Just in case you didn’t know, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. And frankly, there’s never been a more fruitful time to hold a degree in one (or more) of these fields. Everybody knows that the world’s scientific and technological productivity has absolutely exploded in the last few decades. It hasn’t been a gradual development from the days of old either -- since 1971, computer processing power has multiplied, quite literally, by one million. In fact, according to a nifty little theory called Moore’s Law, computer processing speed doubles every 18 months.
The point is, the doors have been thrown wide open for experts in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and our old ancient and reliable friend, Maths. Fascinating, financially rewarding job vacancies are appearing thick and fast, but not all of these career paths tread the “normal” path.
Top 8 unusual jobs for STEM graduates
- Ethical hacker
- Nuclear Engineer
- Toy designer
- Beer brewer
- Cosmetic scientist
We’ve done a little digging into STEM careers and emerged with a number of rather unusual ones which may catch your interest.
1. Ethical hacker
If we’re to believe the movies, computer hacking is a seriously cool thing to do. But it’s also a highly illegal thing to do. “Ethical hacking” however, involves using your skills in the dark arts for the greater good. In short, it’s an ethical hacker’s job to think and act like a villain, in order to identify flaws and vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks and data.
While Ethical Hacking makes total logical sense, the field of Cryptozoology is a little more… out there, let’s say. Cryptozoologists spend their days trying to prove, or discover more about, the potential existence of mythical species. The Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, dragons, unicorns and the like. Your chances of success in the job are understandably low, so you’ll have to be fond of the chase! While it may sound like a ludicrous career, cryptozoology actually does have its merits. Once upon a time, species like the giant squid and the Komodo dragon were believed to be nothing more than fantasy. Thanks to fanatical cryptozoologists though, they’ve been proven to be very real.
Frequent travel to wonderful areas of natural beauty coupled with the chance to save the world from disaster. Volcanoes are essentially ticking timebombs, so it’s imperative that we can correctly predict the likelihood of eruption. That’s where volcanologists come in. By studying samples of volcanic rock and ash, and modelling volcano activity, volcanologists are responsible for alerting the world to the risk of an impending eruption. Another way of looking at it is this: Whereas meteorologists busy themselves by predicting the weather, volcanologists take things to a more extreme level. They’re basically a meteorologist’s much cooler older sibling!
4. Nuclear Engineer
Maybe this one isn’t really so unusual, but how many nuclear engineers do you know? The topic of nuclear energy is something of a bone of contention. It’s simultaneously one of the cleanest yet most dangerous forms of energy available to us. The world has seen a few devastation nuclear accidents over the last three decades -- Fukushima and Chernobyl come to mind. But that’s precisely why more experts in the field are needed. It’s their job to build and maintain nuclear power plants and reactors, as well as ensure that nuclear waste can be safely managed. It’s the kind of job where mistakes could be catastrophic, but any advances made could literally save the world too!
Metalsmithing might sound like a career choice of a long distant past, but it’s alive and well today. Just look at all the metal used in every way, shape and form in the world. Someone has to make it, right? The thing is, this is much more than a simple trade. Metalsmithing is a craft that requires total expertise on the chemical and molecular properties of each metal. Metalsmiths might work in huge, mechanically - abundant factories, or on their own with a hammer, tongs and a lot of physical effort. A job that’s part physical, part artistic flair, and part science? Sounds like a perfect balance to us!
6. Toy designer
An amazing career if you’re still a big kid inside -- and let’s face it, we all are! Engineering is the core skill of toy design. Well, engineering and imagination. You could go it alone and try to create the next huge kids’ toy or game, or you could get a job at the likes of Lego, Hasbro or Mattel! Outside of toy making, STEM graduates with a youthful inclination could find themselves working in video game development or animation!
7. Beer brewer
Quite the opposite of child’s play. Beer brewing is a pretty exact science, but with the world of craft beer brewing experiencing a huge boom, as well as the continued success of multinational beer brands, expert brewers with backgrounds in microbiology or chemistry are in high demand.
While those big, already fully established brewing companies will have their recipe and brewing process perfected, the craft and startup beer industry comes with plenty of room for creativity with flavour profiles, fermentation processes and ingredients selection. In fact, there’s a hint of the mad scientist surrounding some of the more avant-garde brewers out there!
8. Cosmetic scientist
Tasked with creating make-up, skin care products, shampoo, soap, perfume and a whole truckload more -- there’s some highly scientific laboratory work going on behind the scenes in the beauty and cosmetics industry. Anything else would be deeply irresponsible and potentially unsafe after all! If you head down the route of cosmetic science, you’ll come up with new or improved ideas for product formulations, and trial them to perfection in the lab, hopefully avoiding animal testing in the process, since we like all things ethical here at Edvoy!