Many STEM Jobs Don’t Require a Four-Year College Degree

    The whole saga of contractor Edward Snowden, who spilled top-secret information about the government’s electronic data-collection program, raises a lot of questions. Not the least of which is: How did a high-school dropout land a job paying $122,000 at Booz Allen Hamilton?

    Slide Show

    IT Professionals’ Salaries on the Rise in 2013

    Snowden’s failure to complete high school and military training should have raised plenty of red flags, according to a story at USA Today. That piece suggests that government agencies have become so desperate for tech talent that they’ve opened themselves up to security risks.

    A new report from The Brookings Institution, “The Hidden STEM Economy,” however, finds that a college degree isn’t required for many jobs in science, technology, math and engineering.

    It says 20 percent of all U.S. jobs require a high level of knowledge in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field.

    Half of all STEM jobs, though, don’t require a four-year college degree. These jobs pay on average $53,000 —10 percent more than other jobs with similar educational requirements. Still, that’s a far cry from what Snowden was making.

    While Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., have the most STEM-based economies, the paper says, Baton Rouge, La., Birmingham, Ala., and Wichita, Kan., are among the metropolitan areas with large numbers of STEM jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.

    Even in Silicon Valley, 27.5 percent of the STEM jobs don’t require a college degree, and those jobs pay on average $73,000, reports That’s $30,000 more than the average for jobs outside STEM.

    “The overemphasis on four-year and higher degrees as the only route to these careers has neglected cheaper and more widely available pathways,” the report says.

    Latest Articles