STEAM vs STEM

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: February 2, 2022  •  4 min read  •  Education
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

A very common acronym in the education world is STEM. It stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This type of learning will put an emphasis on developing skills in these four key areas. Students will develop skills, such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

The approach to STEM learning is research-oriented. Students learn to do research and use the knowledge they have gained. It’s not just learning by memorizing facts.

STEAM vs STEM: The Difference

The difference is found not just in one letter when looking at STEAM vs STEM. It’s found in the approach to scientific concepts, as well.

STEM tends to focus on the hard scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematics skills to create a new concept and drive progress. With STEAM, students use both hard and soft skills to help them solve problems.

STEAM encourages collaboration to help students better understand a STEM concept. By using the arts, STEAM provides tools, such as fine art imagery and data visualization to help students better understand technology, science, and math.

STEM is the standard concept for learning, while STEAM is a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. Many STEAM professionals create new products or take complicated data and make it much easier to understand. It tends to be more creative compared to STEM.

STEM Careers

There is a rather large shortage of STEM workers in the United States. Companies need workers with STEM expertise. Due to this shortage and the demand, employment opportunities are expected to grow by far more than the average growth rate over the next ten years. There is an even higher rise in the need for statisticians and mathematicians.

STEM careers are varied and there are many of them out there. If a student is trained in STEM fields, they will likely earn a higher salary. According to Indeed.com, the highest paying STEM careers include:

All of these STEM careers have an average annual salary above $100K. Many other STEM careers also pay a very high salary.

STEAM Careers

There are many different STEAM careers available. The careers include options, such as architect, graphic designer, product designer, archeologist, sound engineer, and urban planner. There are many careers that require interdisciplinary collaboration.

Many employers are seeking those with STEAM education. They understand how important it is for students to gain creative skills and collaboration skills.

While STEM careers may be broad, they are not as broad as STEAM careers. The list of STEAM careers is rather long with many different options across several industries.

Some of the career options you might qualify with a STEAM education include:

For the most part, STEAM covers all of the potential STEM careers and more. The added arts element offers many new opportunities. Plus, employers looking for STEM individuals may be even more impressed with STEAM education.

STEAM vs STEM: Is One Better Than the Other?

STEAM and STEM may seem similar, but they really aren’t. One may be better than the other for you. They both provide plenty of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEAM offers options in the art industry.

While it’s easy to think STEAM is better than STEM, it also depends on your career goals, individual skills, and interests. You want to choose an option that fits with your needs.

Soft skills have become more valuable in the workplace, however. The soft skills taught through STEAM offer the ability to work on more complex projects. Learning skills, such as collaboration, leadership, and communication can also help with career advancement.

Those planning to go into a more professional career may consider STEAM to be a better fit. It really comes down to your personal preference and needs for the career you prefer.

If you want a more hands-on approach and you want to take on more critical roles, STEAM will give you the soft skills you need. However, there are plenty of opportunities in the workforce for those with STEM education. The STEAM vs STEM debate will likely continue, regardless of which one is right for you.

It’s not an easy decision with both educational options providing excellent career opportunities. Before making your decision, consider what type of career you prefer and which will fit best for that career. Both may work just fine, but STEAM may be better for STEM for some career options.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!