STEM-related careers can be found in industries ranging from technology to healthcare to business – and even the arts! Careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) are highly diverse and include professions such as architect, sound engineer, game designer, conservator, urban planner, and web developer.
“Interdisciplinary collaboration is the new normal,” says Ali P. Gordon, Ph.D., an associate professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida. “Many of the world’s top engineers and scientists have an appreciation for the arts or are artists themselves. Their interests and talents cannot be contained in a sole discipline.”
“Proficiency in the arts will be particularly important to engineers and computer scientists in emerging industries, such as themed experiences, gaming, and simulation and training,” Gordon further explains. “Programmers and engineers are increasingly teamed up with artists to co-develop software, products, renderings and more.”
As a follow-up to last month’s article on Ten Unusual STEM Careers, here is a list of STEAM careers that call for more well-rounded professionals with artistic backgrounds combined with skills in science, technology, engineering, and/or math.
- Architect – Scientific principles combined with artistic design equals the popular STEAM career of architecture where you’ll create home plans and commercial structures that meet national, state and local building codes. Architects (architechs?) create visual concepts by hand and then bring them to life with computer software. Architects use math and must follow the basic laws of architectural physics, but they don’t have to be math and science whizzes because they work with engineers and other specialists responsible for detailed calculations. Related fields include landscape architecture (designing outdoor areas) and interior design (creating the look and feel of indoor spaces).
- Game Designer – Game design is the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game for entertainment, educational, or other purposes. The game designer is an artist who generates original ideas and concepts for games, using his or her talents to bring the characters and plot to life. The field of video game design is in need of artists of all types for sketching storyboards and layouts, drawing characters and scenery, and creating computer animation. A game designer should be skilled in digital art and 3-D modeling. You may also work with other designers in a team to generate new innovative ideas and devise puzzles or missions for gamers to complete. Generally, a bachelor’s degree along with a few years of related work experience is necessary to land this type of job. Game designers typically have a Bachelor’s degree in Game Arts, Interactive Media, Game Design, or some related field.
- Industrial Designer – Industrial Design incorporates the design of a wide range of products including automobiles, medical devices, consumer electronics, furniture, and footwear. 3D technology is becoming a game changer in product design, as is the concept of sourcing sustainable materials. Most industrial designers complete a design or related program at a vocational college or university. Relevant programs include graphic design, interior design, industrial design, architectural technology, and drafting. A related job is that of an Industrial Engineer, who doesn’t design products but designs the process to create the product. They would be the ones to figure out how to turn an Industrial Designer’s prototype into an assembly line item for mass production. They are trained in more math and science instead of art as in Industrial Design.
- Medical Illustrator – This is a definitive STEAM career mixing science and art. The work you create will be used in journals, for research, patent applications, patient care, medical training, and many other areas. Most medical illustrators have a master’s degree from a 2-year medical illustration program. If this is the route you take, make sure you choose a program that’s accredited.
- Metalsmith – A metalsmith molds and shapes metal to create objects from jewelry to sculptures. This career solders science (you have to understand how metals work and the science behind it) with art (you’re creating things). There isn’t a specific set educational path for metalsmiths, but you can take welding at a trade school or community college. There are also many workshops available. Because it’s very much a freelance type of career, your salary will be what you make it.
- Museum Conservator – A museum conservator is someone who documents, restores and preserves artifacts that are on display in museum exhibits. They use chemical and physical tests to determine the age and make-up of different artifacts, and use problem-solving to determine how to restore and preserve the objects. Museum conservators typically need an undergraduate degree in chemistry, archaeology, studio art, or art history and at least one conservation internship before earning the required master’s degree in conservation.
- Pastry Chef – Baking is part food chemistry and part art. And hey, there’s math too, since you have to get the measurements right. Achieving the perfect combination of taste and texture isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires an eye for detail and a heart for creativity. Pastry chefs must understand the scientific principles behind baking, learn different preparation techniques, and know about food safety. In many cases, cooks and bakers may find work at bakeries even if they forego a formal education. Skilled bakers, however, can get jobs in places where they can earn more. Certificate through advanced degree programs are available, and it’s best to choose one that is accredited. Look for a commercial kitchen, hotel, restaurant or café where you’d can complete your apprenticeship.
- Sound Engineer – Sound engineers are crucial members of the entertainment, broadcasting, and live event sectors. They are the masters of clarity and quality behind many forms of media from movie scores to video game soundtracks. A sound engineer needs to understand the physics of sound and music, as well as know how to operate precision equipment for recording, editing, synchronizing, mixing, and reproducing music, voices, and sound effects. Sound engineers need to be able to set up and work with a wide array of hardware, from microphones to mixing consoles to Mac computers.
- Urban Planner – Urban planning is an interdisciplinary field that includes civil engineering, architecture, design, human geography, social science and politics. While architects design buildings, urban planners develop land use plans for cities with decisions about how areas are developed and even where buildings can be placed. They are experts in land use, space, and urban design. They know that people care about the look, feel, and livability of their communities. They also know that sustainability and efficient use of resources is important. Urban planners often work with architects, landscapers, transportation engineers, and industrial designers.
- Web Designer/Developer – Web designers must have an eye for graphics, design, color theory, typography, and multimedia. They work on the front end to make a client’s website visually appealing. Web developers, on the other hand, work behind the scenes to create the coding that will make the site look as the web designer envisions it. Web developers must know all the many languages available such as HTML, CSS, and Java. An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement for web designers and developers, although some are successfully self-taught. If you can do both web design AND web development, you will be highly sought after. You will need to be good at both coding and graphic design because you’ll be in charge of the look and feel of a website from the front end to the back.
Can you think of any other STEAM careers? Let us know in the comment section below.