Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs are projected to grow 15% between 2021 and 2031. But this year is a mixed bag for many workers in these occupations. In recent months, tens of thousands of tech workers have been laid off at big firms such as Meta, Amazon and Google. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset set out to determine which STEM jobs are best poised for growth.
In this study, SmartAsset analyzed both historic employment growth over four years (from 2017 to 2021) and projected employment growth over 10 years (from 2021 to 2031) to identify and rank the fastest-growing STEM jobs in the U.S.
Specifically, we compared data across 74 occupations using four metrics: the four-year percentage change in the number of workers from 2017 to 2021, the four-year growth in the number of workers from 2017 to 2021, the 10-year projected percentage growth in the number of workers from 2021 to 2031 and the 10-year projected growth in the number of workers from 2021 to 2031. For more information on our data or how we put together our findings, read the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study on the fastest-growing STEM jobs in the U.S. Check out the 2022 edition here.
- STEM jobs are predicted to increase by nearly 800,000. BLS employment projections show a forecasted increase of 798,000 by 2031 and more than half (449,200) are predicted to belong to computer and mathematical occupations.
- Information security jobs are No. 1 for the second year in a row. This profession also ranked as the fastest-growing STEM job in our study. The BLS predicted a 34.7% increase in employment between 2021 and 2031. Additionally, this occupation held the strongest employment growth over the four-year period beginning in 2017 at 49.38% for our entire study.
- Nuclear technicians saw a steep decline in growth numbers. According to BLS data, nuclear technicians saw a 21.75% decline in occupational numbers from 2017 to 2021. As a result, this occupation ranks No. 71, just three spots from the bottom. From 2021 to 2031, the BLS predicts a slightly smaller decline of 16.6%.
- STEM jobs account for 5.9% of the projected fastest-growing occupations. BLS data shows that when computer and mathematical occupations, architecture and engineering occupations, and life, physical and social science occupations are combined, they account for 5.9% of the total employment projected for 2031.
Computer and Mathematical Occupations
Information security analyst remains ranked as the fastest-growing STEM job across all occupations in our study, with employment figures growing by more than 49% between 2017 and 2021. In the coming years, this occupation is expected to see another 35% of growth. At the state level, Alaska saw the biggest increase in information security analysts (200%) between 2017 and 2021.
Computer and mathematical occupations include actuaries, statisticians, computer and information research scientists, and computer user support specialists. And while information security analysts showed the strongest job growth in this category, it is also worth noting that actuaries had the second-highest four-year change between 2017 and 2021 (19.94%) and are expected to grow by 20.8% over the next decade. Additionally, actuaries in Georgia saw the biggest increase in employment between 2017 and 2021 (314%).
Architecture and Engineering Occupations
Industrial and civil engineers are the only two occupations from this job category to rank in the top 10 of our study. Industrial engineers reclaimed the No. 2 spot from last year as the fastest-growing STEM job, while civil engineers ranked No. 8 (up from No. 10 last year).
At the state level, the number of industrial engineers in Alaska grew by 138% from 2017 to 2021. Other states with notable job growth over the same four years include Nevada (104%), Delaware (87%) and Iowa (84%).
Life, Physical and Social Science Occupations
BLS data showed that this job category held a mere 0.9% of employment distribution in 2021, with predictions that it will remain the same over the next 10 years into 2031. But several occupations within this group ranked in our top 10. Biochemists and biophysicists rank No. 3 with projected employment growth of 15.3% between 2021 and 2031. And epidemiologists claimed the No. 7 spot with a projected growth of 25.8% over the same period. Similarly, occupational health and safety specialists and forensic science technicians made the top 10, both with expected growth exceeding 4% in the coming years.
At the state level, the number of biochemists and biophysicists in states such as Delaware, Kentucky and Oregon more than doubled between 2017 and 2021.
Data and Methodology
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations as computer and mathematical, architecture and engineering, and life and physical science occupations, among others.
To find which STEM jobs are growing the fastest, we analyzed 74 BLS-defined occupations across the following four metrics:
- Four-year percentage change in number of workers. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2017 to 2021.
- Four-year growth in number of workers. This is the gross increase in number of workers. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for 2017 to 2021.
- 10-year projected percentage growth in number of workers. Projections come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for 2021 to 2031.
- 10-year projected growth in number of workers. This is the gross increase in number of workers. Projections come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for 2021 to 2031.
Using the four metrics above, we ranked each occupation in every metric, giving all metrics an equal weighting. We then found each occupation’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The occupation with the best average ranking places first in our study. The occupation with the lowest average ranking places last.
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