Entering STEM Fields Gives Graduates the Career Advantage

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If you enjoy forensic science, chemistry lessons that have a real-world purpose, new inventions and engineering concepts, or even have a casual interest in television’s varied crime scene investigation dramas, a degree in one of several Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) programs could be the fresh career start you envision.

These new NICC programs do more than train you to work a full-time job, punch a time clock and get a paycheck that gets you out of bed every day; NICC graduates of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs can look forward to a new day in great-paying, rewarding, professional and meaningful careers close to home. Several new NICC programs are providing students with the advanced training they need to excel in school and in their future careers.

The Laboratory Science Technician (formerly Chemical Technician) program at the NICC Calmar campus prepares students for careers in research and experimental laboratories with private companies, government agencies, universities and hospitals. Graduates have an opportunity for specialization in the fields of food processing, production of drugs, or renewable energy. Graduates may also transfer their credits to four-year colleges that offer degrees, including forensic science.

Another new program, Associate of Applied Science-Industrial Maintenance Technician at the Peosta campus, trains students to repair and maintain all aspects of technologically-advanced workplace environments, from boiler systems to basic electrical circuitry.

There are compelling reasons for students of all ages, male and female, to become graduates in STEM field education: employers in northeast Iowa need employees with this science skill-set and knowledge base. Labor agencies cite recent employment research on skilled worker needs in STEM fields as an example (see chart below for salary information).

“Here in Iowa our most active economic sectors heavily depend on a robust STEM talent pool. Most of Iowa’s high demand occupations for the period 2008-2018 are in the STEM fields of information technology, financial systems, medical science and advanced manufacturing…Iowa’s STEM employment sector is projected to grow more and pay better than any other job sector through 2018.”
Iowa Workforce Development, 2011

Laboratory Science Technician graduates can look forward to a State of Iowa median annual salary of $40,620 and Industrial Maintenance Technician grads can expect to earn $46,960 after completing these high-tech programs.

NICC also offers STEM education for our area’s middle and high school students. Are you a young learner and interested in STEM careers? Project Lead the Way courses are offered throughout the year for students at the Regional Academy for Math and Science (RAMS)/Oelwein Center in Oelwein. The facility includes three traditional classrooms, two science labs, one fully-networked computer lab, one Project Lead the Way lab and an Iowa Communications Network classroom. RAMS seeks to increase the STEM skills among young students and provides a full range of NICC credit, non-credit and professional development offerings for area community members of all ages and educational goals.

“As long as chemistry is studied, there will be a periodic table. And even if someday we communicate with another part of the universe, we can be sure that one thing both cultures will have in common is an ordered system of the elements that will be instantly recognizable by both intelligent life forms.” – John Emsley, Nature’s building blocks: an A-Z guide to the elements

In addition to Oelwein schools, other participating Project Lead the Way schools include Starmont, West Central, Wapsi Valley, Kee High at Lansing, Western Dubuque and West Delaware. Cresco High School will begin the program next fall, along with Waukon and North Fayette, pending grant acceptance.

If you want to get serious about science, technology and promising local careers in STEM fields, Northeast Iowa Community College has a variety of solutions and possibilities in mind for you. Consider a new career pathway that embraces science and technology fields!

For more information, visit www.nicc.edu/collegeprograms.

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