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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs 174

dcblogs (1096431) writes The Census Bureau reports that only 26% of people with any type of four-year STEM degree are working in a STEM field. For those with a degree specifically in computer, math or statistics, the figure is 49%, nearly the same for engineering degrees. What happens to the other STEM trained workers? The largest numbers are managers at non-STEM businesses (22.5%), or having careers in education (17.7%), business/finance (13.2%) and office support (11.5%). Some other data points: Among those with college degrees in computer-related occupations, men are paid more than women ($90,354 vs. $78,859 on average), and African American workers are more likely to be unemployed than white or Asian workers.
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For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

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  • Incomplete data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:06AM (#47522599) Homepage

    As usual, jumping to conclusions with incomplete data.

    First, why analyze the percentage of computer and math degree holders who hold an IT job? Why is a mathematics degree automatically equivalent to a CS degree?

    Then we get leaps like the pay gap between men and women. Most likely it's the usual thing: comparing men and women of the same age, without accounting for the fact that the women took more time off for child-rearing, worked part-time, etc.. Compensate for these things, and watch the pay gap disappear.

    Why do many people with STEM degrees not work in STEM jobs? They apparently count management and education as non-STEM, even if these people are managing STEM projects or teaching STEM courses. That already accounts for the two biggest groups.

    The rest of the conclusions are just as shaky. This appears to be a crappy study, deserving of no attention whatsoever...

  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:08AM (#47522605) Journal

    I've long said that the computing field is one where you can make decent money without a degree. I think a lot of that is due to how people in my generation started out tinkering in computers as a hobby and that mindset has still continued. Computer people value ability over certifications and degrees.

    That being said, those pieces of paper open more doors (especially at larger corporations) than not having them. But it is quite possible to be gainfully employed at above median income levels without ever having taken any formal training in computer.

    * I use the generic term "computers" to mean both the programming as well as the technology side. Whether that is coding in Java or Javascript or C++ or C# for programming, you can find someone that will hire you. For the technology side, it can range from desktop support to server admin or DBA. If you know what you're doing, other computer people will recognize that and respect you for it.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:12AM (#47522635)
    Agree... I was the only programmer in my last department that actually had a C.S. Degree; one guy was an education major, one had a degree in chemistry (I guess that's a lateral move in "STEM" as a whole). One guy had no degree at all, and that guy was probably the best programmer of us all.
  • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:20AM (#47522695)

    The lure of a liberal arts degree has always been to have a very well rounded education that just makes you a smarter person instead of just teaching a certain profession. In today's technological world, STEM education is performing a very similar role. Learning high level math provides extreme advances in our current economy regardless of your actual job.

    Hopefully colleges start to understand this and increase the level of math that all college graduates are required to learn. Perhaps in 20 years the average Gen Ed requirements of a Bachelors will require 20+ credits of math related courses to help prepare students for the modern world.

  • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:29AM (#47522763)

    That's not at all what the data says. It says half of STEM graduates work in STEM. It could still be the case that 100% of STEM workers have STEM degrees.

    The fact that this poster made this bad of a mistake in mathematical reading comprehension, and three other people already responded to his post without mentioning the mistake, shows why anyone with proper math training can be successful in almost any profession. People even marked the post as Insightful and Interesting when it was really just Ignorant.

  • by blazer1024 ( 72405 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:37AM (#47522799)

    I used to be a programmer with no degree. I'd like to think I was pretty darn good at it... I knew several languages (C, C++, Python, Perl, Java, and several more) that I had taught myself. I did this for about 9 years, before I finally got a degree in CS, and then got a Master's in CS shortly afterward.

    One thing this did for me is open up my mind quite a bit. I'm still a good programmer, but I now know programming isn't it. There's a lot more that goes on when it comes to developing good software, and though I could code up some pretty good stuff really quickly, now my code is better, more thought out, and most importantly, I am much more likely to ask the question "Is this really the problem we're trying to solve?" leading to actually useful code instead of neat stuff it turned out really wasn't what was needed.

    In addition, I'm better at interacting with people. I used to have the attitude "This makes no sense to me, therefore it's stupid" and now I realize that maybe I don't have all of the information, there's something I don't know (this is key!) which would help me understand and realize my position isn't exactly right, and so I don't just get mad and storm off anymore when things don't make sense.

    Getting a degree made me a more well rounded person... I found a love for history, music and literature that I didn't quite have before. I can have conversations that don't just involve the latest tech and video games. (though I still love talking about that stuff)

    I guess my point is... a degree doesn't make a great programmer, but a degree can help make a better person (which is the whole point really... it's not to "learn a trade", it's to expand your horizons and explore the world and become a critical thinker) and so given the situation, I would likely lean toward hiring a great programmer with a degree over a great programmer without one.

  • by preaction ( 1526109 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:55AM (#47522917)

    I also do not have a degree, though I'm at year 13, and I've learned those lessons you said earning your degree taught you. It is good that you learned those lessons, but your conclusion is specious bordering on elitist.

    I do have a large gap in knowledge. I made a great leap over a mountain of theory and low-level practice that I must fill in, but I (lucky for me) didn't need college to teach me humility and how to be receptive to learning (even when I "know" I'm right). The more I fill in that gap, the more I realize exactly how big that gap is, and strangely, the gap grows as it fills.

    The point being: Though a university degree is how you reached... well... enlightenment, there are many paths. And if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

  • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @12:20PM (#47523091)

    I've been in the industry for over a decade, and have used the calculus and statistics required for my CS degree precisely never.

    That is no different than a philosophy student saying "I've been working for over a decade, and haven't had Plato's cave brought up in a single board meeting yet." The goal of a general education is not to train students in the tools they will use in their jobs, it is to train them how to think.

    If you haven't used your increased capacity for logical thinking, or your ability to understand statistics greater than the average person, then you either never learned much in those classes or you just aren't being honest about how much you actually learned.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @12:39PM (#47523273)

    It's all down to the idiocy that is relativism. Logic, math and science are socially constructed and hence may be ignored at no cost.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @12:55PM (#47523407) Homepage Journal

    "STEM trained workers? "
    They have degree in the field, not 'trained workers'.
    You can have a BS Mathematics, and go into a number of fields that aren't specific to mathematics.
    You think you get a degree in Mathematics and then go to the mathematics factory and churn out maths?

    Plus, you can get a degree in something simply because it interests you, and not because you want a career in that field.

    University is not job training. Please stop treating it as such.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva