Five Careers in STEM that Range from a Certificate to a Doctorate

There are many career opportunities that exist within the realm of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). One of the most common misconceptions about these career paths is that they require years in the classroom, highly advanced degrees, and a great amount of student debt. It doesn't have to be this way! We have listed five STEM careers that range from a certificate to a doctorate. The best part is, many of them reside in the fastest growing job markets in the world and have excellent entry level pay. In fact, economic forecasts project a demand for more than one million additional professionals with a degree in STEM by 2018!

Check out these incredible careers that exist at all levels of STEM higher education!

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Research the effects of substances, like drugs, hormones, and food on tissues and biological processes. Use cutting edge technology, like lasers, to conduct experiments.

  • Median annual wage: (2013): $84,320/$40.54/hour
  • Degree required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Work experience: None

How to Become One: Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development positions. However, bachelor's and master's degree holders are qualified for some entry-level positions.

Aerospace Engineer or Operations Technicians

Help assemble aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Work to prevent the failure of key parts of new aircraft, spacecraft, or missiles.

  • Median annual wage: (2013): $62,680/$30.14/hour
  • Degree required: Associate's degree
  • Work experience: None

How to Become One: Earn a certificate or diploma from a vocational or technical school. With advances in technology, employers are beginning to prefer associate's degree.

Web Developers

Design and create websites. They are responsible for the look and (sometimes) content of the site. They are also responsible for the site's technical aspects, such as performance and capacity.

  • Median annual wage: (2013): $63,160/$30.37/hour
  • Degree required: Associate's degree
  • Work experience: None

How to Become One: The typical education needed to become a web developer is an associate's degree in web design or related field. Web developers need knowledge of both programming and graphic design.


Study the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact. Theoretical astronomers may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. Astronomers in applied fields may develop new military technologies or monitor space debris that could endanger satellites.

  • Median annual wage: (2013): $110,450/$53.10/hour
  • Degree Required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Work experience: None

How to Become One: Astronomers need a Ph.D. for most research jobs. Many astronomy Ph.D. holders typically begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from a small connection between two offices to a multinational series of globally distributed communications systems.

  • Median annual wage: $95,380/$45.85
  • Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
  • Work Experience: 5 years or more

How to Become One: Most computer network architects have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. They usually need experience in a related occupation also.

Tell us your favorite STEM career in the comments below!

The occupational information above was retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website on April 14, 2014 - April 15,2014.

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About the Author

Simone Stewart
SSEC Human Resources Assistant

Simone initiates, processes, and monitors personnel actions through HRMS systems; ensures accurate information is reported and kept; and provides information to facilitate personnel management activities. Simone has assisted in the addition of 13 new employees and recruited 8 summer interns.