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It's Not Your Parents' Tech Career

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and the state of Florida is pretty serious about preparing the workforce to fill jobs in these fields.

Why the big push? In Florida, the number of STEM jobs is projected to increase by 19% from 2008 to 2018, compared to 12% job growth for Florida's economy as a whole. The unemployment rate in Florida's STEM industries stands at 5%, compared to 11% in non-STEM industries.

Eric Roe, director of the Manufacturing Talent Development Group and director of Applied Technology at Polk State College, says that industries across the board are becoming more focused on innovation and technology. "At the same time innovation is requiring highly skilled, educated workers, many of that level are retiring. There is a significant talent gap that needs to be filled."

That's good news for young people deciding on a career path. Don't automatically assume you wouldn't like working in a STEM career just because you didn't like high school algebra … or because your science project exploded … or because you're a woman. STEM careers aren't just for nerdy guys. And some of the coolest jobs around require a background in science, technology, engineering and math. After all, someone had to build and program all of the apps and gadgets you can't live without, right? So have an open mind and explore the options.

Start with your Regional Workforce Board. Ask about STEM jobs training assistance. They will know employers in your area who need workers, and there may be training dollars available to help you qualify for one of those positions.


"This is such an exciting time to be entering the field of engineering. There are products from high-tech biomedical equipment to common household appliances that all need software to make them operate. The new opportunities that exist for environmental engineers are so much more vast than in the past. It's not all about roads, buildings and bridges anymore. If a young adult is focused and has a desire to prepare for a STEM career, like engineering, there are great prospects for a rewarding future."

- Zana Raybon, Executive Director, Florida Board of Professional Engineers


Top Earning STEM Careers in Florida (average Hourly wage 2011)

with an Associate Degree
Industrial Production Managers $51.22
Computer Software Engineers Applications $40.80
Computer Systems Analysts $34.90
Database Administrators $34.38
Registered Nurses $30.83


Top Earning STEM Careers in Florida (average Hourly wage 2011)

with a Bachelor's Degree
Computer and Information Systems Managers $59.46
Engineering Managers $57.24
Natural Science Managers $57.12
Financial Managers $56.41
Environmental Science Teachers $54.74
For a full list of top earning stem careers, visit: www.floridajobs.org/stemjobs

Engineering plays a role in healing the sick.
With an associate's degree in applied science and engineering technology, Jason Troyano works to make sure physicians have the information they need to make the right diagnosis for each patient.

As a field service engineer with General Electric, Jason, 27, is responsible for the installation and maintenance of diagnostic equipment in South Florida hospitals.

"I love what I'm doing and feel really good about the fact that my work plays a huge role in healthcare," says Jason. "I have finally found my place, and there is a lot of room to grow from here."

"GE is always working to make what they have better and develop new equipment to improve what they have. I work with guys who have been doing this for 30 years, and they are constantly going for training. I am excited to be here because I see a future."

Jason speaks with confidence about his future, but that was not always the case. As a 2005 graduate of Port St. Lucie High School, he tried out jobs in construction, fueled planes and even worked as a mental health technician. But nothing seemed right or paid enough for him to live independently. For six years Jason bounced around until he faced a great fear.

"I always said I wasn't college material, but that was just a way to cover the fact that I was really afraid of going to college," says Jason. "Looking back now, that was really dumb. I guess I was afraid I wouldn't make good grades, I couldn't afford it, or I wouldn't fit in."

Knowing he liked electronics and preferred to work in a hands-on environment instead of behind a desk, Jason explored options at his hometown state college.

"I could have gone somewhere that cost a lot more, but I thought I would give it a try at home," says Jason. "I took a tour of Indian River State College (IRSC) and realized there was so much more available there than I ever thought. I received great instruction and training, help with my resume, and one of my professors even took the time to teach me how to properly tie a tie instead of wearing a clip-on to interviews."

Jason had his job offer from GE prior to his May 2013 graduation from IRSC. He is working for one of the largest companies in the nation, has medical, dental and retirement benefits, covers his living expenses and has money left to invest and spend on travel.

Biology degree plants the seeds of a successful career.
When Matthew Kazen, 22, graduated from Vero Beach High School in 2008, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He decided a biology degree would be a strong foundation for physical therapy school, medical school or any advanced technical degree. And he was right.

After completing his associate degree at Indian River State College, Matthew applied for a paid internship at the USDA Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce. He worked as an intern for a year and moved to full-time employment when he completed his bachelor's degree in May 2013.

His work is playing a significant role for Florida citrus farmers and the crops they produce."It's nice to go to a job I enjoy every day," Matthew says, "but it's even better knowing the work I do is making a difference."