Our graduating seniors have had a memorable last semester but now most are preparing for college and ultimately a career. These students should take the task of picking a field of study very seriously. Often students should look for a career that will be around in the future and one that pays well.

Students should consider STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathemetics) related careers when choosing a major. Women entering STEM fields is growing but there is still a gender gap in these fields even with competitive pay and equal wages with men.  According to a U.S. Department of Education report, students studying science or math in college have a higher employment rate and salary than other majors after graduation. STEM majors typically earn an average of $15,500 more annually than non-STEM majors. Engineering and engineering technology tends to pay the most.

Monster.com reports the median annual salary for an electrical engineer, male or female, is $66,000 a year. This is one of the few fields where salaries are the same for both sexes. Women’s salaries actually exceed men’s in several other engineering fields including systems engineering and mechanical engineering and these fields are looking to hire woman.

If you are talented in a certain area such as art or music, you should consider that creative fields are often stressful, have long, irregular hours and offer minimal wages.  They are fun and very rewarding, but so are higher paying career with regular hours and less stressful schedules. These higher paying careers can give you enough time and resources to enjoy your painting, writing, playing guitar, sculpting, etc.

Weigh you choices carefully. Teachers, guide your students. Parents, encourage and offer words of wisdom. Students, talk one-on-one with people in the careers you are interested in, and ask serious questions about income, stress levels, work environment and hours worked. Often the best advice comes from someone who is already working in the field.

In whatever career path you choose, work hard, don’t get discouraged and never give up. There is a lifetime of opportunities awaiting you.

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