Ten Unusual STEM Careers

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Students majoring in these subjects enter careers as scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians. What comes to mind when you think of STEM careers? Aerospace? Computer science? Robotics? Green energy? These are all popular STEM career fields. But there are some unusual STEM careers that people often overlook. The following outside-the-box career paths will appeal to people who want to do something different.

3D Printing Engineer – This is one of the rapidly emerging fields, and one that has tremendous potential to change our world as we know it. From organ transplants to car manufacturing and housing, 3D technology is a game changer—and the opening doors are limitless and global. As of right now, there are very few courses or degrees specific to 3D printing. But related careers include mechanical, electronic, and civil engineering, as well as industrial design.

Food Scientist – Research scientists who specialize in agriculture often work as food scientists. They are usually responsible for developing or improving food products as well as the processes for manufacturing, storing and packaging food. They use biology, chemistry and other life sciences to assess the nutritional makeup of ingredients, research new sources of food, and determine strategies for making foods healthier or more delicious. At least a bachelor’s degree in food science is a must, with a strong knowledge of microbiology, food chemistry, and other related sciences. There are many specializations and certifications available in this field.

Forensic Technician – Forensic lab technicians, chemists, and scientists apply their knowledge and background in scientific analysis to address matters of law and justice. They use microscopes and other instruments to analyze and interpret samples of physical evidence found at a crime scene. By using scientific principles and the latest laboratory techniques, these professionals help to solve crimes and successfully prosecute criminal offenders. Some forensic scientists are generalists; others specialize in a particular area of laboratory analysis.

Embalmer – An embalmer is a highly trained professional with a specialized skill set including pathogenic microbiology, systematic pathology, thanatochemistry, gross anatomy, clinical mortuary science, embalming, restorative art, applicable laws and regulations, and special services such as cremation and preparations required by specific religious communities. To become an embalmer, one must land a position with a licensed funeral home, laboratory, or research facility.

Technical Writer – Technical writers research, write, edit, proofread, and format publications tailored to specific audiences – from how-to guides and instruction manuals for the general public, to complex articles and documents for medical, engineering, and science professionals. Technical writers normally possess a mixture of technical and writing abilities. This career requires an excellent command of the English language and may also require knowledge in a specialized technical area, possibly with the ability to code. With the rise of e-learning, technical writers are increasingly becoming involved with creating online training materials. Technical writers typically have a degree or certification in a technical field such as engineering or science, with additional courses in technical communications; but they may also have a degree in journalism, business, or another field. Many technical writers gain expertise in a particular technical field and then branch into related forms, such as software quality analysis or business analysis.

Certified Ethical Hacker – The job of a certified ethical hacker is to hack a company’s network to find where it’s vulnerable so it can be reinforced, keeping non-ethical hackers out. Certified ethical hackers need to have a robust understanding of computer science, as well as a certification or degree in a related field. Internet security experience is a must, and they should obtain formal certification as a CEH.

Underwater Archeologist – This career combines archeology and marine science, with a major focus on the oceans and other bodies of water. All civilizations from ancient times to the modern day have used waterways for travel, and some sites of human occupation that were once on dry land are now submerged, leaving historic artifacts buried beneath the sediment. A variety of scientific specialties are used in underwater archeology, such as dendochronology, archaeobotany and archaeozoology. Marine archeologists also learn underwater mapping and trilateration techniques – the same methods used to map and measure shipwrecks.

Cartographer – Cartography is an often-overlooked STEM career. While map-making may seem like a quaint occupation from the past, now it is a high-tech field that relies on GIS (geographic information systems), LIDAR (light imaging detection and ranging), and satellite imagery. Today’s cartographers must be comfortable with technology as they use computers to create maps for the government, private businesses, and the public.

Prosthetist – Prosthetists combine their knowledge of science and engineering to design, create, and fit artificial legs and arms for people who have had amputations due to conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or injury. The prosthesis (prosthetic limb) is made of a unique combination of appropriate materials, alignment, design and construction. Important considerations include stability, shock absorption, and cosmetic appearance while also meeting the functional needs of the individual. These needs are often complex and may include specific challenges such as dressing, eating, writing, standing, walking, and athletic activities. In some cases, an internal prosthetic can be implanted in an arm or leg to replace missing bone.

Veterinarian – Veterinarians provide care for not only pets but other animals as well. They may specialize in treating livestock, wildlife, or zoo animals. They may also specialize in certain types of animals such as mammals, birds, amphibians or reptiles. As technology advances, veterinarians implement new ways of examining, diagnosing and treating animals, including the use of high-tech imaging equipment and the latest surgical techniques.

We hope our list of ten unusual STEM careers and their descriptions introduced some interesting job ideas to consider. Can you name any other unusual STEM careers?

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