Top 10 Non-STEM Career Options in 2021

STEM and non-STEM courses

STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the majors include Agriculture, Architecture, Biological & Biomedical Services, Communications Technology, Computer & Information Science, Engineering, Mathematics & Statistics, Natural Resources & Conservation, Physical Sciences, Science Technologies. On the other hand, non-STEM subjects or courses are Humanities, Arts, Literature and Management. STEM majors have become a buzz word among the student communities and also among the academics as they are believed to offer high-paying and sought-after careers. Students are often forced by parents to pursue a stream in STEM against their wish.

With the rising popularity of STEM, non-STEM courses often get less importance in the educational and industrial sector. It is important to understand that science, technology, engineering or math is not everyone’s cup of tea. And it is a misconception that you cannot make a good living without committing to STEM. There are high paying non-STEM career opportunities and students who pursue a higher degree typically get better earning opportunities.


STEM majors are extremely objective and have set criteria for the learning outcome. In fact, STEM is about detail-oriented results while non-STEM deals with human thinking and patterns. Liberal art courses are very broad and general and unlike STEM courses, they do not have precise technicalities to be followed.

STEM course is often believed to be relatively tougher because of its learning nature and syllabi; while non-STEM students are expected to have an ‘easier’ flow of learning. This inequitable comparison does not help high school leavers to determine their major. In reality, there isn’t any course that is more or less significant than the other.

Both STEM and non-STEM majors have equal intensity of difficulty and it should be up to the candidate to judge and decide whether he/she is able to pursue the course or not. Each course is unique and designed to nurture students to do their best in their own way. What is important to consider before opting for a course are the terms of subjects, exams and.

Job Prospects for non-STEM majors

In its 2018 study The Future of Jobs, the World Economic Foundation (WEF) identified the top ten skill demands in 2022 as (in order): analytical thinking and innovation; active learning and learning strategies; creativity, originality, and initiative; technology design and programming; critical thinking and analysis; complex problem solving; leadership and social influence; emotional intelligence; reasoning, problem-solving and ideation; and systems analysis and evaluation. Note that only two of those skills are directly related to STEM, and they are fairly far down the list. There are innumerable articles, blogs and books about what will be the growth sectors in the 2020s, and the consensus of opinion indicates that those sectors will be artificial intelligence, robotics, financial services (specifically e-commerce and blockchain), health care, professional services and social media. All of these sectors will require technical skills in some areas. However, all will also have functions that do not require those skills. Today’s functions will exist in the above sectors, including finance, human resources, sales, marketing and operations. (source – )

Non-STEM students can and do secure good job offers upon graduation. According to World Economic Forum emerging non-STEM job roles leveraging distinct human skills are customer service workers, sales and marketing professionals, training and development, people and culture, and organizational-development specialists, innovation managers etc. Students just have to make sure they possess deep interests in the course they’re opting for and the passion will directly drive them towards prospective future. Also for non-STEM students it is important to be active outside of the classroom setting and join social and curriculum activities to improve your soft skills. Besides, STEM graduates typically have fixed career options. Non-STEM majors like humanities, get diverse range of career opportunities where the skills and knowledge are made applicable.

Here are top 10 non-STEM Career Options in 2021

1. Psychology

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology is another three years Undergraduate program for students from Arts background, which involves the study of the human mind and human behaviour. During the program students get to learn the basic theories and applications related to Psychology and Psycho-analysis.

Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology

Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, emerging field, is the study of workplace behaviour and is about applying psychological principles to human resources, employee training, marketing and sales, and organizational development. I-O psychologists are known to apply research in order to escalate workplace productivity, selecting employees best suited for particular jobs, and product testing.

I-O psychologists mostly work in business sector in positions that are dedicated towards worker productivity, employee training, assessment, and human resources. They also work in research or academic positions. Specialty areas in I-O psychology also include human-computer interaction and human factors. Consulting opportunities are also available for experienced I-O psychologists. For better job opportunities and higher salary one must continue their education at the post grad level.

Salaries vary depending on type of degree held and type of employer. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), the average salaries for I-O psychologists in 2015 were $84,500 as starting salary for master’s graduate, $118,818 as starting median salary for doctoral graduate, $101,000 for academic and $113,000 for practitioners.

Job opportunities are really good for those having master’s degrees in fields like human resources, consulting, government, and positions in the private sector. The growing demand for I-O psychologists had led to an increase in the number of universities offering master’s degrees in I-O psychology. However, best opportunities and salaries are for those with doctorate degrees.

For those looking for a psychology career with a strong job outlook, I-O psychology just might be the ticket. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, industrial-organizational psychology is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing psychology fields between 2018 and 2028. The U.S. Labor Department reports that this field will grow by 13% during that time.

To pursue a degree in I-O psychology, considering the following factors are important –

  • Do you enjoy research?
  • Are you comfortable with statistics?

If the answers are in negative, I-O psychology might not be the best choice for you. If working one-on-one with people is what excites you, then clinical or counseling psychology is a better bet for you.

I-O psychology includess topics and skills from diverse areas of psychology like Personality psychology, social psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. If you like practical applications for psychological research, I-O Psychology is just the thing for you.

Career Prospects and Potential Job Roles in Psychology

Career Counsellor – Career counsellors access a student, or a professional, analyses the personalities, skills, aptitude, interest, intelligence level and related socio-economic factors to suggest best suitable choices and suggest ways to enhance career prospects. They also offer support to those having job related stress.

Clinical Psychologist –Clinical Psychology offers numerous specializations like substance abuse, health psychology, geriatrics, child or adult mental health, and post trauma therapies. Clinical psychologists work independently or join clinic, health centers or hospitals. MA or MSc in Psychology or Applied Psychology and a 2-year M Phil in Psychology is the minimum qualifications specified by the Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Counsellor – Counsellors offers support, consultation, techniques and therapies to people seeking help. Counselling connotes all kind of assistance that psychologists provide to those dealing issues like – career planning, difficult in handling the social issues, emotional problems, matrimonial or parenting crisis, divorce and domestic violence.

Forensic Psychologist – Forensic psychology is extensively used in criminal investigation and law cases, forensic psychology is an attractive career. Besides Psychology, Forensic Psychologists must know criminal and civil laws. A PhD in Psychology and degree in Criminology increases chances of being a successful in the field.

Industrial or Organizational Psychologist – This is a part of the course at Indian universities and one can specialize in it post graduation. Delhi University offers a full-time M.A. in Applied Psychology while the AVR Educational Foundation offers a correspondence MA degree course in Psychology which is approved by UGC, AICTE, and DEC. Industrial psychologists or organizational psychologists help employees improve their performance, behaviour, and build skills. They also help companies select professionals with right attitudes and aptitudes.

Special Education Teacher –These psychology graduates work with students having different types of disabilities – physical or mental.

2. Education

A degree in Education inculcates skills in theories of learning, equality and diversity, education policy and practice, and creativity and education. The degree will also provide a general understanding of education in social, political and economic contexts. Some courses include work placement modules, providing the opportunity to put theory into practice.

Besides, following transferable skills, highly useful to employers in a variety of job sectors are also developed –

  • Communication skills, for presenting effective oral and written arguments
  • IT skills
  • Research and analytical skills
  • Interpersonal skills, with the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organisation and time-management skills, for prioritising your academic workload and delivering essays on time
  • Self-management, for planning your own workload and reflecting on and improving personal practice

The skills and experience students pursuing education degree develop; prepare them for a range of careers like –

  • Community education officer
  • Early year’s teacher
  • Education administrator
  • Education consultant
  • English as a foreign language teacher
  • Further education teacher
  • Learning mentor
  • Primary school teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • Special educational needs teacher
  • Teaching assistant
  • Careers adviser
  • Child psychotherapist
  • Counsellor
  • Family support worker
  • Health play specialist
  • Museum education officer
  • Play therapist
  • Private tutor
  • Youth worker
  • Typical employers
  • Central government departments
  • Community and voluntary organisations
  • Museums
  • The police and probation services
  • Social services
  • Universities

Work experience

Those seeking a PGCE or equivalent postgraduate qualification will have to show experience of working with children, if possible in school. Candidates can apply to schools to ask for work experience or to observe the teaching methods. Volunteering to help out at a local education, sports, community or youth centre is the best way to get experienced. It is important to search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships. Also take efforts to find information on employers in teacher training and education, charity and voluntary work and other job sectors.

There are career prospects in public as well as private sectors in career roles like HR, market and policy research, retail management, publishing, education psychology and careers guidance.

Further study

One can do Masters Course in Education or a related social science to build understanding of the theory, research and policy of education and enhance professional skills. Education graduates also study for a PhD in education. Other option is Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

3. Performing Arts

Performing Arts orFine-art is a course that deals with sketching, drawing and creativity. If these are your area of interest then a career in fine arts will be good for you. The expression ‘Fine Art’ connotes an art form created mainly for its aesthetic significance and beauty. Study of Fine Art include pursuing subjects like – film, dancing, painting, photography, architecture, pottery, conceptual art, sculpture, music, printmaking, interior design and drama.

You can choose between certificate, diploma and degree courses in fine arts which are available in various Indian institutions. Eventually you can do your postgraduate and Ph.D as well. The duration of the courses varies from 1 to 5 years.

  • Diploma course is of one year and you can get enrolled after completing your plus two.
  • Undergraduate courses i.e. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) is of 4 to 5 years. However, Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (BA) is three year course.
  • Postgraduate courses i.e. Master of Fine Art (MFA) or Master in Visual Arts (MVA) is two year. Master of Arts in Fine Arts (MA) is also a two year program.

Career Prospects

A graduation degree in fine arts can give you opportunity to work as art teacher, artist and photographer or start a career as a freelancer in domains like film direction, clothing, and photography. Other options are academia, architecture and creative departments like media, advertising agencies, art studios, boutiques, theatres, fashion houses, television, textile and publishing industry. Industries like banking, art gallery, insurance and public relations also offer jobs to fine arts graduates. Multimedia artists and animators get recruited by motion picture or video gaming companies.

Job roles

  • Art therapist
  • Multimedia programmer
  • Drawing Teacher
  • Set Designer
  • Production Artist
  • Music Teacher
  • Creative Director
  • Editor
  • Furniture Designer
  • Art Director
  • 3d Artist
  • Animator

4. Economics

Economics is for those with a analytical bent of mind; ones that are fascinated by the world around them. A degree in economics opens a plethora of career opportunities, including public and private sectors. A degree in economics includes study of industry trends, labour markets, prospects for individual companies, and the forces that drive the economy.

Career Prospects

Career opportunities for graduates in private sectors

  • NGOs
  • International Aid Agencies
  • World Bank
  • Asian Development Bank
  • IMF
  • Development Banks,
  • Financial Consultancy firms

Job roles

  • Economist,
  • Economic advisor
  • Executive
  • Analyst
  • Consultant,
  • Researcher
  • Financial analyst
  • Business analyst
  • Economic research analyst
  • Stock market analyst

Sector wise employment opportunities

Some of the high demand sectors offering great job prospects –

  • Accounting
  • Auditor
  • Banking and Finance
  • Insurance Investment
  • Marketing
  • Stock Broker
  • Media Analyst
  • Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Advertising
  • Communication
  • Actuarial
  • Education and Research
  • Retailing
  • System Analysis

5. Nursing

For the ones seeking immediate well-paying careers, Nursing is the right course to pursue. It is also one of the most popular majors worldwide. The average starting salary of nurses is $53,300 and average mid-career salary is $70,000. Specializations are available in diverse areas which enhance opportunities to become a nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner or registered nurse.

This demand for care givers across the world has helped many nursing degree holders get placed in leading health care companies. Today many are working in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes as trained nurses and are playing a vital role in determining the quality of care given to patients. New opportunities for nurses to participate in shaping the future health care delivery system are making great quantitative as well as qualitative differences in the lives of nursing professionals who took up the career of a nurse.

If you love caring for people and want to help prevent and fight illness while working as front-liner, a career in nursing is right for you. Top-ranked international schools for nursing include Molloy College, New York University and Drexel University.

6. Finance and Accounting

A degree in finance or accounting will help build a career in a company’s financial team and manage business assets and capital for long-term investments. A good background in mathematics is imperative and problem-solving skills are a must. Salaries are similar to economics graduates with starting salary of $45,000 and average mid-career salary of just over $81,000. Top international schools are University of Pennsylvania, Boston College, and Bentley University.

When it comes to career in accounting, attention to detail is the key. While finance deals mostly with investments and transitory numbers, accountants is all about fact-based numbers. As an accountant you will work with budgets, accounts payable and accounts receivable to ensure the flow of money within a business is tracked. The average starting salary is $44,500 with an average mid-career salary of just over $75,000. Top international schools are Bentley University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Bryant University.

7. Hotel and Hospitality Management

Hospitality sector is a fast growing and job opportunities are enormous. Degree, diploma or certificate programs in Hospitality Management are in much in demand. Industry experience is an added advantage in hospitality sector and courses often offer an industrial placement, making students put their academic learning into practical use. This also helps to develop contacts in the sector. The hospitality sector offers good prospects, and those who show a willingness and ability to learn quick, move faster up the ladder.


  • Airlines
  • Bars and pubs
  • Conference and exhibition centres
  • Events venues
  • Hotel chains
  • Restaurants and fast-food outlets
  • Universities
  • Hospitals

Direct jobs roles:

  • Accommodation manager
  • Catering manager
  • Chef
  • Conference centre manager
  • Event manager
  • Fast food restaurant manager
  • Hotel manager
  • Public house manager
  • Restaurant manager

Other relevant openings:

  • Air cabin crew
  • Customer service manager
  • Fire risk assessor
  • Human resources officer
  • Marketing executive
  • Retail manager
  • Tour manager
  • Tourism officer

8. Design

Bachelor of Design in Fashion Designing is a very prestigious program. The course is very popular among candidates interested in designing clothes and apparels. Future career prospects are extremely good as fashion as an industry is now seeing a boom. A plethora of career choices and professions are available after graduating which include – designers, freelance design consultants, costume designers, illustrators etc. Graduates can also get hired by MNCs and companies in the clothing line and designer wear space.

A course in Animation and multimedia can be of great opportunity. A creative bent of mind is a prerequisite for this course.

Those curious about a career in design should start by knowing the fundamentals of industry. Once they understand the relationship between product and user, design industry becomes their oyster.

Top Design Careers –

UI/UX Design

Fashion Design

Interior Design

Communication Design

Art Directors

Craft and Fine Artists

Fashion Designers

Floral Designers

Graphic Designers

Industrial Designers

Interior Designers

Jewellers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Set and Exhibit Designers


9. Geography

Candidates with a geography degree will have abundant opportunities including working in the war room of a royal navy vessel to working with an environment agency, running housing schemes, or working almost anywhere in the public sector. With a master’s degree and a Ph.D, one could also teach geography, do urban designs or town planning, or become a chartered surveyor. One can also teach geography, do urban designs or town planning, or become a chartered surveyor.

Some other career options after geography include:

•          Cartographer

•          Climate Change Analyst

•          Climatologist

•          Emergency Management Specialist

•          Geomorphologist

•          Geospatial analyst

•          GIS specialist

•          Hydrologist

•          Location analyst

•          Meteorologist

•          Pollution Analyst

•          Remote Sensing Analyst

•          Soil Conservationist

•          Surveyor

•          Town planner

•          Water conservation officer

10. Political Science

Earlier career options in this field were limited to academic fields only. However, it has changed now and scopes are much more varied where one can opt from a plethora of options in government and private sectors. One can work as a political analyst, join the civil service and even teach at the college or university level. Political journalism is also a smart career choice.

Career Prospects

As a political scientist, one can work for a Government, a think tank (research organisation), a non-profit organisation, a political lobby group, college or university, or even a business house. Some of the areas include:

Many political science students teach colleges, Degree College, university and management institutes.


One can do research in university, institute, business or industrial firm, N.G.O. or even in the non-profit or advocacy sector. Someone self-employed, and head their own research or consulting firms.


Many graduates of Political science programmes choose to become involved in print, television, or radio journalism. Political scientists also cover elections, interviews, or Press conferences.

Other job roles

  • Public Administration.
  • Public Planning.
  • Social Policy.
  • Academics
  • Public affairs
  • Analysis
  • International relations / International Affairs.
  • Diplomacy
  • Archivist
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Intelligence expert
  • City Planner
  • Diplomat
  • International Organisation
  • Executive Advisor
  • Translator with a Foreign Envoy.

Once you identify the sectors and roles that interest you, the next step will be to develop and execute a strategy to tap opportunities. The primary requirement will be of a compelling resume and digital presence, especially on LinkedIn, a valuable networking campaign (reports say 80 per cent of filled jobs are not in the public domain) and last but not the least interview skills.

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