You Don't Need a STEM Degree to Make Good Money
It's common knowledge that those who graduate with a degree in the STEM majors (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) or in business can usually nab a high-paying job. Experienced equity analysts, engineers, actuaries and computer scientists can earn six-figure salaries, according to PayScale.
Still, while STEM fields, especially engineering, offer some of the highest paying jobs for millennials, you're not doomed if you graduated with a liberal arts degree, said Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster.com. "If you didn't graduate in those fields, it doesn't mean you are not going to get a high-paying job," she said.
Management positions in business development, human resources or marketing can earn six-figure salaries, for example.
And don't let the manager title fool you into thinking these positions are decades away. Experts say manager roles like these can typically be acquired within a few years. And there are other high-paying positions that don't require a STEM or business degree.
Here are some tips to make sure you're well-positioned to land one.
Assess your strengths.
Before you seek out a new position in your company, or a new job, be clear about the skills and expertise you have to offer. "Know your market value," said Scott Dobroski, associate director of corporate communications at Glassdoor.com.
Dobroski suggests using an Excel grid or pen and paper to list your strengths in one column and your weaknesses in another. Compare the strengths with jobs or career paths you're considering. If your strengths line up "that's a good indicator that you could make an easy transition," he said. If more of your weaknesses align with the desired role, it's an indication that you likely need to learn certain skills before you can make the move.
Job sites like Glassdoor.com, MyNextMove.com, or Careercast.com can help you assess your skills and see what roles might be a good fit. To get a better idea of your strengths and skills, Dobroski also suggests asking your friends and family.
How much are your skills worth? Sites like PayScale.com, Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can give you an idea of the income levels you can expect for different roles.
After you've assessed your strengths and interests, make a list of your key selling points—from leadership roles you've held to specific skills you've developed (like working on an email marketing campaign, say, or managing a large project)—as well as achievements that you can use to pitch yourself for the roles that interest you.
Develop the skills you need to land higher-paying roles.
Scan job listings regularly and you may see higher paying hybrid positions that overlap with your skills and interests "that you may not know even existed," said Dobroski,
Take a role like product manager, said Salemi. A STEM or business degree is not necessarily required for this potentially high-paying position, which handles oversight duties involved in getting a product from the concept stage to the production stage. (Senior product managers can make an average of about $125,000, according to PayScale.)
If you enjoy marketing, why not aim to become a manager? "Just about every company has a marketing department," Salemi pointed out. A marketing manager researches and develops plans to implement sales and can make an average base salary of $100,000 and there are about 14,000 job openings, according to Glassdoor.com. These types of role require relevant computer skills, the ability to multi-task and have a very strong ability to communicate, said Salemi. They usually do require leadership experience and that you demonstrate that you have supervised at least one person.
If you don't have supervising experience and want to get into the managerial field, Salemi suggests talking to your current boss about supervising one or two colleagues in your group. "That helps you get the experience and takes some pressure off of your boss by not having so many direct reports," she said.
You could also ask to sit in on managerial meetings and ask questions to get involved. "Fake it 'til you make and the more you do it the more you become it."
If you find you're missing skills required for the role, don't despair. You don't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to go back and get an advanced degree. Sometimes all you need is a certification program or additional experience. Try upping your human relation skills with a certification that can land you above entry-level duties like from the HR Certification Institute.
If you want to get on the manager track you can get Project Management Institute certification that will help you stand out from the crow and increase your salary. If you're more of a creative thinker you could become LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) in architecture and interior design.
Develop your elevator pitch.
Package your selling points into an "elevator pitch" so that when you are in an interview or at a networking event, it's clear what you bring to the table. "Highlight the skills that fit the role you want," said Salemi. "Think of it like a tweet" where you have to express your feelings and thoughts in limited phrasing.
Or try the friend test: Give them your pitch and see where they start to doze off. Have them repeat it back to you and you'll see what sticks. People have limited attention spans, so less is more.
Networking events also offer a great opportunity to practice your pitch so you can perfect it before you interview for a new position—or a new job. When a potential employer or manager asks why you should get the job, you can be ready with an answer. "Until you define what value you bring, no one else is going to know," said Salemi.