STEM Fields – Discover your best bet for landing a job in Iowa’s changing economy

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Obtaining a college degree remains one of the most important things you can do to increase your income potential and decrease your likelihood of being unemployed. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College,” young college graduates outperform their peers with less education on virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment. However, having a degree does not guarantee employment. Just as level of education impacts employment, so does your field of study.

In recent years, a number of technology-related companies have been established in Iowa, increasing the state’s need for workers trained in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and  Mathematics) related fields. In a Des Moines Register article, we see evidence that the arrival of incoming Iowa companies are creating more high paying jobs, and the demand for an educated workforce continues to grow with the arrival of companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google.

According to Iowa Workforce Development’s (IWD) Iowa’s Workforce and the Economy 2013 report, Iowa’s economy has shown improvement throughout the year 2012, adding more jobs and lowering the rate of unemployment. In addition, IWD projected that Iowa’s total occupational employment will increase by 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, particularly in STEM-related fields. Occupations expected to surpass the state’s annual growth rate within this ten-year time span include:

  • Computer and Mathematical
  • Healthcare Practitioner
  • Community and Social Services
  • Construction
  • Installation/Maintenance/Repair
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Transportation and Material Moving
  • Business and Financial
  • Arts/Entertainment/Media

A full list of these high-demand, high-salaried occupations are located on Iowa’s Hot 50 Jobs List.

With a high need for these technically-trained workers, more grants and scholarships have become available to assist Iowan’s in gaining the education needed to fill these gaps in the workforce.

The Kibbie Grant, for example, is funded through the state and provides tuition assistance to Iowa residents seeking an education in fields that have a skilled workforce shortage. Eligible applicants must be Iowa residents enrolled in a qualified program of study at an Iowa community college, and demonstrate financial need. Eligible programs of study include areas related to health, computer science/information technology, automotive, industrial technology, sustainable energy and more.

Many of the degrees or certificates needed for some of the state’s high demand occupations can be earned in two years or less. To learn more about colleges in Iowa that offer these programs as well as the Kibbie Grant and other scholarship opportunities, visit


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