Technical knowhow is becoming increasingly important for workers in all job areas and industries in the US job.  A recent survey by Deloitte found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.

According to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article by Ben Casselman, “Replacing them has been a challenge for a number of reasons: an erosion of vocational education at the high-school level, a reduction of in-house training through companies and unions, a now-vanished construction boom that once gave people well-paying jobs without the need for much training, among other things.”

The acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has arisen to help individuals, corporations and educators navigate the competencies required in modern technical jobs. The Department of Labor lists 97 job occupations in the STEM category, meaning that STEM-based competencies make up the majority of the job’s requirements.  Over the last ten years, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs and they are projected to double the growth expectations of non-STEM jobs for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps more importantly, non-STEM jobs are showing preference to workers with STEM skills.  Recent studies show that approximately 77% of jobs by 2020 will require STEM skills as part of the job function.  Additional studies and reports, such as a recently released study by Georgetown University suggest that nearly all occupations in the future will require STEM skills.

For workers in transition, gaining STEM skills is critical to establishing a new career, creating new opportunities and for remaining competitive. Below are a number of job areas with growth projections and current openings that could be filled with similar prior experience plus relevant STEM skills.

Specifically, Leadership positions in technical industries are a tremendous target of opportunity for skilled managers with strong STEM skills.  Typically, the best technicians do not make the best supervisors.  While good supervisors do not need to be as proficient as the top technicians they manage, those supervisors do need to understand the work, the environment, the risks, and often the science of technical jobs.

Likewise, skilled sales professionals are needed in technical fields, but to be effective, sales professionals need to have a higher grasp of STEM knowledge sets, systems, technologies and concepts to effectively close the sale.  Transitioning from sales in an industry on the decline (such as for-profit education which is now highly regulated) to a hot industry like energy, information technology or biotechnology can happen in much shorter duration than enrollment in a traditional vocational or college system.

A final area to target for job transitioners is the information technology and systems that are increasingly taking over non-STEM tasks and occupations.  Learning to install, manage and maintain these systems, both the hardware and the software and data it maintains can open new doors of opportunity and stability for professionals who already understand the business.  Adding new skills in analytics, lean processes and system analysis allows individuals with deep knowledge in non-STEM areas to shift into growing consultative and business analytics fields.

Effective STEM programs are designed to enhance skills across the STEM spectrum to assist professionals in transitioning from non-technical to high-growth technical jobs and opportunities not only in energy and environmental fields, but all industries.

Vocational Diploma / Certificate Required
First-line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers
Directly supervise and coordinate the activities of production and operating workers, such as inspectors, precision workers, machine setters and operators, assemblers, fabricators, and plant and system operators. Excludes team or work leaders.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 87,900/Median Wage:  $53,090/Experience: 1 to 5 years leadership

Geospatial Technicians
Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers setup and maintain devices or equipment that carry communications signals, connect to telephone lines, or access the Internet.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 59,300/Median Wage:  $54,710/Experience: None

Database / Business Software Administrator
Demand for database / business software administrators has been fueled recently by the growth in cloud computing. Many businesses are storing their data and applications on networks via the Internet instead of investing in servers and other infrastructure, and they are turning to database administrators to help manage their assets and keep them secure. As a database administrator, you identify the most effective ways to store a company’s data, keep it safe and troubleshoot when problems crop up, and manage user access and data workflow.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 120,000/Median Wage:  $86,000/Experience: none, may require industry certification

Associates Degree or Beyond
Operations Managers
Plan, direct, or coordinate the operations of public or private sector organizations. Duties and responsibilities include formulating policies, managing daily operations, and planning the use of materials and human resources, but are too diverse and general in nature to be classified in any one functional area of management or administration, such as personnel, purchasing, or administrative services. Excludes First-Line Supervisors.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 410,000/Median Wage:  $94,400/Experience: 1-5 years in technical field

Construction Managers
Plan, direct, or coordinate, usually through subordinate supervisory personnel, activities concerned with the construction and maintenance of structures, facilities, and systems. Participate in the conceptual development of a construction project and oversee its organization, scheduling, budgeting, and implementation. Includes managers in specialized construction fields, such as carpentry or plumbing.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 120,400/ Median Wage:  $83,860/Experience: 5+ years in management

Wholesale, Manufacturing Sales
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 288,900/Median Wage:  $56,620/Experience: none

Bachelors Degree
Sales Managers
Sales managers direct organizations’ sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for the organization’s sales representatives.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 139,700/Median Wage:  $98,530/Experience: 1-5 years in Sales

Management Analysts
Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues. Management analysts also conduct organizational studies and evaluations, design systems and procedures, conduct work simplification and measurement studies, and prepare operations and procedures manuals to assist management in operating more efficiently and effectively. Includes program analysts and management consultants.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 274,300/Median Wage:  $78,160/Experience: 1-5 years in leadership

Software Developers, Systems Software
Research, design, develop, and test operating systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software for medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing applications. Set operational specifications and formulate and analyze software requirements. May design embedded systems software. Apply principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis.

New Jobs 2010-2020: 168,000/Median Wage:  $94,180/Experience: none required