10 STEM Career Options Inspired by Hidden Figures

10 STEM Career Options Inspired by Hidden Figures


I had the chance to watch Hidden Figures two weeks ago and was so inspired. Made me wish I went into a STEM-related field. STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is in high demand especially for African Americans and Women.

As a child and student, CAREER was never pushed or emphasized, it was only, GO TO  COLLEGE. But I had no desire to go and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t realize there were so many cool career fields out there and my mind just saw Teacher, Lawyer, or Doctor. Why my natural gifts and abilities weren’t cultivated was beyond me and it makes me quite sad.

I always got in trouble for talking, and I love to talk. On my report cards, I would always get marks saying talks a lot, that was the ONLY thing I got in trouble with. Now think, if I had teachers in my ear saying, you would make a great news anchor, or maybe get into radio or something that would allow me to talk my butt off at work and not my friends and family who would get annoyed sometimes.

I went to North Community High School and was persuaded to go because I was in this group I believe called Black Achievers and I heard all these dope black high school girls saying they go to North and are in the Smart People’s Magnet program. That program was called Summatech and it was college preparation in Math, Science, and Engineering. I really disliked Math and Science but I enjoyed the Engineering part. I learned how to use CADD programs and build electronics. IF I WOULD HAVE KNOWN there were careers that were fun and made good money, I might have headed in that direction.

The missing link

What is missing, from my perspective is the WHY and WHAT behind the how. Teachers are teaching these subjects and equations, and the just how to do these things but they aren’t exposing them to the world that uses certain things that are taught. You know, why am I learning math when I won’t ever use it? If teachers and parents and others would explain why you would need this, what it is used for and even who uses this would be very beneficial.

When I think STEM

I think smart left-brained people, and that may be sort of true but anyone can grasp it with practice and if they really want to. You can memorize equations especially if you use them over and over. You may not like it if it doesn’t come easy for you. That is me, it took me awhile to comprehend the equations and computations but when you practice it, like anything else, you will learn it.

College or Nah

So I was under the impression back in the day that I had to go to college to get paid good money or help me with a career. I also was under the impression that tech and trade schools were for “non-smart” people and boy was I mistaken. And an EXPENSIVE mistake at that.

While attending this Hidden Figures Panel Brunch, I asked one of the panelist, “Can people get into a STEM field with a certificate or do they have to go to college?”

He said, not at all, the best thing for students who want to get into certain areas get experience young. Be an apprentice somewhere, get a part-time job in that area. Then head to a vocational or tech school to get the certification needed.

So be sure to check out programs, tech schools, community colleges and other avenues to get a certification, your pockets will thank you!

Careers in Space that are not specific to STEM

Media and communications

Media and communications workers describe the collaboration involved in developing new technologies—and help the public to understand the importance of the work. These workers use a variety of media to convey information, but they have the same goal: to explain the science of projects or discoveries in an easy-to-understand format.

BLS projects about 145,800 job openings overall between 2014 and 2024 for photographers, producers and directors, public relations specialists, and technical writers. This number includes projected openings for these workers in all types of jobs, however, not just in space exploration.

Photographers. The amazing images from space missions are taken by astronauts or special cameras on spacecraft, not by photographers. Photographers for space projects work on earth to capture all of a project’s milestones, documenting its progress. The photos become a historical record that shows the project’s different phases, from inception to launch.

Producers. Producers are in charge of the budget, the production schedule, and hiring crew members to create educational videos. They may work with directors, who are responsible for creative decisions, and a crew, which may include film and video editors. Videos are helpful for teaching concepts or illustrating processes, such as the steps for assembling a telescope.

Public relations specialists. These workers keep the public informed about space activities and discoveries. For example, they may respond to requests from the media for project details or fulfill requests from schools for educational speakers. Public relations specialists also help prepare the information that is shared through a variety of channels, including news releases and blog entries.

Technical writers. Technical writers often work closely with scientists to present complex information in a way that the public can understand. They may use photographs, diagrams, charts, or other visual material to complement descriptive text.

Read More at the Ocupational Outlook Handbook

10 Cool Careers in STEM Inspired by Hidden Figures

You will find some that do not need a degree, some with an Associate’s Degree and higher degrees. This is meant to be a starting point for you to dig into more and conduct your own research! Hope this helps!

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, and producing new aircraft and spacecraft. Increasingly, these workers are using computer-based modeling and simulation tools and processes in their work.

2015 Median Pay $66,180 per year
$31.82 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 11,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 400


Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

2015 Median Pay $52,720 per year
$25.35 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 204,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -3% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -6,200


Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

2015 Median Pay $58,020 per year
$27.89 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 44,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -2% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -900

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media. This also can lead into 3-D Designing Engineers.

2015 Median Pay $63,970 per year
$30.76 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 64,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,900

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and the usability of products when developing new product concepts.

2015 Median Pay $67,130 per year
$32.28 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 38,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 2% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 800

Agriculture and Food Scientist

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

2015 Median Pay $62,470 per year
$30.03 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 36,100
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 1,900


Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

2015 Median Pay $68,220 per year
$32.80 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 38,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 2,400

Wind Turbine Technician

Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain, and repair wind turbines

2015 Median Pay $51,050 per year
$24.55 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Some college, no degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 4,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 108% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 4,800

Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. Some, called computer network support specialists, support information technology (IT) employees within their organization. Others, called computer user support specialists, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems.

2015 Median Pay $51,470 per year
$24.75 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 766,900
Job Outlook, 2014-24 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 88,800

Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, emergency response, and other purposes.

2015 Median Pay $61,880 per year
$29.75 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 12,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 29% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,600

STEM Career Websites for Students

Found on Science Pioneers

Be an Engineer

Exxon Mobil’s supported site that features engineers, career categories, news and videos of engineering projects in action.

Career Cornerstone

The Sloan Career Cornerstone website provides some career information, profiles, video clips and advice on educational pathways to specific STEM Careers.

Cool Science Careers

Middle and high school students experience what it is like to be a scientist through interactive activities and games. “Imagine Yourself” lets students virtually conduct activities from a field. Includes education requirements and interviews with scientists.

CSI: Web Adventures

Allows students to solve a CSI case at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels, using knowledge of forensic science. Contains an educator’s guide and a family guide, as well as links to online activities (e.g. handwriting analysis, detective abilities). Has a section on cool science careers.

Design Squad Nation

Explore & Design Your World! Become part of the amazing design world and all it has to offer. Learn to build and design through games and tutorials just about anything!

Discover Engineering

Discover Engineering explains what engineering is, describes various careers, and has informational videos and games on engineering.

Discover Engineering (National Engineers Week Foundation)

Multimedia website using video activities to show what engineering careers, trends in the industry and other related information.

Discovery Education

This site has all types of resources for science, math, English, and social studies. They are divided into K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Lesson plans include the objective, materials, procedure, evaluation methods, vocabulary and national standards. In addition to lesson plans, the site also has interactive games, puzzles, activities, contests, STEM career information, and virtual labs.

Dream It Do It

Career toolkit and videos related to high-tech manufacturing jobs.

Education Planner

Great tool for middle and high school students to discover and learn about career paths, look at colleges, how to pay for college all while doing fun interactive activities and interactive exercises. Check out the career cluster activity to see what careers you would be good at.

Engineer Girl

For middle school girls. Engineer Girl has profiles of women in engineering, what classes should be taken in high school and discusses engineering careers for women.

Engineer Girl

This engineering site for middle school girls features cool facts, stories of women engineers, careers, how to pursue an engineering career and much, much more!

Engineer Your Life

A guide to engineering for high school girls. Dream jobs and inspiring women. There are sections for parents and counselors.

Engineer Your Life

This engineering site for high school girls includes sections on why engineering, making it happen, photos and text about women engineers, YouTube videos and blogs, plus sections for teachers and counselors.

Engineer Your Life

A guide on everything engineering for high school girls. Why should you choose engineering, meet women engineers, find your dream engineering job and just how to make it happen.

Engineering K12 Center (American Society for Engineering Education)

Find out how to become an engineer, college information and spotlights of people working in the field.

Engineering, Go for it! eGF!

Engineering, Go for it! Has many interactives, a digital magazine, flash cards, kid’s books, tools for teachers, lesson plans by grade level and career path and scholarship information. Engineering and math activities for all grade levels.

Exploring- Heart of America Council

Exploring is a career education program discovering real world career experiences for the youth with Kansas City organization post. The program helps the students engage, research, build character, leadership skills and guide the students to achieve their full potential.

Generating Girls’ Opportunities

Generating Girls’ Opportunities (G2O) program focuses on expaning education and career opportunities for women and girls in STEM and non-traditional careers. This site includes a variety of activities, resources, career information, videos, research and more to inspire middle and high school girls in STEM!

Girls in Science

Students can read profiles of women in science, watch videos of women scientists on the job, take a career personality quip, compare career requirements in STEM fields, connect with other young women interested in STEM and find out about STEM-related contests and camps.

Gotta Have IT (National Center for Women & Information Technology)

NCWIT has multiple outreach campaigns and career information including Gotta Have IT is an all-in-one computing resource kit designed with educators’ needs in mind. A select set of high-quality posters, computing and IT careers information, digital media and more, the resource kit builds awareness and inspires interest in computing. Gotta Have IT is for all students, but is especially inclusive for girls.

I-SEEK Careers: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

List of occupations profiles including overviews, skills needed, salary, education requirements and videos showing different STEM careers.

IEEE Spark

IEEE Spark is an online publication intended to inspire students ages 14-18 to learn more about engineering, technology and computing and raise excitement about careers in these diciplines. IEEE Spark features articles on technological innovation, university preparation tips, professional career profiles, at-home activities, comics, and more!

Internet Science and Technology Fair

An online investigation in science, engineering, and other technical fields for students to become more interested in science careers and to understand the innovation process.

Internet Science and Technology Fair

An online investigation in science, engineering and other technical fields for students to become more interested in science careers and to understand the innovation process.

iON Future

A suite of online learning games that encourage middle and high school students to explore careers in STEM fields. Students can use the STEM career Matchmaker to find a field that best suits their interests and needs, then access profiles of more than 50 STEM careers from 3D animator to zoologist.

Kelly Scientific Infographics on STEM Career Awareness

Life Works E-Mentoring

A free E-mentoring program for High School and College students interested in information, guidance and support in behavioral & social studies, biomedical science, dental and other healthcare fields.


An interactive career exploration website for middle and high school students sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with information on more than 100 medical science and health careers by title, education required, interest area, or median salary. Alternatively, the “Career Finder” can be used to generate a customized list of careers especially suited for users’ skills and interests.

Manufacture your Future

Great site with tools and resources for parents, teachers and counselors. Manufacture your Future offers STEM lesson plans, videos, tons of manufacturing resources for 6-12th grade teachers. The counselors section offers great insight on careers in manufacturing with the skill and academic requirements that you will need.

Navy STEM for the Classroom

Discovery Education and the Navy present a series of interactive lesson plans specifically designed for 9-12 graders o explore new ideas and new worlds related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Sally Ride Science

Browse through STEM topics for specific contect resource types including videos, lesson plans, graphics, career information, games/puzzles, images and much, much more related to STEM areas. All grade levels included. Check out the career cues for ways to connect with STEM professionals for their bios and information pertaining to their career.


Interactive website to transform the way tween girls look at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Combination of actual girls exploring real-world science and math alongside successful female mentors in the field- plus an online destination where viewers can share their own exciting ideas and projects. There is access to full and partial SciGirls episodes and accompanying activities. Videos are also available in Spanish.

Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Web series that is all about STEM career inspiration. This series profiles cutting-edge scientists and their research, how they got into their STEM-related profession, and what (often unusual) interests they pursue outside of their work. There are currently over 50 video profiles online, including amazing scientists such as Mayim Balik, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Janna Levin and Mae Jemison.

STEM (Minnesota Dept. of Education)

Interactive website with featured careers, resources, and fun activities to help explore STEM education and careers.

Texas Instrument Student Zone

Texas Instrument offerse STEM career resources for students to explore, STEM degrees, careers, courses, and projects.

The Fun Works

This project is a compilation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career development information for middle school and early high school youth. The goal is to create a comprehensive career development resource that is inviting and engaging the diverse populations of middle and early high school students, that builds on their diverse interests, and draws them into a range of career exploration options and resources.

Time Traveler

Travel through the decades to learn about the innovations that shape your life. Use the Decade Navigator to start exploring new technolgies for each year of each decade. Explore virtual labs, science activities and scientists’ profiles.

Try Engineering

Learn more about engineering and engineering careers all while getting a better understanding of just what engineering means and how it can be your career! Look at all engineering majors, resources, lesson plans and play games while learning about engineering.

Try Nano

Great resource for learning all about Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Look at Nano degrees, Nano resources and games, meet real Nano professionals and about what is new in the Nano World!

United States Navel Academy STEM

Students and teachers can find project based learning workshops and programs sponsored by the United States Navel Academy. Resources and outreach link to additional STEM activities.

US News Top 20 STEM Jobs

US news top 20 STEM jobs in the United States.

Weather Wiz Kids

Weather Wiz Kids is a user-friendly comprehensive website that explores all of the different types of weather from hurricanes to winter storms with complete information and pictures. It includes lesson plans, experiments, other weblinks, forecasting, optical illusions and science fair ideas. It also has animations, safety information, weather folklore, and career information.

Women Tech World

Information about various technical careers and FAQs for females interested in pursuing STEM careers.

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