On 10 July 2014, the United States Census Bureau published an interactive visualisation of careers that college graduates go on to have, based on data it has collected via the 2012 American Community Survey.
The graphic links US graduates who majored in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to the jobs they went on to do. By moving your mouse over the label for each STEM subject, you can see the main destination occupations for those graduates. For example, the majority of students majoring in biological, environmental and agricultural sciences ended up working outside the STEM occupations, notably in healthcare.
Some interesting patterns emerge from this graphic. For example, almost half of graduates from courses in engineering or computers, mathematics and statistics stay in STEM-related careers. For all other STEM majors, most graduates end up working in other fields.
It’s also interesting to view it from the other direction. Hover your mouse over the occupational group, and you can see the proportion of graduates from each STEM discipline and what subjects these people studied as their major at college (graduates from non-STEM disciplines are not shown on this graphic, but can be found on one of the other tabs). For example, of the STEM graduates in the business and financial sector, the majority are drawn from the social sciences – which might be surprising if, like me, you thought it would be maths.
The graphic also allows you to split the data according to gender, showing, for example, that STEM-related occupations make up a smaller percentage of jobs for women STEM graduates than for men. The data can also be split according to ethnicity.
This shows what the work force of 2012 is doing, and what they studied, and is an interesting but high-level overview. It would also be useful to know, for example, when they graduated, and whether they are following STEM careers in or outside of academia. Although they don’t have that information, they do have something more.
If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find some more stats that the US Census Bureau collected on median estimated earnings of college graduates split by field of bachelor’s degree, occupation, gender, and STEM-specific roles. They also compare STEM eployement rates across all US states. They surveyed “Full-time, year-round civilian employed aged 25 to 64 with a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.” Below are just a few highlights.
Across the entire sample, the highest median earners were those with a degree in engineering ($92,883) while the lowest were those from the visual and performing arts ($50,684).
The gender difference is stark. The largest pay gap exists between men and women who have received a bachelor’s in physical and related sciences. Here, the median wage for a man with is $89,558. For a woman, it’s $61,907. Across all other bachelor degrees, the difference in median earnings between the sexes is approximately $15,000. But, the data doesn’t show how long people have been working in their respective occupations. they may be comparing people (men and women) who have only just entered the job market with those who have been working for 20 or more years.
The combination of this visualisation with the data on median earnings can be useful for anyone in STEM looking at their career paths. What it shows is that your career choices aren’t limited – US graduates with a STEM major seem to be able to find work in any occupational field, with certain states employing more than others – and certain careers paying more.