Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics


What do occupations in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career cluster have in common? Workers in these careers use scientific, technological, engineering, and/or mathematical processes to do research and solve problems. The problems they approach are as different as reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, developing medicines to treat mental illness, and estimating the economic impact of government policy changes. Their career focus can be as small as a nanoparticle or as large as the universe.

Work settings vary with the topic of STEM research. While some jobs take place in front of a computer or in a laboratory, others require people to work in outdoor environments. Schedules also depend on the focus of STEM workers’ research. Some individuals have very regular hours, but others’ schedules depend upon availability of the subject they analyze. Employers who are likely to hire STEM qualified workers include engineering companies; the federal, state, and local government; scientific research companies; colleges and universities; and drug manufacturers.

Work settings vary with the topic of STEM research. While some jobs take place in front of a computer or in a laboratory, others require people to work in outdoor environments. Schedules also depend on the focus of STEM workers’ research. Some individuals have very regular hours, but others’ schedules depend upon availability of the subject they analyze. Employers who are likely to hire STEM qualified workers include engineering companies; the federal, state, and local government; scientific research companies; colleges and universities; and drug manufacturers.

  • Mechanical Engineers – Bachelor’s degree
  • Industrial Engineers – Bachelor’s degree
  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists – Bachelor’s degree
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers – Bachelor’s degree
  • Electrical Engineers – Bachelor’s degree
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Core Skills

The following Core Skills are necessary for success in these occupations.

  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems
  • Programming - Writing computer programs
  • Technology Design - Making equipment and technology useful for customers
  • Operations Analysis - Figuring out what a product or service needs to be able to do
  • Mathematics - Using math to solve problems
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
  • Systems Evaluation - Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
  • Management of Financial Resources - Making spending decisions and keeping track of what is spent


Career Pathways



Career Story

Syreeta Lynn

Durham Technical Community College

A.A.S., Clinical Trials Research Associate

"Durham Tech gave me the clinical research foundation that I needed to hit the ground running."

Prior to enrolling in the Clinical Trials Research Associate program at Durham Technical Community College, Syreeta Lynn worked in an entry-level call center position at a pharmaceutical research organization. Just two weeks on the job, the supervisor recognized her potential and offered her a promotion as an In-House Clinical Research Associate.

“It was unheard of for someone with only a high school diploma to be offered that position,” Lynn said. “I started doing the work, and I absolutely loved it.”

As soon as Lynn started the new position, she began looking for educational opportunities to advance in the industry. She chose Durham Tech because it was the only school in the area that had a two-year program for clinical trials.

“Durham Tech gave me the clinical research foundation that I needed to hit the ground running,” Lynn said. “The Clinical Trials program was a life-changer. Though I was in the industry before I came to Durham Tech, I wouldn’t have been able to sustain a career in the industry without this degree.”

While at Durham Tech, an internship with PharmaLinkFHI (now Novella Clinical) led to an offer for permanent, full-time employment.

“You must have a willingness and a capability to learn to succeed,” Lynn says of her advice to future students. “You can’t be willing, but not be capable or be capable, but not be willing–you must have both.”

“Without this degree, my life would be a struggle,” Lynn states. “Durham Tech is a hidden treasure and the Clinical Trials program has totally changed my life. For those reasons, I will always be indebted to Durham Tech.”

Go to Career Cluster Matrix to find occupations by cluster and interest type.