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Chapter 7: Postsecondary Outcomes and Employment

Indicator 46: Employment of Young Adults With STEM Degrees

Fifty-six percent of young adults ages 25 to 34 with a bachelor's or higher degree who held a bachelor's degree in a science,technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field were employed in a STEM occupation in 2010. Among these graduates, higher percentages of males than females were employed as computer scientists and engineers/architects, while the reverse was true for their peers who were medical professionals.

Thirty-one percent (or 13 million) of the 41 million young adults ages 25 to 34 in the United States had earned a bachelor's or higher degree in 2010 (see also indicator 43). Twenty-nine percent of these young adults had an undergraduate degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field of study. These STEM graduates included those with undergraduate majors in engineering/engineering technologies (8 percent), health professions/clinical sciences (6 percent), biology/biomedical sciences (6 percent), computer and information sciences (4 percent), physical sciences (2 percent), agriculture/natural resources (2 percent), mathematics/statistics (1 percent), and architecture (1 percent).

In 2010, about 95 percent of young adults with a bachelor's or higher degree in any field were employed, with a range of 86 percent for young adults with an undergraduate degree in architecture to 97 percent each for young adults with degrees in health professions/clinical sciences or in education (see indicator 44). Employment percentages among young adults with undergraduate degrees in the various fields of study also differed by demographic characteristics such as sex, race/ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship status.

Fifty-six percent of young adult STEM graduates were employed in a STEM occupation in 2010; the specific occupations follow: medical professionals (23 percent), computer scientists (14 percent), engineers/architects (11 percent), scientists (5 percent), health professionals (1 percent), and agriculture/forestry workers (less than 1 percent). Forty-four percent of young adult STEM graduates worked in a non-STEM occupation, including 18 percent who worked as business workers/managers and 8 percent as educators.

For STEM college graduates working in STEM occupations in 2010, higher percentages of males than females were employed as computer scientists and engineers/architects. This pattern by sex was also observed among Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and persons of two or more races. For example, 15 percent of Hispanic males with a STEM undergraduate degree were employed as engineers/architects versus 6 percent of Hispanic females. Differences in the percentage employed in these STEM occupations were also found by race/ethnicity (overall and among the male and female subgroups). For instance, a higher percentage of Asian males with a STEM undergraduate degree were employed as computer scientists than their peers in the other racial/ethnic groups (35 percent vs. 10 to 19 percent, respectively). Employment in the computer science profession for STEM undergraduates was also higher among males for Whites (16 percent) and Blacks (17 percent) than for Hispanics (13 percent).

The reverse pattern by sex was observed for STEM graduates working in a medical profession. Higher percentages of females than males who were White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and of two or more races were employed as medical professionals in 2010. For example, 33 percent of Black females with these credentials were employed in a medical profession, compared with 10 percent of Black males. Differences in the percentage employed in the medical professions were also found by race/ethnicity (overall and among the male and female subgroups). For example, higher percentages of White and Asian males who graduated with STEM degrees than Hispanic males were employed as medical professionals (11 percent each vs. 9 percent).

Among scientists, no measurable difference by sex was found in the percentage of STEM graduates who were employed, although a few differences among males and females were found by race/ethnicity. For instance, the percentage employed as scientists was higher for White males (6 percent) than for their Hispanic (3 percent) and Asian peers (4 percent); the apparent difference between White males and Black males (4 percent) was not measurable.

Technical Notes

Estimates are for the entire population in the indicated age range, including persons in both households and group quarters. A household includes all the persons who occupy a housing unit. A group quarters is a nontypical household-type living arrangement where people live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workers' dormitories. Employment estimates are for those who were in the labor force, with reference to the full calendar week prior to the week when the respondent answered the questions. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as defined here, include agriculture and natural resources, biology and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, health professions and clinical sciences, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Respondents were allowed to indicate two major undergraduate fields of study; data reflect the first reported field of study. Thus, this indicator provides information on the percentage of graduates in undergraduate STEM fields, but does not provide an indication of the percentage of graduates in other fields who also took significant amounts of STEM coursework or those who have a second major in a STEM field. Data are assembled based on major field aggregations. In the major field aggregations that were not classified as STEM, some individual fields could be classified as STEM (such as econometrics within social sciences and history). Scientists include those in various disciplines such as astronomers, chemists, and social scientists. Medical professionals include medical doctors, pharmacists, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, and emergency medical technicians. Health professionals include various support personnel such as occupational therapy aides and dental assistants. Born within the United States refers to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas, and those born abroad of American parents.

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Figure 46-1 Percentage of young adults ages 25 to 34 with a bachelor's or higher degree who have a bachelor's degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field, are in the labor force, and are employed, by occupation type, race/ethnicity, and sex: 2010

Table E-46-1 Number, percentage, and percentage distribution of young adults ages 25 to 34 with a bachelorís or higher degree, by undergraduate field of study, sex, race/ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship status: 2010

Table E-46-2 Percentage of young adults ages 25 to 34 with a bachelorís or higher degree who were in the labor force and were employed in any occupation, by undergraduate field of study, sex, race/ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship status: 2010

Table E-46-3 Percentage distribution of young adults ages 25 to 34 with a bachelorís or higher degree who have a bachelorís degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field, are in the labor force, and are employed, by occupation type, sex, race/ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship status: 2010


  
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