STEM jobs are often thought of as high-tech careers, perhaps because they are the jobs of the future. Not all of these positions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will have you wearing a lab coat, however. In fact, these jobs are surprisingly diverse–so diverse that you might think the only thing they have in common is their steady employment rates! In this ranking, we explore the 30 best STEM jobs 2018.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
Median Annual Salary:
- Over $50,000—1 point
- Over $75,000—2 points
- Over $100,000—3 points
- Over $125,000—4 points
Projected Job Growth
- Over 30%–6 points
- Over 25%–5 points
- Over 20%–4 points
- Over 15%–3 points
- Over 10%–2 points
- Over 7% (Faster than Average)—1 point
Recognition in US News and World Report's Ranking of "Best Stem Jobs"
- Top 5—3 points
- Top 10—2 points
- Top 25—1 point
To compile this ranking of the best STEM jobs 2018, our editors evaluated more than 50 jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, consulting data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Specifically, we looked at salary information as well as data regarding job projections to inform the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases of a tie, we consulted the job's median annual wage and afforded the higher-paying job the higher ranking.
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 100
You'll likely just need a bachelor's degree to become a geographer—another of the best STEM jobs 2018. Geographers research the Earth, including its features and its people. Employers will want to know that you're up on the latest technology in the field though, including geographic information systems, or GIS. You can obtain professional certification in GIS through The GIS Certification Institute as well as The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
Median Annual Salary: $76,860
#29 –Biomedical Engineer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 1,500
It's no surprise that the occupation of a biomedical engineer ranks high on our list of best STEM jobs 2018, as it merges the robust STEM industries of healthcare and engineering. Applying skills from both fields, biomedical engineers are responsible for designing and developing tools (including software and computer applications) for the healthcare industry. This is a high-paying career that requires only a bachelor's degree in engineering or bioengineering for entry. A master's degree will make you more competitive for open positions, however, and can also prepare you for future advancement opportunities.
Median Annual Salary: $88,040
#28 –Materials Scientist
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 6,300
Steady growth and a hefty salary make the position of a materials scientist one of the best STEM jobs available. Materials scientists examine the physical properties of manufacturing materials in order to develop new products and improve existing ones. Since businesses are continually looking for higher quality products at lower prices, the demand for materials scientists should remain consistent. Entry-level positions in materials science require only a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related field, but a Ph.D. is required for research positions in the field.
Median Annual Salary: $99,530
#27 –Computer Systems Administrator
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 24,000
A bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, or computer engineering is all you'll need to qualify for one of the best STEM jobs in the computer science field—that of a computer systems administrator. These technical professionals maintain computer networks, install software and hardware, and otherwise maintain daily computer operations for an organization. Jobs for computer systems administrators are growing at a steady pace, thanks to continued reliance on technology in a variety of industries, especially healthcare.
Median Annual Salary: $81,100
#26 –Environmental Engineer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 4,500
Jobs for environmental engineers are on a steady incline, thanks to persistent social concern over environmental issues. Environmental engineers are charged with applying their knowledge of engineering principles to solve problems that plague the environment, and are compensated rather handsomely for doing so. To break into the field, you'll need a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering or a closely related field.
Median Annual Salary: $86,800
#25 –Computer Support Specialist
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 88,500
Interested in quick entry into the ever-expanding field of technology? Then, the title of computer support specialist may just suit you. An associates degree is usually all that is required for entry-level positions in the field, and some employers may even be satisfied with some post-secondary classes. Job prospects are growing faster than average, too, thanks to increased technology across industries, but especially in health care, so you won't likely have much trouble finding an open position. Many computer support specialists take advantage of advancement opportunities and become computer systems administrator or even software developers.
Median Annual Salary: $52,810
#24 –Forensic Science Technician
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 15,400
The role of a forensic science technician is one of the best STEM jobs in terms of future job prospects since the field is currently growing at a faster than average pace. As crime continues to rise, especially in major cities, police officers and detectives will increasingly rely on forensic science technicians to collect and analyze evidence from crime scenes to support their criminal investigations. A bachelor's degree in forensic science, biology, or chemistry should be enough to gain entry into the field, but a master's degree will give you a competitive advantage over other applicants.
Median Annual Salary: $57,850
#23 –Web Developer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 24,400
The occupation of a web developer is one of the best STEM jobs in terms of quick entry. Most positions in the field require only an associate's degree, and jobs for web developers are on the rise, thanks to the explosion of e-commerce. Of course, a bachelor's degree in computer science or programming can secure you a position in the field and will also make you eligible for advancement opportunities, including management positions.
Median Annual Salary: $67,990
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 139,900
The role of an accountant makes the list of best STEM jobs 2018 due in large part to the number of new jobs becoming available by the year 2026. Jobs for public accountants, management accountants, and government accountants are growing faster than average. Often, a bachelor's degree in accounting or related field is sufficient for entry-level positions, though some employers may require a master's degree. Most accountants will also pursue licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Median Annual Salary: $69,350
#21 –Computer Systems Analyst
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 54,400
One of the best STEM jobs in the technology field is that of a computer systems analyst. Bringing in a handsome salary and growing slightly faster than average, these jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer or information science, though some employers prefer a masters in computer science or an MBA in information systems. What do computer systems analysts do? These professionals analyze an organization's technology use and goals and recommend improvement strategies. Qualified applicants may find jobs as software quality assurance analysts or programmer analysts.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 4,500
Geoscientists are crucial to meeting the increasing need for alternative energy and environmental protection solutions, making this one of the best STEM jobs for the future. To put it simply, geoscientists study the Earth's physical features, but if you plan to enter the field, you can expect to specialize in a particular area of geoscience. Types of geoscientists include geologists, geochemists, petroleum geologists, and seismologists, for example. Entry-level jobs in this growing field require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in geoscience, environmental science, or engineering, though a master's degree will make you more attractive to potential employers.
Median Annual Salary: $89,850
#19—Postsecondary Engineering Teacher
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 6,900
Good teachers are in constant demand to train the next generation of engineers, making the job of a postsecondary engineering teacher one of the best STEM jobs for the future. To gain entry into the field, you'll need at least a master's degree in engineering, though this credential will only enable you to teach at the community college level. You must have a Ph.D. in engineering to teach at a four-year college or university. The payoff is big though; postsecondary engineering teachers make nearly six figures, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median Annual Salary: $98,360
#18 –Computer Network Architect
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 10,500
If you're interested in one of the best paying STEM jobs currently available, then the position of a computer network architect may be for you. Computer network architects are paid a six-figure salary on average to design and build computer networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. Entry into the profession will require at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, or information systems, though employers are increasingly hiring applicants with MBAs in information systems.
Median Annual Salary: $104,650
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 12,600
It may come as a surprise to you that cartography made the cut for our ranking of best STEM jobs 2018. Though technology has certainly transformed the field, jobs for cartographers are on the rise, growing much faster than average. Cartographers do more than just create maps, though. They also examine both quantitative and qualitative data and create various visual representations for this data. Entry into the field requires just a bachelor's degree, preferably in cartography, geography, or surveying.
Median Annual Salary: $63,990
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 23,000
Psychologist might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the best STEM jobs, but this occupation is currently experiencing unprecedented growth, in part due to the increased need for mental health services in public schools. A doctorate is normally required for entry into the field, though sometimes, a master's degree may be sufficient. Psychologists usually specialize in a particular area such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and forensic psychology, for example.
Median Annual Salary: $77,030
#15 –Epidemiologist/Medical Scientist
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 16,100
One of the best STEM jobs in the medical field is that of a medical scientist. These professionals research diseases and other medical conditions to find treatments and potential cures. Due to an aging population, jobs for medical scientists are growing at a faster than average pace. You will need a doctorate to secure a position, however. Keep in mind that most medical scientists specialize in a particular area of medicine, and your degree should reflect your desired area of specialization.
Median Annual Salary: $82,090
#14 –Financial Analyst
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 32,200
Are you good with money? If so, pursuing a career as a financial analyst may put more of it in your pocket. This lucrative field is also growing faster than average, and a bachelor's degree is sufficient for an entry-level position. Employers prefer that you study fields such as statistics, mathematics, economics, accounting, or of course, finance. You may also need a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to practice.
Median Annual Salary: $84,300
#13 –Civil Engineer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 32,200
Many of the best STEM jobs are in engineering, and the job of a civil engineer is no exception. Civil engineers are responsible for designing and executing projects involving public and private infrastructure, including roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, etc. Positions for civil engineers are growing faster than average due to a continually growing population and the increased demand for sustainable and green structures. Those who wish to enter this profession will need a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or civil engineering technology from an ABET-accredited college or university.
Median Annual Salary: $84,770
#12 –Mechanical Engineer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 25,300
One of the best paying STEM jobs in our ranking, the occupation of a mechanical engineer involves designing, building, and testing mechanical devices, including thermal sensors, air-conditioning systems, electric generators, internal combustion engines, and the like. There are different types of mechanical engineers, including auto research engineers, heating and cooling systems engineers, and robotic engineers, for example. Entry-level jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology from an ABET-accredited institution.
Median Annual Salary: $85,880
#11 –Database Administrator
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 13,700
Another of the best STEM jobs in the technology field is that of a database administrator (DBA). These techies store, organize, and secure information in a computer database. More and more information is being collected online, and a variety of industries are becoming increasingly reliant on data to make business decisions, so positions for database administrators are growing faster than average. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information science can qualify you for jobs as systems DBAs or application DBAs.
Median Annual Salary: $87,020
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 3,600
Currently one of the best STEM jobs in the medical field is that of a biochemist. Not only do they make nearly $100,000 a year on average, but their job security is high, thanks to an aging population who rely on new health discoveries to treat their ailments. Biochemists are charged with studying biological processes and applying their findings to real-world problems in healthcare and other fields. If you're interested in working as a biochemist, be prepared to study at the doctoral level in order to become qualified.
Median Annual Salary: $91,190
#9 –Cost Estimator
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 217,900
Thanks to growth in the construction industry, jobs for cost estimators are growing faster than average, making this occupation one of the best STEM jobs for the future. Cost estimators are responsible for predicting the time and costs of projects, including construction projects, using numerical data and financial reports. Most entry-level positions for cost estimators require a bachelor's degree in engineering, finance, construction management, or closely related field.
Median Annual Salary: $63,110
#8 –Computer and Information Research Scientist
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 5,400
The occupation of a computer and information research scientist is not only one of the best paying STEM jobs, but it's also one of the fastest growing. These academic professionals conduct and apply research on how to use technology to solve real-world problems across a range of industries. To qualify for most open positions, you'll need at least a masters degree in computer science or a related field, though federal government jobs may only require a bachelor's.
Median Annual Salary: $114,520
#7 –Petroleum Engineer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 5,100
Petroleum engineers secure one of the best paying STEM jobs in our ranking, earning well over six figures a year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These types of engineers are responsible for finding ways to extract oil and gas from underground rock formations. The outlook for petroleum engineering jobs is promising, but the field is somewhat precarious as growth depends heavily on the price of oil, which can be volatile. Petroleum engineers typically specialize in a specific aspect of the field; you can become a completion engineer, drilling engineer, production engineer, or reservoir engineer, for example.
Median Annual Salary: $132,280
#6 –IT Manager
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 44,200
The position of an IT manager is one of the best paying STEM jobs and one of the faster growing occupations in the technology field. Sometimes referred to as computer and information systems managers, IT managers are charged with overseeing an organization's computer and technology usage. There are different types of IT managers, including chief technology officers (CTOs), IT directors, chief information officers (CIOs), and IT security managers. IT managers will need a bachelor's in computer science or information science to secure a position, though many hold master's degrees.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
#5 –Information Security Analysts
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 28,500
Information security analysts earn a handsome, near-six figure median annual wage, and jobs are in demand, thanks to growing concerns over hacking, identity theft, and other cybersecurity risks. To break into this expanding field, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information assurance, or programming. Prior experience in the tech field is also helpful. In addition, some employers will require that you obtain professional certification, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)credential.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 5,300
Jobs for actuaries are growing much faster than average, making this one of the best STEM jobs 2018. Actuaries also bring home over $100,000 a year on average, and entry-level positions require only a bachelor's degree. This degree can be in actuarial science, statistics, or a related field. Certification may also be required and can be obtained through the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries. Be prepared to specialize in a particular area of the field, such as health insurance, property insurance, or life insurance, for example.
Median Annual Salary: $101,560
#3 –Software Developer
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 302,500
The occupation of a software developer is one of the best STEM jobs in terms of job growth. In the decade between 2016 and 2026, jobs for software developers are expected to explode, growing by an almost unheard of 24%. Since the field is already fairly large, this amounts to over 300,000 new jobs. This boom in the industry is due in large part to the increasing need for software applications, especially for mobile devices. Prospective software developers need merely a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering to be eligible for entry-level positions, though some employers will prefer a graduate degree.
Median Annual Salary: $103,560
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 900
The combination of a six-figure median annual salary and a whopping 30% increase in new jobs by 2026 grants the job of a mathematician a solid place in our best STEM jobs 2018 ranking. Why are mathematicians in such demand? As more and more data is being stored online, businesses need mathematicians to analyze all of this data. If you're interested in pursuing this number-crunching career, be prepared to pursue a master's or even a doctoral degree prior to submitting your application.
Median Annual Salary: $103,010
Number of New Jobs by 2026: 13,500
A staggering projected job growth of 33% makes the role of a statistician one of the best STEM jobs for the future, practically ensuring a job offer upon graduation. This growth is explained by businesses' growing reliance on statistical data as well as a boom in the amount of data from the Internet. Entry-level positions do require a master's degree, however, and employers prefer it to be one in mathematics, economics, computer science, or a closely related field.
Median Annual Salary: $84,060