Education and Workforce

Does someone need a doctoral degree to be a STEM professional?

June 27, 2022

No.

STEM professionals—people who work in science, technology, engineering, math and medical fields—have a wide variety of educational backgrounds from technical certificates to Ph.D.’s. In fact, the majority of U.S. STEM professionals—55.4 percent—do not hold a bachelor’s degree.

The so-called skilled technical workforce—those working in occupations that use significant levels of science and engineering expertise and skills, but who do not hold a bachelor’s degree—totals 20 million of the 36 million STEM professionals in the United States.

Regardless of level of education, STEM careers tend to pay higher wages, on average, than non-STEM careers. And for the scientific enterprise to thrive, professionals with a wide-range of education are necessary.

Key Takeaways

  1. 1.

    There are many educational pathways towards STEM professions with many folks also earning training through skilled labor organizations and the military.

  2. 2.

    The majority of U.S. STEM professionals do not hold a bachelor’s degree.