher at high school, university lecturer, scientific artist, science writer, graphic designer, infographics creator, government science advisor, patent officer, research commercialisation consultant, management, technical specialist/consultant with a service company, academic research scientist, industrial research scientist, sales and marketing representative, journalist, fact checker for media companies and government agencies, entrepreneur, director of a start-up company, artist etc.


Image via Hubble ESA on Flickr.

Image via Hubble ESA on Flickr.

Physicists are interested in the BIG questions: What is the universe? How did it come into existence? How is it evolving? What are the building blocks of matter? What are the forces binding it together? All employers value the skills that physics develops: an ability to grasp things quickly, a determination to find coherent answers, along with problem-solving, analytical skills, IT skills and very strong mathematical skills.

Your job title: Aerospace engineer, astronomer, computer systems analyst, cost estimator, financial analyst, financial examiner, hydrologist, logistician, market research analyst, software developer, statistician, medical physicist, bioengineer, nuclear medicine technician, radiotherapy technician, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging , photonics for global communication, nanotechnology researcher, astrophysicist, computer scientist, game engine designer, business analyst, coastal scientist, acoustics designer for concert halls and cathedrals, space scientist etc.

Major employers: Financial consultancy firms, medical research companies, urban planning organisations, software developers, computer games designers, film studios, start-up companies, communications companies etc.


Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Chemisty is known as the ‘practical science’. As a chemist you will learn how to transform everyday materials into amazing things. Some chemists work on cures for cancer while others monitor the ozone protecting us from the sun. Others discover new materials for insulating our homes in winter or new textiles with amazing strength or waterproof properties. They may study the origin of our senses of taste, smell and vision. They may work in the cosmetic industry developing formulations for keeping our hair or skin healthy. They can extract useful compounds from rare plants, and then discover the principles behind what makes the compound so effective. They can work in water purification or solar energy. If you have to choose one scientist to take with you to a desert island, make them a chemist!

Your job title: Agricultural Chemist, biochemist, biotechnologist, chemical engineer, chemical Information specialist, chemical Sales, nanotechnologist, consultant, consumer product development, environmental chemist, food and flavour chemist, cosmetic scientist, forensic chemist, geochemist, hazardous waste manager, medicinal chemist, pharmacist, petroleum engineer, textile chemist, atmospheric chemist, patent agent, nutritional chemist.

Major Employers: Cosmetic companies, food companies, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, the plastics industry, the petroleum industry, medical research foundations, almost any manufacturer which turns raw materials into useful products such as textiles, tyres, paints, adhesives, shampoos, perfumes, water supply manager etc.


Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Biologists are interested in living things, including how they work and how they can be kept healthy. They study the vast diversity of nature, develop cures for diseases and work on conserving the natural world for future generations. Biologists apply scientific principles to develop and enhance products, tools, and technological advances in fields such as agriculture, food science, and medicine. Nature contains the most complex and fascinating machines known, and many of the phenomena and behaviour of biological systems are still not understood. This attracts other scientists, such as physicists and chemists, to pursue biological research after their primary degree. Biology is a rapidly evolving science and biologists are true explorers on the frontier of knowledge.

Your job title: Conservationist, biotechnologist, zoologist, forensic scientist, zookeeper, David Attenborough, epidemiologist, botanist, designer of public health campaigns, evolutionary anthropologist, genetic engineer, food scientist, medical research, drug R&D, tissue engineering, computational biologist, ecologist etc.

Major Employers: Zoo and aquariums, state/federal natural resource agencies, Pharmaceutical companies, fisheries and agriculture, not-for-profit conservation organizations, private ecological consulting firms, wildlife rehabilitation centers, police forensic departments, parks and nature centres etc.

Engineering Career Pathways

As an engineer you will learn apply your understanding of science and technology to make a difference in the real world. If you want to design and create products which will improve people’s lives, engineering is for you.

Civil and Structural Engineering

VIctoria Falls Bridge. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

VIctoria Falls Bridge. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As a civil or structural engineer you will design, construct and maintain the physical and naturally-built environment, including roads, bridges, canals, dams and skyscrapers.

Your job title: Geotechnical engineer, earthquake engineer, structural engineer, surveyor, construction engineer, transport engineer etc.

Major employers: government department or agency, municipal authority, civil engineering contractor or mining companies, charity organisations etc.

Software engineering

As a software engineer you will design, develop, test, deploy, maintain and evaluate software and systems that make computers work.

Your job title: Computer game designer, roboticist, epidemiologist, simulation modeller, visual artist, cryptologist, economic modeller, cyber-security engineer, big data cruncher.

Your job title: Any major technology company, IT security companies, software developers, computer game developers, defence agencies etc.

Electrical/Electronic Engineering

Image via Wikimedia Commons

As an Electrical or Electronic Engineer you will design and test electronic devices, circuits and systems, and control the generation and transmission of information and electric power.

Your job title: Communications engineer, aerospace engineer, computer scientist, inventor, biomedical engineer, meteorological engineer, sustainable energy engineer, technological consultant, researcher of defence technology.

Major employers: Any major technology company, manufacturer or research centre, renewable energy companies, communication companies etc.

Environmental engineering

As an environmental engineer you will apply your understanding of natural systems to find creative solutions to pressures facing our environment (such as population growth, development and climate change).

Your job title: Sustainable energy engineer, meteorological engineer, process engineer, land use planner, environmental project manager, urban planner, consultant etc.

Major employers: Public and private sectors including regulatory authorities, mining and construction companies, consultancies and government agencies etc.

Chemical Engineering

Image via Adam Fagen on Flickr.

Image via Adam Fagen on Flickr.

As a chemical engineer you will design the methods and equipment that are used in the transformation of basic, raw materials into useful products.

Your job title: Fermentation engineer (e.g. brewery, winery), food scientist, mining engineer (gas and mineral processing), biotechnologist, biomedical engineer etc.

Major employers: manufacturers of metal products, industrial chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, minerals industry, petroleum refiners, government and state authorities concerned with gas, electricity, water supply and environmental protection.

Mechanical engineering

As a mechanical engineer you will design and oversee the development, installation, operation and maintenance of machinery, solve practical engineering problems and improve efficiency.

Your job title: Machinist, process engineer, inventor, logistician, aerospace engineer, construction engineer, product designer, product developer, machinery consultant, roboticist.

Major employers: Transport companies, the manufacturing industry, the mining industry, the automotive industry, construction industry, electrical companies etc.

Maths Career Pathways

Mandelbrot Set. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As a mathematician you will be endowed with skills valuable in almost every industry. Mathematicians are fundamental problem solvers. They can build models to help explain and predict the behaviour of financial markets. They can use mathematical methods to discover the optimal decisions to maximize profits or minimize costs. They can develop security systems for ATM cards and computer passwords. They can handle large datasets and extract conclusions on consumer behaviour, be it online search patterns or user demographics.

Your job title: Actuary, systems engineer/systems analyst, computer scientist, operations research, biomathematician, epidemiologist, population geneticist, demographer, metereologist, cryptographer, financial analyst, financial examiner, logistician, market research analyst, software developer, statistician, business analyst etc.

Major employers: Insurance companies, bookmakers, any large multinational company or government, financial service and investment management firms, transportation service providers, communications services providers, chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturers, government labs and research offices, government agencies such as the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), engineering research organizations, computer information and software firms, energy systems firms, electronics and computer manufacturers, consulting firms, aerospace and transportation equipment manufacturers, medical device companies, consumer products companies.