There are a tremendous number of jobs out there that pay solid salaries, don’t require a college degree and are in high demand. These are jobs in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
In research for his new report, The Hidden STEM Economy, Jonathan Rothwell, a senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution, found that one out of every 10 jobs in this country is a STEM job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. In 2011 the average salary for these positions was $53,000.
While most of these STEM jobs do require some training or education, community colleges and companies across the country are setting up programs and courses to train people to fill the rising demand. An estimated 12 percent of all online-advertised job openings in average metropolitan areas is for STEM jobs that don’t require bachelor’s degrees, and in some areas the percentage is even higher.
So what exactly are these jobs? They can be anything from an industrial machinery mechanic to an electrician or a machine programmer to a welder. Production worker supervisors, pipefitters, welders and carpenters also fit into this category. As do sheet metal workers. Many STEM jobs, especially in high tech regions like the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston and Austin, Texas, may be more advanced, dealing with various aspects of the biotech industry, for example.
And how does one learn how to do them? Because of increasing demand and pressure from industries that need more and more skilled workers each year, community colleges across the country have set up STEM courses and programs. Many of these programs are supported by companies and serve as training grounds for jobs in those companies, which hire many of the graduates.
For example, Delaware Community College outside of Philadelphia has a $60 million Stem Complex with 12 laboratories used to train students in a variety of fields through local industry partnerships. It offers an extensive array of programs, some leading to an AA degree and others to a certificate, which can be completed in a year or less but still provides enough training for many jobs.
Among DCC’s offerings are associate degree programs in automatic manufacturing/robotics technology, construction management technology, energy technology and machine tool technology. Certificate programs include computer aided drafting, industrial production technician, machining operations and lathe and mill CNC programming.
Solano Community College, with campuses in Fairfield, Vallejo and Vacaville north of San Francisco, offers an industrial biotechnology program that prepares students to work as production technicians dealing with pharmaceutical products in the biotech industry.
The program includes an associate’s degree and a certificate program, as well as the IBIS (Industrial Biotechnology Intensive Sumer Boot Camp), which condenses the year-long certificate program into two months. The program feeds graduates to such Bay Area biotech companies as Genentech, Novartis and Bayer.
These are just two examples, but there are others elsewhere. Here are links to some of them:
Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Wash.
Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, Penn
Inver Hills Community College, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Roxbury Community College, Boston, Mass.
Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, Md.
To find a STEM program at a community college near you, contact your local One-Stop Career Center.