Transitioning to a STEM Career
Updated: Apr 21
Economic realities sometimes dictate a change in career. As we move through the so-called Second Industrial Revolution, this time with a trend toward digitization of nearly every aspect of our lives, more people will face the harsh decision of what to do to protect their financial future when the industry they work in no longer exists or is forced to cut back on employees in favor of automated work.
Within the next few decades, entire industries will vanish. The single biggest industry in the US, trucking, for example, will be performed entirely by artificial intelligence, or AI. Companies are already designing programs that can drive cars without the risk of human error.
So what will laid-off workers do? One of the most promising options is to get a jump on the competition by beginning your transition to a STEM career now. Don't wait until you have run out of choices – with the right planning, you can set yourself up nicely for a rewarding tech-based career.
If you follow the news and internet culture, you may be familiar with the "learn how to code" meme that swept the web a few months back. This came in response to a journalism piece that encourages laid-off miners in West Virginia to "learn to code" as a new means of income. The phrase "learn to code" quickly took off as a dismissive way to suggest an unrealistic career change.
But how unrealistic is learning to code? The practice itself is not overly complicated, and business is booming. New websites need to be coded every day, and if you have the right skill set then landing recurring jobs with developers is easy.
Many schools offer coding training. If you qualify as a part of a special group, like veterans, for example, you may be entitled to enroll in a coding course for free. The web also features a number of free trainings, but the quality of instruction varies. The best trainings include not only the technical aspects of the work but also an introduction to the market to find the highest-paying gigs.
If you love video games and healthy competition, Esports may be just the industry for you. Esports refers to online games and related competitions. Tons of new jobs are popping daily in the industry. Players spend big money on video games and related accessories, so it's possible to make a decent chunk of change in this up-and-coming sector of the economy.
Cybersecurity is the umbrella term for activity that works to protect businesses from digital threats. The most imminent danger on the web is from data theft, so a large part of the work consists of protecting information, both in storage and during transmission. Cybersecurity professionals with the right accreditations can make top dollar.
View the new economic realities of the 21st century as a personal challenge to develop a new skill set and market yourself accordingly. Although the challenge may seem overwhelming, emerging on the other end financially whole with great job satisfaction is possible.