@Mike Dang : It looks like my link-ful comments are stuck in approval hell or something, but anyway, there's lots of useful data on the Census Bureau site. They're very good about publishing interesting digests of their datasets; there's an item just up that surveys the careers of STEM graduates -- as it turns out, 74% (!!!) of STEM graduates are working in non-STEM fields. The paper and associated visualization are really well-done.
@Theestablishment : The other side of this is that 74% of those with a bachelor's degree in a STEM field are not employed in STEM fields.* That means actively employed in non-STEM fields, not unemployed. ;) Additionally, when people with terminal STEM bachelor's degrees go into other fields, they don't appear to outearn employees in the same field with non-STEM terminal bachelor's degrees.** For my own curiosity, I may spend some time crunching the datasets for professional and doctorate degree-holders, to see if there's any additional earning by either group when going cross-discipline with a post-undergrad degree. * Per the Census Bureau's 2012 statistics : https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/employment_occupations/cb14-130.html Here is a nice visualization of the data : https://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/stem/stem-html/ ** https://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/056/
@Mike Dang : It appears that way. A couple of additional points related to this dataset : 1. The people represented in this data all have "terminal" bachelor's degrees -- ie, that's their highest level of educational achievement -- so we weed out liberal-arts majors who went on to be lawyers or doctors (the Census Bureau classifies these as "professional degrees"). As one might expect, liberal-arts majors close the lifetime-earnings gap between themselves and engineering majors as soon as they achieve one of these professional degrees, mostly because physicians and surgeons make serious $$$, regardless of their undergrad background. Oddly, engineers appear to make way more money as lawyers than do liberal-arts majors. ( see https://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/data/acs/infographics/liberal.html and https://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/education/data/acs/infographics/engineering.html for some nice visualizations ) 2. A career in education is the great leveler. No matter your undergrad major, if you have a terminal bachelor's and your career path is in education, your choice of major makes virtually no difference in lifetime earnings.
@Gef the Talking Mongoose : I fucking love the Census Bureau. Mike, here is your new starting point for a followup article. https://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/056/ (spoiler : Among full-time workers whose highest attainment is a bachelor's degree, liberal-arts majors who get science jobs make about $400,000 more on average over the course of their lives than those who got arts-and-media-related jobs. That's roughly 17% more, which is pretty impressive. As always, see the raw data for interesting caveats.)
Whenever I see this sort of earnings / degree breakdown, I always wonder if the data implies that "field of study" == "field of employment". Are those liberal-arts degree-holders actually employed in their field of study or are they political-science majors who now do so much programming work that they reflexively use "==" to indicate equality, cough cough? Time for a deep dive into the Census Bureau data!
Ester : Of course, I have a book recommendation! Back in 1965, a fellow named Roy Hartkopf wrote the best single math book I've ever read, titled "Math Without Tears". I recommend it to everyone, without reservations. In it, Hartkopf covers basically all the core aspects of higher math (complex numbers, derivatives, etc.). It requires no mathematical background, there are no problem sets, and it is a pleasure to read, but it absolutely will make you familiar with higher math. Pick up a used copy, and if you're like me you'll read each chapter twice -- first quickly, to get the structure of it, and second, more slowly, to work through the thought process he's laid out on the page. It's a very idiosyncratic work (imaginary numbers are taught in the first chapter!) but you will come away with much more than just a casual understanding of math and "mathematical thinking".
@Ester Bloom : I also have many feelings about this, and am also in the "used to hate math, now love math" group. I will un-yadda my experience for you. A couple of years ago, I went back to school part-time to do the prerequisites for an engineering-style BSc. I knew I'd have to take math (higher math!), and I knew I was going to hate it. I wasn't bad at math in high school -- I went up through AP Calculus, after all -- but I didn't enjoy it. It was rote, mechanical application of equations and theorems that seemed like they'd been passed down on stone tablets from some math Moses. As soon as I stopped using them, the theorems went right out of my head because they didn't really mean anything. They were just tools for solving problems, and if you could remember what tool to use, you could solve a problem. So I signed up for Calc I at the community college where I'd been taking courses, and ... it was great. Our professor taught math as something to be thought about, rather than just as something to be done, and that made all the difference. She had two techniques, which I will share with you. Her first technique (which I later recognized in the few really good math books I've read) was to teach every new concept three times, all the way through each time : once in standard mathematical notation with a derivation as needed, once visually as a graph or animation, and once as applied to a concrete problem. Her experience had been that most students learn best through only one of these approaches, and a student (at least at Calc I level) has to see it "their way" in order to learn it correctly. Most importantly, this also means that the student sees it the other two ways, and becomes familiar with translating from one to the other ... which, of course, is what someone who "thinks mathematically" has learned to do. Her second technique was to introduce each new theorem or concept not as an entity in and of itself, but rather as the product of a (historical) process. So, let's say we were being introduced to L'Hôpital's rule -- she'd sketch out what the state of mathematical knowledge was at the time, and why L'Hôpital was interested in a certain problem, and then go on to work through the sequence of operations he used to extend previous work, and only then did she present the finished theorem. This was exactly opposite from what I'd seen in high school (theorem first, followed by its derivation) and was much more intuitive, as well as pretty closely replicating the experience of how mathematicians work. So, tl;dr, but in high school, it was a bit like we were handed a toolbox full of tools and taught "you use a screwdriver for this job, and you use a hammer for this job" etc. etc. In this class, by contrast, we were learning more than just matching the right tool to the right job -- we were learning how to think about tools and jobs in the abstract, and how to build tools when we needed them ... which is exactly what mathematicians do. It was a very concrete exposure to what it means to really do math, rather than to just solve problems, and it absolutely made me a "math person".
This was excellent, and I have lots of thoughts about it. Most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to post the following link to one of my favorite commercials of all time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdIJOE9jNcM
@Ester Bloom : Considering how many shootings are justified by "but he was going after my gun!", I'm OK with this. I mean, if police are so concerned about the apparent epidemic of people charging at them and trying to grab their guns, perhaps they should figure out some place they can put their guns where that won't be a problem.
@Tripleoxer : That's basically how it worked out with me, yeah. I believe that the $130 covers glasses or contacts for the year, but I don't have the benefits info right here. I should look into that, come to think of it.