OUT NOW: Your Future in Healthcare 2024!

    Lesser-Known STEM Careers

    Posted by Larry Griffin

    You may be considering your options for careers in STEM, and the field is larger than you’re likely imagining. Beyond the standard jobs in tech, working at the big name-brand companies, or developing apps in Silicon Valley, there are innumerable possibilities as to what you could do with a STEM degree once you’re done with school. Many of them can take you places you might not have gone otherwise, while others are perfectly suited for those with specific passions they’re looking to follow.

    STEM ultimately incorporates many facets of how the world keeps moving forward. One of them is the detection and treatment of diseases. You could become a gene therapist. According to an article by Twig Education, gene therapy involves replacing a defective mutant allele with a functional one, which could eventually be developed into a way to fight diseases, like cancer and AIDS. One recent case saw a French sickle-cell patient cured of his disease when scientists figured out how to alter the genetics in his bone marrow to start producing healthy red-blood cells.

    It’s not all about working in the cold recesses of a lab, though. Maybe you want to work outdoors. In that case, consider taking a job as an aquarist, specializing in caring for marine life and preservation. That could involve taking care of endangered sea creatures in captivity or working on training sea creatures for various shows for the public. You’ll need a degree in marine biology or zoology, as well as a scuba-diving certification, according to an article from Twig Education.

    Those seeking a little more danger could take a job as a volcanologist. The job involves studying ash and rock samples, simulating explosions in a controlled environment and listening to the noises of active volcanoes — and there can be plenty of travel to exotic locales. Those wanting to take on such a job need to study geology, geophysics, geochemistry and things like oceanography and meteorology to have a more comprehensive knowledge.

    Maybe you want to work in some kind of entertainment field. STEM has your back there, too —  you could always seek a job as a pyrotechnic engineer for live events. Working with firework displays requires an in-depth knowledge of chemistry, physics and mathematics, and you can then use the skills to put on highly technical and vibrant displays for live concerts or parades at the holidays or any number of other such events.

    If you’re looking for another thrill-seeking gig, you could become a roller-coaster engineer. Per a piece from Study International, roller-coaster engineers incorporate studies of mechanical engineering, design and just pure creativity in order to create inventive new rides that bring joy to those who seek that kind of a thrill. It requires getting a degree in mechanical or structural engineering, but the care that goes into designing something inventive, as well as accounting for safety and accessibility, can stretch your creative muscles.

    If that’s not your thing, you could go for a career in sound engineering for movies and TV, live music or theater. Arming yourself with a knowledge of how to work the technical equipment and record, mix, amplify and edit sound can help you keep entertainment going for any number of creative projects for others.

    Or your skills could go toward beautifying people. Look into becoming a fragrance chemist —  by studying odor molecules, you’ll learn how to make scents, which can be used for perfumes, soaps, lotions and other things used daily and often not thought of in a scientific manner. Most fragrance chemists, according to a TwigEducation piece, have degrees in chemistry or biochemistry, often high-level ones like PhDs. To that end, you can also become a cosmetic scientist, using chemistry to concoct the creams and balms that we use daily for better skin and hair.

    Many of these jobs are focused on contributing something concrete to the world. It comes from a curiosity for life and how to advance whatever causes you’re working on. If that description fits you, you could take classes incorporating human-centered design. The principle of the discipline is to make sure technology accommodates human needs — to work with whatever systems you’re using to make them as easy as possible to use.

    No matter what kind of technology you’re using or what work you’re doing, it needs to be easy for people to use. An introduction from the Interaction Design Foundation lists the way computers evolved to prompt you to save your work as one example. Early computers wouldn’t prompt users to save their work at all before turning the computer off. Then that evolved into a pop-up box asking if you wanted to save, and now, modern computers auto-save. whether you prompt them to or not. That’s an example of human-centered design — technology evolving based on what makes peoples’ work easier.

    Numerous schools offer programs for human-centered design. As stated in a piece by Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington), which is now offering a concentration in the field, human-centered design is a broad set of tools. It can be paired with other fields of study and used to tackle problems as varied as climate change and accessibility for those with different needs in the digital world, according to Michelle Janning, the Raymond and Elsie DeBurgh Chair of Social Sciences and professor of sociology, as quoted by Whitman College.

    With persistence and passion, you are sure to find a career in STEM that can keep you engaged and fulfilled.

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    Larry Griffin