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It’s the big question.

What do you want to be when you grow up? For many children, the question is filled with promise. But for those in disadvantaged communities, it often brings only silence.

Children in underserved, low-income, and low-resource communities have limited exposure to the ideas, opportunities, and role models from which professional dreams and STEM-focused careers are built. It’s a simple truth. To be it, you must see it.

In partnership with community organizations and businesses throughout Northeast Ohio, the NeoSTEM Ecosystem has launched DreamSTEM, an initiative geared to raise individual and community awareness of the many STEM careers available in our region, and to develop accessible pathways to them. The ultimate goal of DreamSTEM is to increase the numbers of Black and Brown students entering STEM disciplines and professions.

DreamSTEM is the umbrella program for a number of connected initiatives, including:

  • An awareness-building campaign to elevate the importance of STEM through both traditional messaging and grassroots community outreach, including social media, fliers posted at local businesses, and billboards.
  • Developed career pathways spanning from pre-K to college with specific, tangible, and comprehensive curriculums, including both in-school and out-of-school programs, to follow for selected careers.
  • A STEM mentorship program connecting students with advisors, and offering professional development opportunities and a teacher externship program.


STEM careers pay more than non-STEM professions.

  • Like 26% more, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

STEM careers offer flexibility, room for growth.

  • STEM is about creativity and being able to bring it to different settings.

STEM careers are creative.

  • You work to solve problems drawing on your imagination and coupling that with the tangible knowledge and skills that STEM also provides.

STEM careers are hugely in demand.

  • STEM jobs have been growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs.
  • More than 2.5 million STEM jobs are unfilled at any point in the United States.

People of Color and Women are grossly under-represented in STEM. 

  • 16% of the STEM workforce is made up of Blacks and Hispanics.
  • 29% of the STEM workforce is made up of women.
  • 55% of the STEM workforce is white men.

This needs to change.

How To Pursue a Career in STEM

After-School STEM Experiences in Northeast Ohio

There is no single right path to follow to pursue STEM opportunities. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the experiences. 

It could be a program where you build robots or kites or even bicycles. It’s just critical to stay engaged.

If you’re engaged, you will learn. And the whole goal is to develop a love of STEM – any facet of it. 

There are countless opportunities for experiencing STEM in Northeast Ohio in out-of-school time settings. 

Some of these opportunities are catalogued and searchable by Zip Code on



The online tool, Tallo, is free and enables you to keep track of your work, classroom and out-of-school experiences and then colleges and employers will reach out to you with appropriate opportunities.

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Pursuing STEM in Northeast Ohio After High School

Numerous organizations in Northeast Ohio have tremendous resources to help guide your post-secondary experiences. 

College Now, which offers counseling and a variety of supports for students and their families, has compiled a comprehensive database of post-high school options. Visit College Now to learn more and sign up. 

Across the country, STEM professions are projected to grow faster, provide greater earning potential, and produce lower rates of unemployment than non-STEM jobs over the next decade. As technology and digitalization continues to transform our world, almost every industry does or will require some STEM skills to remain competitive.

STEM training provides individuals diverse and marketable skills which have utility across a variety of careers. The economy not only relies on STEM professionals, but a broad understanding of STEM concepts. Students can enter any profession in a better position with the analytical reasoning and critical thinking skills developed through STEM education. 

Numerous organizations have compiled resources showing pathways to pursue STEM professions:

Ohio Means Jobs has created The STEM Career Lab where you can explore various STEM occupations, view videos of professionals in the field and learn what it takes to prepare for different STEM jobs. 

Ohio Means Jobs has a Youth Resource Center offering career coaching, training, and tutoring to advance your job skills, job search assistance, and connections to needed community resources and programs. 

The U.S. Department of Labor has mapped STEM professions, with projected salaries, in a fun table.

MAGNET has developed the Cuyahoga County Manufacturing Career Exploration website where you can explore various manufacturing careers and take a look at what they require as well as expected salaries.

The following is an overview of STEM-related professions and average annual salaries in Ohio provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Computer and Mathematical Operations 57,530 $82,830
Architecture and Engineering 90,810 $77,270
Life and Physical Sciences 39,450 $72,530
Educational Instruction and Libraries 304,330 $60,180
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations 364,510 $78,670
Healthcare Support Occupations 224,560 $30,890
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations 4,950 $36,440
Construction and Extraction Occupations 178,900 $53,130
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Operations 208,290 $49,600
Production/Manufacturing Occupations 464,130 $40,960
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TEAM NEO has compiled profiles of in-demand professions, including steps that can be taken to enter various professions.

Visit TEAM NEO and its profiles of in-demand professions where you can also see information about average salaries, education requirements, and watch videos from young professionals sharing the pathways they took as they were searching for the right careers.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, median earnings for full-time, year-round workers ages 25 and older in a STEM job were about $77,400. The comparable median for workers in other, non-STEM occupations was $46,900.

According to WalletHub, seven Ohio cities rank in the top 100 nationwide for STEM professionals:

  • No. 11: Dayton
  • No. 13: Cincinnati
  • No. 20: Columbus
  • No. 54: Cleveland
  • No. 67: Akron
  • No. 80: Youngstown
  • No. 95: Toledo

According to OhioMeansJobs, there are 204,408 open positions in Ohio, with 113,693 carrying an annual salary of more than $50,000. A majority of those open positions – and the highest paying ones – are STEM-related positions.

According to the Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transition, eight of the top 10 “hot jobs” are in STEM fields – health care and programming, specifically – and virtually all of the “hot jobs” require STEM education.

What is STEM?

There is no single accepted definition of STEM. In fact, the very acronym is not universally accepted. Some use STEM, while others use STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Some view STEM or STEAM as a set of skills. Others see STEM and STEAM as much more of a mindset that trains people to embrace iteration and innovation. 

The NeoSTEM Ecosystem sees STEM and STEAM as synonymous, and recognizes how integral the arts are to advancement and innovation. In fact, the NeoSTEM Ecosystem has adopted holistic definitions of STEM and STEAM and sees both acronyms as mindsets and not just a flat set of skills. Fully cognizant of the power of STEM to improve lives and communities, NeoSTEM’s definition of STEM and STEAM are intentionally broad to help ensure that students gain the critical thinking, leadership, communication, social and computational skills needed to maximize their training in science, technology, engineering and math. The NeoSTEM Ecosystem thus embraces the arts and humanities as critical components of STEM.

STEM is a teaching philosophy that integrates all four disciplines together into a single, cross-disciplinary program which makes connections to real-world applications. The act of doing STEM supports the development of students’ 21st century skills while they master specific content and knowledge. 

Over the last several decades, the term “STEM” has become commonplace. Once associated with “stem cells” or plants, many have come to realize that STEM is a term with close connections to the economic vitality of our state, and the prosperity of our residents. STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, is actually much more than a narrow set of skills. STEM is also a mindset, one that drives needed innovation while fueling key industries.