STEM Career Paths and Uniformed Service: 5 Facts You Might Not Know

STEM Career Paths and Uniformed Service: 5 Facts You Might Not Know
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Servicemembers love a good acronym, and STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is no exception. Especially if you’re considering making a career out of it.


Employment in STEM fields is projected to grow 10.5% from 2020 to 2030, according to Department of Labor statistics, and the median annual wage across the fields approached $90,000 in 2020 – more than double the average median wage of $41,950.


MOAA’s upcoming Aug. 24 virtual career fair will spotlight STEM careers and feature military-friendly employers seeking qualified candidates in these fields. Whether you’re a fully-trained expert in one of these areas or curious what it takes to find STEM success, register today and join us to learn more.


Until then, get up to speed with a few STEM details:


1. What Do I Already Know? Your service may prepare you for a civilian STEM career directly – some servicemembers can translate engineering, cyber, or other skills to civilian life with little issue. But other jobs may come with less-direct support, and some training that could seem unrelated may offer benefits as you begin your job search. One good starting point: DoD’s Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL), which links to branch-specific sites detailing how your time in uniform may translate to a desired profession.


2. NSF Support. A 2020 law directed the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create and support a series of programs designed to assist veterans looking for STEM careers. These range from advanced education benefits to cybersecurity programs to support for STEM-related small businesses. Get a breakdown of just some of the programs offered at this link.


[AUG 16 MOAA WEBINAR: Which Engineering Specialty Is the Right Fit For You?


3. Extra GI Bill Cash. The Edith Nourse Rodgers STEM Scholarship allows some veterans and dependents to receive up to nine months (or $30,000) of additional education benefits for pursuing STEM degrees. Learn more about the program at this link.


4. Know Your Education Requirements. Not thinking about a post-secondary degree? While all STEM fields require some job-specific knowledge, the amount of education required varies greatly, especially in entry-level positions. Some two-year programs like Vets2Tech provide qualifications to serve as a jumping-off point for growing careers or future study. Bottom line: Don’t rule out a new position before a deep dive into the education and certification options available.


[RELATED: Find Free Resources for Your Military Transition]


5. About That Acronym … If STEM was in service, it would be eligible for its own retirement – most sources put the birth of the four-letter shortcut at 2001, as part of an NSF report. Earlier NSF materials contained the abbreviation “SMET,” but the at least one staffer thought that abbreviation was “less than desirable.”


Visit MOAA’s Transition and Career Center for additional transition resources, a link to upcoming webinars and events, and much more.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley