Top STEM jobs: 8 science and tech careers in high demand

By Susan Ricker

A set of jobs is receiving some well-earned attention. President Obama has mentioned these jobs often in his speeches about improving the economy, nearly every industry is influenced by the discoveries that these workers make, and your children's toys and education are both directly affected by what these workers are capable of.

STEM careers -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- are driving the economy and redefining modern living. Whether you're beginning your career or are considering a change, learn about why STEM careers are leading industries across the nation and world*.

The Top 8 STEM Jobs

Within the set of occupations, these STEM jobs have the most projected growth through 2020:

Biomedical engineer: 62 percent.
Medical scientist, except epidemiologist: 36 percent.
Software developer, systems software: 32 percent.
Biochemist and biophysicist: 31 percent.
Database administrator: 31 percent.
Network and computer systems administrator: 28 percent.
Software developer, applications: 28 percent.
Actuary: 27 percent.

Money, Money, Money

While the majority of new and replacement STEM jobs require at least some postsecondary education, they're a good return on your education investment. The average U.S. salary is $43,460, compared with the average STEM salary of $77,880.

Many of these workers can expect a big paycheck for their hard work. These are the highest-paying STEM jobs making $100,000 or more annually:

Natural science manager
Engineering manager
Computer/info systems manager
Petroleum engineer

These workers also have more freedom in their careers to go out on their own. Between 2009-2011, the growth of self-employed STEM workers in the U.S. was nearly twice the rate of growth for all self-employed workers.

The Top 11 STEM Locations

These 11 metropolitan areas have a strong concentration and large volume of STEM jobs (compared to total employment). Even better news: These locations are predicted to grow their STEM employment by more than 6 percent in the next five years.

San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
Washington, D.C.

For more information on STEM careers, check out this infographic.

*All data from Kelly Services' infographic, "STEM careers: Demand is up for today's innovators"
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