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Study: Seattle, Boston Top U.S. Metro Areas for STEM Professionals

With growing demand nationwide for professionals with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education (the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 9% growth in U.S. STEM jobs by 2028), those looking into a STEM career will have a lot to choose from.

But where in the U.S. will the most STEM jobs be available, where will they pay the most, and where will the STEM educated fit best?

Personal finance website WalletHub in late January compared the 100 largest metro areas in America across 21 metrics, to determine where those looking for a STEM-related career can expect the best opportunities.

Seattle came out on top as the No. 1 city for STEM jobs, ranking first in professional opportunities, eighth for STEM-friendliness, and 19th for quality of life. Boston, Austin, Atlanta and Pittsburgh rounded out the top five, with San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C., Madison, Wisc., Minneapolis and San Diego filling in the rest of the top 10.

No. 2 Boston took home the No. 1 rank in the STEM-friendliness friendliness category, while Dayton, Ohio (No. 27) was No. 1 in the quality of life ranking. Los Angeles ended up ranked No. 22 overall, with a No. 60 ranking for professional opportunities, four for STEM-friendliness, and 57 for quality of life. New York ranked No. 42 overall (and Nos. 63, 7 and 79, respectively). The San Jose area ranked No. 1 in highest percentage of the workforce in STEM.

Several STEM educators weighed in on the results with WalletHub.

“Broadening the participation of women and minorities in STEM is a national priority because of increasing demands for STEM talents, changing national demographics, and equity; it requires a systemic approach from government, employers and educators,” said Dr. Xiufeng Liu, a professor of science education and STEM expert at the University at Buffalo. He said the government needs to increase investment in K-16 STEM education and STEM workforce development.

“Promoting a national vision for future STEM education, such as the current Next Generation Science Standards, is also necessary to ensure minimum STEM learning standards for all students while autonomy and individual development are also valued,” he said. “For employers, they should first and foremost create an inclusive working environment and equitable reward system for employees of all backgrounds. They need also to actively form a partnership with education sectors to create specific opportunities for recruitment and development of women and minorities for STEM workforce.”

Lynnette Michaluk, research assistant professor for West Virginia University, said that while the U.S. may lead in wages for STEM jobs, the country does not lead the world in attracting and retaining the best STEM professionals, and that’s due to deficiencies in early STEM education.

“Perhaps the most obvious example is in computer science (CS) education,” she said. “The U.S. education system is currently facing calls to increase the number of students earning CS degrees and the quality of CS education. Yet in the U.S. as of 2020, only 19 states have policies requiring that all high school students have access to CS; of those, only 8 include all K-12 students, and many schools cannot offer CS due of lack of qualified teachers.”