Science & Math

According to a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in November 2013, Americans aged 16 to 65 score well below the international average in math and science testing, as well as numeracy and problem-solving skills. The U.S. ranked 21 out of 23 countries included in the study.

This is disappointing news to the kinds of business and industry that rely heavily on employees who are well trained in both math and science. Manufacturing and engineering companies particularly are affected, as the nature of the work completed in both industries require strong math and science skills.

U.S. companies constantly are seeking out qualified candidates to fill vacant positions, and finding they oftentimes must bring in candidates from other countries to fill them.

More schools are beginning to focus on the importance of a strong foundation in math and science, and are incorporating STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses into their curricula.
But more than a high school diploma is required to work in many of these positions.

Education Requirements

There are a variety of degrees available in the math and sciences. The level of degree needed is dependent on the kind of career that is being pursued.
An associate degree in math or science takes two years to complete and includes courses highly concentrated in both disciplines. Those who graduate with an associate degree are eligible to work in several careers, including as software engineers, actuarial assistants and environmental mathematicians.
Those who pursue a bachelor degree in a math or science discipline will be expected to complete four years of schooling. Those who choose to pursue a math-related degree will find coursework that focuses mainly on a variety of math concepts, including calculus, differential equations and linear and abstract algebra. Many bachelor programs in math also include some engineering-related courses.
Students who choose to pursue a bachelor degree in a science-related field will concentrate mainly on science courses. Undergraduate degrees qualify candidates for a variety of entry-level positions in a number of industries. They also can work as teachers in middle or high schools; however, they also will be required to earn their teaching certification in order to do so.
If teaching math or science is a goal – or working in a field such as engineering – candidates will require a master or doctorate degree in order to do so. Most colleges and universities require their professional teaching staff to possess a doctorate degree. Those who possess a graduate-level degree also can work in research and management positions within a variety of industries.

Future Outlook

Due to science and technology advancements, more jobs are becoming dependent on workers well-trained in math and science.

Math and engineering jobs alone are expected to see a growth rate of 24 percent between now and 2020.

The average annual salary for those who possess a math or science-related degree ranges from a low of $49,000 per year to a high of $110,000, depending on the industry in which a person is working.

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