10 Unusual STEM Careers

10 Unusual STEM Careers

that you probably haven’t heard of…

Mention of STEM jobs often conjures up images of traditional careers in medicine and engineering, which can then lead to students considering a career in STEM as uninteresting. Part of the problem is that students simply aren’t aware of many of the other opportunities out there. Contrary to popular belief, a STEM career is often a less-traveled path. Here’s a list of unusual STEM careers to start you off. The rest are still waiting to be discovered.

Here are some of the important features that help to make the Twig Science experience great for setting students on the path to long-term STEM success—even while we’re still in a period where usual learning patterns are being disrupted.

1. Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is an experimental technique in which a defective mutant allele is replaced with a functional one. With further development and research, gene therapy might hold the key to treating a wide range of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and AIDS. The technique is currently still in its early stages but is already proving effective. In a case just over two years ago, a French teen was given gene therapy for sickle cell disease, and now has enough functioning red blood cells to dodge the effects of the disorder.

2. Robotics

Robots have fired our imagination since times immemorial, from the Greek giant Talos to CP3O and Robocop. Robots come in various sizes and forms and are used in a number of industries such as medicine, agriculture, the military, and manufacturing. A career in robotics offers several options. Robotics engineers design, build and test robots; software developers design the operating systems that are built into robots; robotic technicians build, maintain, test, and repair robots. You can also get robot operators whose job it is to remotely control vehicles or robot submarines, used for undersea repairs and exploration. You can’t ask for a cooler job than that.

3. Ecology

Ecologists often have to apply for individual special licenses in order to study, survey, or conserve special species, such as bats. They perform important tasks that are crucial to our understanding of our planet and its ecosystem. We all know that science is intrinsic to understanding our world, and that our actions can have big impacts. Ecologists help us to understand that chain of action and reaction. They study the delicate relationships between animals, plants, and the environment. They investigate urban, suburban, rural, forest, freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments, helping us understand the connections between organisms and their environment.

4. Medical Illustration

If you think STEM is all about numbers and calculations, then let us introduce you to the world of medical illustration. Medical illustrators use the best of both science and art to produce photographs, videos, and graphical images for use in health care, helping to promote scientific knowledge to patients and the greater public. Being a medical illustrator isn’t easy, though—it involves grasping and distilling down complex information in order to represent it within a clear visual narrative that is accurate, educational, and engaging. Medical illustrators are strongly in demand—they’re needed in a variety of medical fields, from genetics to robotic surgery.

5. Photogrammetry

We did promise you unusual STEM careers! Photogrammetrists are essentially mapmakers—but if the term “mapmaking” conjures up images of sundials, compasses, and old parchments, then you might be a little off-path. Mapmaking today uses aerial imagery and digital databases—photogrammetrists utilize satellite images, aerial photographs, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to craft models of the Earth’s features and surface to create topographic maps.

6. Pyrotechnic Engineering

Pyrotechnic engineers make sparks fly—but more specifically, they make fireworks fly, designing displays for use in sports arenas and concert venues, and for special effects in movies and television. A lot goes into designing fireworks, as it is a difficult and dangerous job. Pyrotechnic engineers must have a working knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mathematics in order to design precisely timed explosions.

7. Forensic Science

Forensic scientists are the superheroes behind the scenes, analyzing everything from blood samples to tyre tracks in order to provide impartial scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations.

8. Sound Engineering

Consider a career in the film/music industry—all that’s necessary is a good ear and a STEM qualification. Sound engineers/technicians work in a range of industries including film, broadcasting (radio or television), live performance (theatre, music, dance), advertising, and audio recordings. They are required to assemble, operate, and maintain the technical equipment used to record, amplify, enhance, mix, and reproduce sound. They identify the sound requirements for a given situation and use their specialized knowledge to produce this sound.

9. Cryptanalysis

Cryptanalysts design, implement, and analyze algorithms for solving problems. This career requires a high level of expertise in mathematics because the codes used are based on numerical theories and cutting-edge mathematical algorithms. Cryptoanalysts decipher secret coding systems and decode messages for military, political, or law enforcement agencies or organizations, helping to provide privacy for people and corporations and keep hackers out of important data systems. Now, repeat after us: math is cool.

10. Food Chemistry

Having a STEM education has some unusual perks, especially if you are a foodie. Food chemists experiment with the chemical makeup of foods to make them safer, tastier, longer-lasting, or easier to ship. This requires food chemists to be highly trained in chemistry, food sciences, and organic chemistry. They are actively involved with raw and packaged food, trying to work out longer shelf lives, heat processing methods, packaging problems, and how to enhance nutritional content. Job perks can even involve sampling food!


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