As the Charlotte community works to improve its ranking in economic opportunity, a vital focus has become education and career readiness. Leading on Opportunity, the organization established to implement strategies to improve economic mobility, outlines several recommendations centered around providing students with access to high quality education, career pathway guidance, and work-based learning opportunities. Jobs in STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, are poised to serve as a springboard into stability and career growth for students entering the workforce over the next decade. In Mecklenburg County, there is a demand for 88,500 STEM careers through 2028. These are careers that can earn almost $90,000 annually. That is $36,100 more than the average income for Mecklenburg County.
The U.S. Department of Labor identifies over 80 jobs as STEM occupations in industries ranging from health care to manufacturing to professional services. With so many different options, it can be hard for parents and students to navigate STEM careers and identify which careers can be most lucrative. To assist career seekers, students, parents, and career counselors alike, Charlotte Works has ranked the top 10 STEM occupations for improving economic mobility in the Charlotte area. This ranking was compiled using a weighted scale based on characteristics of each occupation including minimum education level required, entry level salary, years of experience necessary to enter the career path, and current and future job demand.
The top 10 STEM careers for economic mobility in the Charlotte area offer lucrative career trajectories and are mostly concentrated in the health care and information technology sectors. Of the occupations listed that require vocational training, there are ample opportunities for students to earn credentials and degrees as they move through their selected career path. For example, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) may decide to earn their Registered Nursing (RN) degree and eventually a Nursing Practitioner (NP) degree. A Pharmacy Technician may earn a Pharmacy degree through evening classes while working during the day.
Careers in STEM will account for approximately 16% of new job growth in the Charlotte region through the next decade. These job and career opportunities offer residents the opportunity to enter the workforce with stable, promising pathways at a variety of education levels.
See the list of top 10 STEM occupations for improving economic mobility below:
|Rank||Occupation||Minimum Education Level Preferred||Average Entry Level Salary||Job Demand through 2023|
|1||Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)||Vocational Training||$36,800||2,300 jobs|
|2||Registered Nurses||Associate’s Degree||$49,800||10,800 jobs|
|3||Software Developers||Bachelor’s Degree||$68,700||7,100 jobs|
|4||Computer Systems Analysts||Bachelor’s Degree||$63,700||5,700 jobs|
|5||Cybersecurity Analysts||Bachelor’s Degree||$69,800||1,900 jobs|
|6||Medical/Health Service Managers||Bachelor’s Degree||$74,600||1,400 jobs|
|7||Computer Network Architects||Bachelor’s Degree||$76,700||1,000 jobs|
|8||Computer User Support Specialists||Associate’s Degree||$32,100||4,700 jobs|
|9||Pharmacy Technicians||Vocational Training||$23,800||1,500 jobs|
|10||Medical and Health Information Technicians||Vocational Training||$26,600||900 jobs|