7 Unusual Careers with a STEM Degree | Top Universities

7 Unusual Careers with a STEM Degree

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Sabrina Collier

Updated Jul 06, 2023



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Are you a STEM graduate (that is, a graduate of a science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree)? If you are, you might be wondering what else you can do with your degree beyond the typical career paths. Here are some out-of-the-box suggestions if following the crowd isn’t for you…


Ideal for engineering or technology STEM graduates, if you’re creative and want to combine this with being an engineer, you might like to consider “Imagineering” – the implementation of highly imaginative, creative ideas into practical forms. The term was made famous by Disney, whose imagineers create immersive entertainment attractions for theme parks and resorts.
If you’re a fan of theme parks and would jump at the chance to design the next area of the Magic Kingdom, try to secure an internship with Disney to build your experience and get a taste of this line of work – you can find out more here. Disneyland imagineers earn an average of US$62,000 per year, according to CareerBliss.

Rollercoaster engineer

Speaking of theme parks, another unusual STEM career path lies in designing the rollercoasters themselves, a role which combines mechanical, structural, civil and electrical engineering, as well as physics. As a rollercoaster engineer, you’ll need to consider key factors such as safety, environment and riders’ enjoyment. And yes, you will get to ride your creation before it opens to the public. This is a very competitive career, so you’ll need to network and build contacts with big names to help break in to the industry. Rollercoaster engineers earn an average of $84,190 in the US according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (figures are for mechanical engineers). 

Patent attorney

Did you almost pick law over your STEM degree? If you’ve got an interest in legal dealings and want to combine this with your science or engineering knowledge, you might like to consider becoming a patent attorney. Patent attorneys advise their clients on whether their product is new, innovative, and suitable to be patented. You’ll lead your client, which may be an individual or a company, through the process of obtaining a patent and work to enforce their rights if patents are infringed. You’ll need a good grade in a science or technology degree to be eligible to train for this role, which is a protected title in the UK (meaning you’ll need to be fully qualified and entered on the Register of Patent Attorneys to use the title). Patent attorneys earn an average of £50,218 in the UK and $135,014 in the US, according to PayScale.

Music machine learning engineer

Next on our list of unusual careers with a STEM degree is a role which allows you to combine a love of music with your knack for technology. Machine learning engineers apply machine learning methods to large data sets to personalize and optimize the services of online music services such as iTunes Radio and Spotify. You’ll work through massive amounts of data, something which requires strong data engineering skills, and you’ll also prototype new algorithms and optimize solutions. The average salary of machine learning engineers in the US is $107,373 per year.

Storm tracker

If you’re fascinated by different weather phenomena such as tornados and thunderstorms, you might be interested in this branch of meteorology. Although the job title probably makes you think of adrenaline junkies driving into storms to capture dramatic photos and videos, this role is a lot safer than it sounds. You’ll study the science of storms, using computer programs to gather scientific data on extreme weather occurrences. Storm trackers (atmospheric scientists) earn an average of $89,820 a year in the US.

Ethical hacker

With so many negative hacking stories in the news these days, the word ‘hacker’ has gained some pretty negative connotations. But, if you’re skilled in computer systems and interested in using your skills for good, the role of an ethical hacker might be for you. As an ethical hacker, you’ll knowingly try to hack a company’s computer network in order to help them identify and fix potential security problems. To become an ethical hacker, you’ll need extensive experience with computer systems, as well as problem-solving and communication skills. Ethical hackers earn around £50,000 in the UK and $71,331 in the US.

Robotics engineer

Concluding our look at unusual careers you can do with a STEM degree, how about designing robots to explore the ocean floor (or even the floor of another planet), or creating mechanical arms to work on the production line of car manufacturing? As robots become increasingly common, demand for robotics engineers will in turn become greater. As well as designing and maintaining robots, you’ll also develop new applications for your robots and conduct research to expand their potential. Robotics engineers earn an average of $80,395 in the US.

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