An engineer works on a computer circuit board


Western Colorado University is taking a leading role in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, often referred to as a STEM focus. In so doing, Western will help close the large gap between employment demand and qualified candidates in these fields. The data below demonstrate the increasing need for these college graduates.

  • Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to account for about 557,100 new jobs during that time period.1
  • Seven out of the ten largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations are computer related, and these jobs accounted for two-thirds of employment in the computer systems design industry.2
  • Employment in STEM occupations has grown much faster than employment in non-STEM occupations over the last decade (24.4 percent vs. 4.0 percent, respectively), and STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.9 percent from 2014 to 2024, compared to 6.4 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.3
  • STEM workers command higher wages, earning 29 percent more than non-STEM counterparts in 2015. This pay premium has been increasing from a wage advantage of 26 percent in 2010. In addition, STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. A STEM degree holder had an earnings premium of 12 percent over non-STEM degree holders, all other factors being constant.3


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  2. Fayer, Stella, Lacey, Alan, & Watson, Audrey. (2017). STEM Occupations: Past, Present, And Future. Retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. Noonan, Ryan. (2017). STEM Jobs: 2017 Update. Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce.