STEM Career Options for People Without a Degree
Many of the traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers require at least an associate's or bachelor's degree, but there are a few job possibilities across these fields for people without a degree. These careers may need additional or on-the-job training beyond a high school diploma, but they do not necessarily require a postsecondary degree. Below are a few of the possible STEM jobs for those without a degree.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers||$55,920||-4% (decline)|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||$25,250||9%|
|Computer Support Specialists||$52,160||12%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Career Information for STEM Jobs for People Without a Degree
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
For those who do not have a degree, but are interested in engineering and repairing various pieces of equipment or technology, electrical and electronics installation or repair may be a good career choice. These workers are needed in multiple industries, such as telecommunications and transportation, to install and/or repair things like motors, navigation systems, electric wiring and more. They may specialize in different areas, including transportation equipment, electric motors, commercial and industrial electronics and more. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers must estimate the cost of their work, perform the proper actions, test their work and maintain accurate billing records. They usually need to take at least a few specialized courses from a technical college before beginning to work. Some may need to pursue certification.
Pharmacy technicians combine science, math and medicine as they help dispense an array of prescription medications. They are supervised by pharmacists as they collect the needed information from health professionals to measure and package medications for the customer. They also organize the pharmacy, take payments from customers, help maintain customer information on a computer system and answer the phones. Any technical questions that a customer may have about a medication are directed to the pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians need at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and then learn on-the-job. However, postsecondary programs in the field do exist. Depending on the state, technicians may need to pass an exam or complete a training program.
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers
Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers also work in the field of science to help care for animals in laboratories or clinics. They help feed, bathe and exercise the animals as needed, as well as working with veterinarians or scientists to provide basic medical care. They help restrain animals during exams and may help prepare the animal or observe the animal after surgery. They may also take biological samples and help clean and maintain laboratory equipment used for clinical tests. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn on-the-job.
Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists may focus their work in network support or user support. Depending on the position and employer, some computer support specialists may need a bachelor's degree, but others may only require some postsecondary courses and/or experience in the field. It is more common for network support positions to require a degree than it is for user support positions. Those who focus on network support work to evaluate and help maintain an organization's network system. This often involves troubleshooting problems and ensuring that all information is backed-up and not lost. Those who specialize in user support work directly with customers to help guide them through fixing their computer issues. They may have working knowledge in hardware, software, computer accessories and more.
Similar to some engineering jobs, machinists use computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files to create precision parts. They may make metal parts, tools or instruments in machines using the designs. After a piece has been drilled and shaped, machinists will examine and test for any defects and make sure it meets all specifications. Customers may ask for adjustments to be made, and machinists are also qualified to repair pieces if needed. Most machinists have a high school diploma and train on-the-job or through an apprenticeship program. Vocational and technical schools also provide training programs in the field.