In August 2019, Bankrate.com released a study of the most valuable college majors among 162 options at universities around the country. Among these 162 majors, degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were considered the most valuable. Not only was unemployment low (typically under 3%), but STEM career fields also provided the highest potential earnings.
The same Bankrate.com study also showed that art-based degrees were the least valuable. While unemployment in these fields remained relatively low (around 4% to 5%), the earnings ceiling was markedly less profitable, netting graduates $40,000 or less annually. Unfortunately, the lack of opportunities and earnings can severely hinder even the most talented art student. But remote work has a way of circumnavigating a potential lack of income.
If you’re planning a remote career based around remote work, both STEM and the arts have a rightful place among the telecommute job community, regardless of whether the study considers your background one of the most valuable college majors. Graduates with a STEM degree may have more opportunities. But creatives still have the chance to earn a living in a variety of ways. Regardless of your major, your aspirations, or your job scope, the remote world is rife with job openings to satisfy your work-life balance and dreams of working from home.
STEM Remote Job Options
Employers are constantly searching for qualified STEM graduates for many reasons. In most instances, STEM degrees provide wider flexibility of job options, as well as a challenging curriculum that translates well into real-life work situations. Bankrate.com lists these five degrees as the most valuable college majors:
- Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (Median Income: $90,000; Unemployment: 1.6%).
- Nuclear Engineering (Median Income: $98,100; Unemployment: 1.8%).
- Pharmaceutical Sciences & Administration (Median Income: $100,000; Unemployment: 2.2%).
- Genetics (Median Income: $85,000; Unemployment: 1.2%).
- Electronic Engineering (Median Income: $99,000; Unemployment: 2.7%).
Sadly, these jobs—more often than not— are occupations you must do in the field. However, plenty of remote positions still fall under the umbrella of STEM jobs, giving you a wide array of career options.
Median Pay: $105,590 annually or $50.77 per hour (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], 2018).
Job Growth: 21% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Software developers are the creative forces behind computer programs and software. As a software developer, you’ll work as a designer for apps or network-based computer systems. Common job duties and responsibilities of these professionals include mapping and crafting the design of an app or system, coding, teaching other developers, and collaborating with other departments to develop the ultimate user experience.
Necessary Qualifications: Most software developers earn a STEM-based degree in either software engineering or computer science. These curriculums cover topics such as algebra, calculus, and differential equations in addition to hands-on computer programming.
Median Pay: $102,880 annually or $49.46 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 20% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Using mathematics, risk management, financial theories, and statistics, actuaries assess the risk of insurance policies, pension funds, and other financial programs. Doing so allows their employer to ascertain the risk of future events, giving them time to roll out new programs or hedge any potential losses by making other investments.
Necessary Qualifications: Unlike other STEM jobs, an actuary can pursue a degree in accounting, finance, or business in lieu of an actual STEM degree. However, the most qualified candidates have some type of coursework or background in STEM classes. For those disinterested in a business degree, a major in statistics and mathematics will guide you on the path to becoming an actuary. A certificate from the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society also heightens career opportunities and salary.
Median Pay: $99,070 annually or $47.63 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 2% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Ranked as the fifth-best STEM degree and one of the most valuable college majors by Bankrate.com, electrical engineers are individuals who develop, design, and test electrical systems for a variety of applications. Common projects of electrical engineers include radar, lighting systems, machinery, computers, robotics, and buildings. While employers may require some electrical engineers to work onsite, others can conduct at least a majority of their work remotely, giving this high-paying, low-unemployment gig an attractive potential.
Necessary Qualifications: A vast number of electrical engineers earn a degree in electrical engineering, although a different type of engineering degree with commensurate experience may suffice. Graduate degrees aren’t always necessary, although employers often give preferential candidacy to electrical engineers with particular expertise. Certificate programs are available in dozens of fields. This may include computer-aided design or programmable logic controller (PLC) programming.
Median Pay: $88,190 annually or $42.40 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 30% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: A statistician uses advanced mathematical techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. In most instances, statisticians are tasked with determining the problems or questions a company should answer, figuring out how to collect the right data, analyzing that data, and reporting their discoveries to management or their client.
Necessary Qualifications: Depending on the complexity of statistics, a statistician may have either a business or a STEM background. Many business schools now offer a statistics major, although a degree in mathematics is compulsory for high-level statistics jobs.
Median Pay: Varies
Job Growth: Varies
Job Description: Project manager is a broad, umbrella term for a professional who oversees the planning and execution of a particular project. Because of the variance in job roles, there is no one-size-fits-all job description for project managers. However, many of these individuals handle day-to-day operations, motivate their colleagues, adhere to a budget, help define the project, and cut costs as necessary.
Necessary Qualifications: Although some project managers hold a business-related degree with STEM coursework, other candidates obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or statistics. To increase their earnings and hiring potential, most project managers earn a project management certification. These certificates require coursework, relevant on-the-job experience, and the completion of an exam.
Median Pay: $71,850 annually or $34.54 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 8% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Technical writers are the liaison between creators and consumers. They turn complex ideas and jargon into ideas that are simplistic and easy to understand for end-users. In addition to manuals and guides, technical writers also craft training guides, certain types of assessments, and other documentation.
Necessary Qualifications: Because of the copious amounts of writing, some technical writers have a degree in journalism or creative writing. However, many of the most successful or hireable technical writers earn a STEM-based degree in areas such as computer science or engineering. Because they can understand these complex topics from their educational background, the translation from complex to simple through writing is often easier.
Creative Remote Job Options
Even if you prefer arts, writing, and music to mathematics and science, the remote job world has opportunities for you. The most valuable college majors may not pertain to this portion of the job market, but you’ll still have opportunities to turn your degree into a rewarding, viable career path. The Bankrate.com study references these degrees as the least valuable college majors, but it shouldn’t hinder you from pursuing your passion or ignoring your talent:
- Drama & Theater Arts (Median Income: $35,500; Unemployment: 5.2%).
- Visual & Performing Arts (Median Income: $32,000; Unemployment: 4.1%).
- Composition & Rhetoric (Median Income: $37,800; Unemployment: 4.4%).
- Linguistics/Comparative Language/Literature (Median Income: $40,000; Unemployment: 3.9%).
- Fine Arts (Median Income: $37,000; Unemployment: 4.8%).
The upside to obtaining one of these college degrees is that they may translate to any number of remote jobs. Although they aren’t the most valuable college majors, finding a job that you enjoy and excel at can lead to more income and career advancement opportunities.
Median Pay: $62,170 annually or $29.89 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 0% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: The advent of the information age has created an entirely new job market for writers. While technical writers fall under this title, most creative writers can turn their talent into a number of titles. This includes jobs such as content writer, copywriter, or content manager. Most often, these individuals use their skill of the written word to create blogs, articles, and other compelling copy to enhance reach and increase conversions.
Necessary Qualifications: Creative writing, journalism, communications, marketing, and advertising are the most common educational backgrounds for many writers. But many professionals in other creative or STEM areas have used their industry expertise to become successful writers and turn their degree into one of the most valuable college majors. Certifications in content marketing, affiliate marketing, and inbound marketing along with writing classes can increase a writer’s chances of finding employment, even as a freelancer or contractor.
Median Pay: $58,990 annually or $28.36 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 11% (BLS, 2018)
Job Description: Videographers are professional filmmakers who record segments for television and internet-based companies. Unlike cinematography-based individuals, videographers don’t often use film. Instead, they rely on electronic media such as digital cameras or streaming video.
Necessary Qualifications: Although some videographers earn a bachelor’s degree in cinematography, video production, or film studies, others are self-taught. The increase of digital media recording has enabled motivated individuals to enter the world of videography. Thus, they have a unique aspect of how to create compelling videos for marketing, advertising, or informational purposes.
Median Pay: $50,370 annually or $24.21 per hour (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 3% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Working hand-in-hand with advertising and marketing departments, a graphic designer uses their creativity to craft logos and visual concepts. While some are responsible for print ads, others improve the layout of webpages and the user experience.
Necessary Qualifications: A degree in graphic design is a surefire way to enter the graphic design industry, yet some graphic designers may also earn a degree in fine arts. Experience with computer-aided drafting programs and photo-editing software is highly coveted.
Median Pay: $26,970 annually (BLS, 2018).
Job Growth: 4% (BLS, 2018).
Job Description: Tutors are educators who provide students with assistance in a variety of subjects outside of normal school hours. In addition to teaching their clientele one-on-one or in small groups, tutors also create lesson plans and test exams to enhance the learning process.
Necessary Qualifications: Tutors may have a background in education, but they may also have specific expertise in another of the least or most valuable college majors. Art majors, theater majors, and music majors are just some of the creative backgrounds that tutors may possess.
Whether you’re going back to school or you’re starting a new career, STEM degrees may have the upper hand. But no major disqualifies you from finding exciting remote and telecommute job opportunities. Check out the Virtual Vocations telecommute job database to find a career that fits your goals and career aspirations.
Do you have a remote job one of these valuable college majors? Or are you remotely successful in a different field? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you!
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