Top 10 Careers in STEM (with salaries)

Top 10 Careers in STEM (with salaries)
SEEK content teamupdated on 13 February, 2024

STEM careers have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years. Considering how the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics seem set to keep growing for the foreseeable future, STEM offers a promising career path for analytical thinkers. 

If you’re curious about a career in STEM, you might be wondering what the options are for graduates in these areas. Perhaps you’re considering a STEM-related degree or you’re a graduate in the first stages of plotting your career plan. In this guide, we cover the top STEM occupations and the average salary for these professions in Australia, with expected qualifications and experiences.

Science-based careers

Science is a broad field, with a huge range of possible STEM occupations to choose from. You may want to work with animals as a zoologist or in CO2 capture as a climate scientist. You could be a psychologist, an archaeologist or a bioscientist working on gene therapy. Astronomy, chemical engineering and epidemiology are also science-based professional fields. If you have a naturally inquisitive mind, a science career might be for you. 


Marine biology, biosecurity, botany – a degree in bioscience opens up pathways to these STEM careers and more. The range of options for graduates is vast, so salaries and qualifications for roles also vary greatly. Some roles in biology-related fields involve weeks of remote field work, while a research fellow in biological sciences would spend the majority of their time doing desk work at a university. Life sciences offer a stable career path in Australia, with the nation’s biotech sector alone growing 40% in the last two years. 

Typically, either a general or specialist degree in biology is the best qualification to pursue to land these kinds of STEM careers. Experience is beneficial, but many research institutions will be willing to recruit young graduates too.

Average salary: depends on the specialisation. An entry-level marine biologist might start at $40,000, while a senior conservation scientist might make around $100,000. The highest paying biology degree jobs are those in medicine, with general physicians (GP) earning $250,000 to upwards of $500,000 per annum, depending on their location. 

Environmental scientist 

As conservation and sustainability become bigger priorities for governments and public companies, environmental advisors are becoming more in demand. As a consultant or advisor, you could choose to work in the public or private sector, with job options in oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, waste reduction, conservation, natural resources and more.  

A bachelor's degree in science, with a major in environmental science, biotechnology or chemistry, is the typical route to a career as an environmental advisor. Senior advisory roles would require post-graduate qualifications, like a master of research in science or a PhD program in a specialisation. 

Average salary: it depends on the specialisation and company, but an environmental consultant could earn from $90,000 to $200,000+.

Research scientist 

A research scientist works in a particular specialisation, which could be in any field of science. It’s a role that requires investigation, experimentation and the measurement and analysis of information. Some research scientists work in R&D (research and development) in commercial industries, while others work in academia. Some examples of research fields are pharmacology, cell biology, astrophysics, food technology, biochemistry and geoscience.

Research scientists have an exciting range of options in STEM careers. You could work at ANSTO in nuclear sciences or at a multinational like Unilever, researching chemical compounds for commercial use. The qualifications for a research scientist vary depending on the field and the role – a science degree and postgraduate studies would be the minimum requirements for most positions. 

Average salary: depending on the specialisation and role, $80,000 – $100,000+.  

2. Technology careers

The technology sector holds a huge amount of promise in terms of STEM careers. IT graduates can get into fields like cyber-security, AI, automation, VR and game design. App and website development are both popular areas that only show signs of growth, offering IT occupations with stability that can be done remotely. Given the nature of tech, there are also new roles emerging, so IT graduates committed to continued learning can enjoy job security and command high salaries. 

Examples of STEM careers in IT include data analytics, IT support, developer, systems engineers and IT project managers and product owners. To kick off a career in IT you will need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a diploma in information technology, information systems or software engineering. There are many different educational pathways into IT and not all of them require a three-year degree. 

Data analyst 

With increased reliance on technology comes higher demand for data analysts, who are able to interpret raw data. Data analysts help businesses by finding trends and patterns in data, making predictions and then recommending strategies for greater efficiency. They might look at consumer data for an ecommerce site and identify pain points for customers, or they might look at a shipping company’s logistics data and recommend different routes.

There are no formal degree requirements to become a data analyst, but employers may favour computer science or business graduates. You must be talented with numbers and will need to know programming languages to create statistical models. 

Average salary: $75,000 – $110,000 per annum. 

Software developer 

Software developer is another STEM profession that offers a wide range of opportunities for graduates. With proficiency in coding languages, you can work for virtually any business with their own IT team – or you might prefer to freelance and work remotely. Top software developers can enjoy well-paid positions in one of the FAANG companies or enjoy an exciting career working for app and tech startups. 

A diploma or degree in computer science or web development is a good starting point for this role, though some people enter the field through online and self-taught coding. While software developers work alone much of the time, it’s still worth building out soft skills to complement technical abilities and help with collaboration and client service.

Average salary: salaries depend on the employer and the seniority of the role. A junior software developer in Australia might start at around $75,000, while an elite developer for Amazon in a major US city could earn up to a million dollars a year. 

IT support technician 

You don’t need to be a gifted coder to access STEM occupations in tech. If you are generally good with computers and enjoy solving problems, you might like being an IT support technician. This role involves helping people, whether in person or online, with their computer and software problems. That could mean troubleshooting software issues, setting up systems in a business, supporting office staff within an organisation or physically repairing computer hardware.

To get a job as an IT technician, it helps to complete a computer science degree or diploma, though it’s not mandatory. Many IT technicians will gain relevant experience through on-the-job training. Being able to problem solve and think critically is essential. 

Average salary: $55,000 – $90,000

3. Engineering careers

STEM occupations in engineering cover a wide range of sectors. Engineering roles exist across the job landscape: in tech, mining, medicine, government and defence, and more. Engineering, broadly, is related to designing and building machines or systems for a particular function. For example, a rail engineer would apply their technical skills and knowledge to design and maintain trains and railway systems to be efficient. A civil engineer plans out urban infrastructure – roads, parks, city zones and public spaces.

To get a job as an engineer, you will need a bachelor’s in engineering, majoring in your preferred specialisation (biomedical, civil, environmental, computer, electrical, telecommunications, etc). Subject matter expertise is essential to being an engineer in any field.

Chemical engineer 

chemical engineer creates and maintains industrial processes, utilising their knowledge in maths, physics and biology. For instance, they can work in oil refinement, food processing, pharmaceuticals and mining. In Australia, a chemical engineer could work on a wide variety of consumer products, like fertilisers, wine or medicine. They also often help to streamline workflows and create efficiencies for large manufacturing plants. 

To become a chemical engineer, you’d need a bachelor’s in engineering with a focus on chemical engineering and your sub-discipline (food science, biotech, nuclear, etc.).

Average salary: engineer salaries depend on the role and level. A graduate chemical engineer can expect to start on around $70,000 per annum. A petrochemical engineer at a remote mining site might earn up to $250,000 with a relocation fee. 

Civil engineer 

civil engineer plans and designs urban and environmental infrastructure. Bridges, roads, airports, hospitals, parks – they’re all projects overseen by a civil engineer in the urban planning sector. They work with private construction clients as well as governments and even non-profit organisations. Engineers Without Borders is an example of a non-profit in Australia, where engineers work on projects that improve water, sanitation and hygiene in disadvantaged communities. 

To become a fully qualified engineer in Australia, you must complete a four-year bachelor of engineering degree with honours in civil engineering. Within civil engineering there are sub-disciplines like environmental engineering, transportation engineering, surveying and construction engineering, that qualify you to enter your specialty. 

Average salary: engineer salaries depend on the role and level, from $75,000 – $150,000.

Mechanical engineer 

mechanical engineer works with energy-producing machines and systems. They apply their expertise to things like electric generators, wind turbines, motor engines, air-conditioning and so on. They could also apply their skills to some jobs of the future, like nanotech, mechatronics and robotics. 

To become a mechanical engineer, complete a bachelor of engineering with a focus on mechanical and mechatronic engineering. You can then register with Australia’s peak body for engineers and join the National Engineering Register (NER).

Average salary: there’s a wide range of roles for mechanical engineers, with $75,000 – $150,000 being the expected salary range. 

4. Mathematics

STEM professions for maths majors have a high degree of crossover with those in science, engineering and technology. If you have a maths degree, you can often use it to gain entry into any of the STEM fields, which are all fundamentally rooted in mathematics. You can be a data scientist, chemist, aerospace engineer, web developer, maths or physics academic and more. 


Statisticians, a little like data analysts, analyse numerical information to identify trends and predict outcomes. The difference is that they don’t use computer programmes, they use calculus and algebra to create mathematical models to reach conclusions. Another difference is that data scientists also visualise data to be able to present their findings to their stakeholders – like a company CEO or a team leader – so it’s useful for a statistician to also be able to present data in a way that non-mathematicians can understand.

To become a statistician, complete a bachelor of statistics, mathematics or science, then choose electives according to your preferences. For support and to stay up to date in the field, consider joining the Statistical Society of Australia.

Average salary: around $88,000, depending on the company and role

Most careers in STEM in Australia offer stability and higher-than-average salaries. As with any role, technical ability and knowledge need to be balanced by sound soft skills, especially in communication and collaboration. By pairing well-developed transferable skills with STEM qualifications, graduates enjoy a wide variety of exciting career paths to choose from, across a vast range of industries, sectors and locations. 

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