Can I have a career in STEM without going to university?
If you thought university was the only option for getting started in your dream science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) career, it’s time to think again. Did you know that 68% of current STEM workers never actually went to university (Australian Government, 2016)? So, where did they study, where are they working now and does going to university actually give you an advantage?
Where did they get their qualifications?
The large percentage of STEM workers who didn’t go to university instead participated in vocational education and training at either TAFE or a private college. In looking at the courses offered by TAFE and private colleges, a large percentage of the courses relate to STEM-related careers. Some of the most popular examples of these include studying health, agriculture, engineering, construction and information technology.
Statistically engineering is the most popular choice of all VET courses, with two thirds of the VET qualified STEM workforce having chosen to study either a diploma or certificate in engineering.
Where are they working?
When it comes to finding a job with your VET qualification there are loads of options. Some popular careers that require VET qualifications include becoming an IT specialist, a cyber security specialist, a machinery operator, a technician or tradie, a health support worker, a lab technician, working in farming or as a food technician. There are really so many options once you start doing your research!
Will VET study or university give you a better chance at finding a job?
This is up to you and there is no one correct answer. There is data that shows that the higher your level of study, the more you will earn. This can be seen with those from a STEM field with a PhD being more likely to earn in the top income bracket compared with bachelor and VET graduates. But, on the other hand when it comes to finding employment recent research highlights that 77% of VET study graduates already have work when they graduate (Australian Government, 2018).
We think the final decisions should really be about a good personal fit. What pathway uses your skills and strengths and interests you? And if you don’t feel like uni is the right option for you right now don’t fear, a VET qualification is a great place to start.
If you want to get started in looking for courses click on the link below to go to our Careers Database which has over 8,000 Australian TAFE and university courses.
Go to the Careers Database: www.careerhq.com.au/careers-database
Australian Government. (2016). Australia’s STEM Workforce. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Retrieved from https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/Australias-STEM-workforce_full-report.pdf
Australian Government. (2018). VET. It’s Right Now. Retrieved from https://www.myskills.gov.au/rightnow