How Much More Will a STEM Degree Earn You?


Which cities offer the biggest salary advantages for those with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees? According to a new analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Bloomberg, San Jose, CA, tops the list, with STEM-trained workers earning roughly $60,000 more on average per year than their non-STEM counterparts.

Other cities that topped the list included:

  • Huntsville, AL
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC

In every case, those with STEM degrees could expect to earn anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 more than those without those credentials.

San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC are major hubs for technology companies and startups; Huntsville, AL attracts hundreds of engineers who work at NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other local outposts of major aerospace and manufacturing firms. So it’s no surprise that employers in those cities are paying top dollar for the most qualified talent.

Although the monetary benefits of a STEM degree are clear, tech firms (and others) have complained for the past several years that the nation’s education system graduates far too few students sufficiently trained in science and math. In mid-2014, for instance, U.S. News and Raytheon issued a report suggesting that the number of those with STEM degrees had barely budged over the past 15 years.

Earlier this year, a report from the Brookings Institution likewise suggested that a lack of education had led to the United States falling behind other nations with regard to the percentage of population working in advanced industries: “The U.S. education system graduates too few college students in STEM fields and does too little to adequately prepare children in mathematical and scientific concepts.”

But not every report blames a lack of STEM workers on the education system. According to data released last summer by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly three-quarters of those with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline don’t actually work in a STEM job.

For those with the training, however, it seems the opportunities are more lucrative than ever—especially in some of the nation’s up-and-coming tech hubs.

11 Responses to “How Much More Will a STEM Degree Earn You?”

  1. According to the article, “nearly three-quarters of those with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline don’t actually work in a STEM job”. Are the salaries of these people being counted? I would say probably not. This means we don’t have a shortage of STEM workers. We have a shortage of STEM jobs due to massive outsourcing, H-1B visas, and the like. Just another deceptive article that fails to address the real problem.

  2. CJM, you hit it right on the head. For example, Blue Cross in Mississippi has replaced many of their American IT professionals with Indians. Many U.S. citizens are being interviewed by Indians for American IT jobs and are being told they are not qualified. As you’ve stated, the real problem is much bigger and more political.

  3. PhysicsMajor

    This article seems quite deceptive. With a BS in Physics and Computer Science couples with a MS in Engineering barely being able to earn $50k and despite the education being unable to find anything in a STEM field that even approaches what is being suggested. The only degrees that seem to be earning significantly more than others are business degrees. The major companies mentioned in this article are typically looking for someone with direct experience in their industry, which is extremely hard to obtain in the US since most companies in those industries also don’t want people without direct experience. There are very few actual entry level STEM (non-IT) listings that I have been able to find. Many listed as entry level are actually looking for someone with several years of experience to even be considered. There are many STEM graduates that are completely unable to find a STEM job since they are not available without 5-10+ years of experience in the exact industry with no way to get that experience.

  4. Thank you to the previous commenters. I have multiple graduate STEM degrees, including a Ph.D., including another that is less than 1 year old. I have sent out over 160 applications and have not landed one job. One Indian supervisor told me I was overqualified, and proceeded to hire a less qualified foreigner.

    The question for my fellow Americans is if you are willing for this country to commit suicide. As far as I know, there is only one candidate willing to seal the border and to control H1-B visas. He has my support.

  5. Unemployed STEM

    I live in San Jose which according to this article is ground central for this “STEM skills shortage”. I am an unemployed scientist – the S in STEM. When I have asked employers about the job market its clear there are still MANY qualified candidates for each position. Just today I spoke with a recruiter for an architectural engineering firm here in San Jose (engineering, the E in STEM). Same story – lots of applicants, overly picky employers looking for a bargain.

    The “skills shortage” is not a lack of STEM workers, its a lack of willingness of employers to train workers to the job. Its “Plug and Play” or go away. Don’t believe me? Go visit a job fair. I did. I saw hundreds of STEM job seekers waiting in line for hours for the chance to speak to recruiters. Its depressing.

    There are some success stories but a STEM degree is not whatsoever the guarantee this article promises it to be.

  6. Mark Dixson

    Why does dice continue to put out mis-leading articles like this. I hold a Masters Degre in Computer Science degree and still can’t find an Application developer job. Applied at Chase and could barely understand what the Indian interview what saying. I want to write an article for dice and tell them about the real world.

  7. I have my B.S. and M.S. in the “M” of STEM. I live in Silicon Valley. I have grown weary of these clickbait titled articles circulating on linked in, dice, etc. “How can I woo my interviewer?” “10 Habits that Everybody and their Successful Grandma Needs” “The Jam that Successful People Use on their Toast!”

    All of the (very few) ‘entry level’ job postings that I have seen have gone something like this:
    Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, math, or a related field
    Excellent analytical skills
    3-5 years of experience
    (Let’s just add on “Must be a 2x Nobel Laureate and cure cancer. Must also prepare us for the zombie apocalypse.” to round of this list.)

    This article only reiterates this ‘fact’ that every college graduate–STEM or not— has been surrounded with for the past decade at least. At this point, it is hard to accept this as fact, and not myth. It does not address the reality of a now-bloated applicant pool. Welcome to the new-age Gold Rush.

  8. Unemployed STEM

    Why does dice continue to put out mis-leading articles like this.

    Posted directly from the DICE homepage:

    “Hire the best in tech
    Put millions of qualified tech candidates at your fingertips.”

    “Are you an employer?
    Post your tech job in less than 5 minutes to reach thousands of candidates.”

    “Job Postings

    30-day postings
    Post a job in minutes
    Buy more and save

    $419 or less”

    “Hiring Campaigns

    60-day postings
    5,000 ad impressions
    Email 1,500 candidates

    “Recruitment Packages

    Reusable postings
    1.5 million tech résumés
    Millions of Open Web social profiles”

    Dice’s business is having employers pay them to find qualified candidates. Screaming STEM TALENT SHORTAGE!!! generates more job seekers who become increasingly desperate to accept whatever Dice’s clients are offering. If Dice were to admit there is no talent shortage their clients might realize they could find their own talent without Dice’s help.

    I want to write an article for dice and tell them about the real world.

    Please do! I’ll be very interested to see if it actually gets published by Dice.

    (Let’s just add on “Must be a 2x Nobel Laureate and cure cancer. Must also prepare us for the zombie apocalypse.” to round of this list.)

    Ah the unspoken qualifications. Every posting has them.

  9. By most of the posts here you can tell that people aren’t reading the article fully just scanning and hand picking facts/opinions. This article starts with the sentence “Which cities offer the biggest salary advantages for those with STEM”. So this article is saying that you can expect higher salaries, and available jobs in high demand areas. If you do not live in a high demand area, this article doesn’t pertain to you. I’m thinking that your lack of attention to details coupled with your negative attitude might help to explain your inability to find a good paying job.