What is STEM? What is CTE

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. CTE stands for Career and Technical Education. Most careers and real-world problems are multi-disciplinary. STEM/CTE introduces students to career pathways and provides core academic, employability, and technical skills.


  • It allows you to work in a challenging, rewarding career with the opportunity to make a difference.
  • Those with bachelor's degrees in STEM/CTE make an average of $14,000 more per year than those with a non-STEM/CTE degree. Over a lifetime, STEM/CTE majors make $300,000 more than non-STEM/CTE majors.
  • In 2013, the top ten college degrees by highest starting salaries were all STEM/CTE-related.
  • The National Science Foundation estimates 80% of jobs in the next decade will require math and science knowledge.
  • Non-STEM fields increasingly require STEM/CTE skills (source).

Beyond Bridge Building

Sometimes when people think about STEM/CTE, the first thing that comes to mind is building bridges, whether it's students working with popsicle sticks, or engineers in hard hats working with steel beams. While building a bridge is a STEM/CTE activity, you may be surprised to discover just how many different STEM/CTE activities and careers there are out in the world that don't have anything to do with bridges! For example, here is a short list of STEM/CTE-related careers:

Veterinarian * Forester * Architect * Graphic Designer * Investment Banker * Cryptographer * Physician * Pastry Chef * Zookeeper * Massage Therapist * Webmaster * Video Game Designer * Firefighter * Auto Mechanic * Wind Turbine Service Technician * NOAA Research Vessel Crewmember

To see more examples, download a llst of STEM/CTE Careers

Ask a Scientist?

Sometimes, university departments or individual researchers get emails from young students (or their parents) who are looking for answers to questions for school projects. Sometimes, interviewing an expert is part of an assignment for school. The article: "So you need questions answered about space" from The Planetary Society has some great tips and suggestions for how and when to contact researchers for help.

Interviewing an expert for a school assignment?

Read This First

What Do STEM and CTE Have in Common? 

Both connect education to careers!  For more information about shared outcomes, educational approaches and careers, download a PDF