Hands-On STEM Jobs

hands on jobs

The STEM field is broad. Degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics encompass many of the highest paying and jobs in the world today. However, many jobs in these fields take place in offices or labs, and there’s little field work involved. There are some jobs, however, for the actively inclined, you just need to know where to look. Here’s a guide for STEM jobs that won’t shackle you to a screen or desk.

Mechanical Engineer Technician

Technicians are the hands-on modifiers and testers of equipment for their engineer counterparts and physical scientists. But this doesn’t mean mechanical engineers get all the glory. Technicians typically take an active role in the design of tools, engines and other machines. A career as a mechanical engineer technician gives you the best parts of heady design and tactile tinkering.

Field Biologist

Field biologists do a variety of different jobs. Some classify plant species, track their growth, behavior and attributes, while others take census of endangered species, observe and record behavior. Some field biologists are even tasked with the relocation of non-native species in some locations. For example, in Washington State, mountain goats have been moved from Olympic National Park to the North Cascade Range, by way of tranquilization, helicopter and truck. Field biologist and mountain goat experts have been in high demand for the operation.


Chemists have a host of job options. Hazardous waste experts relocate hazardous substances from, water, air and soil. They identify hazardous materials, evaluate health risks and coordinate the clean-up. Chemists are also needed for the aerospace and automotive industries as those who understand chemistry will know the best o-ring material for specific seals that come into contact with potentially hazardous and/or combustible substances. The wrong o-ring jeopardizes the integrity of the product and can cause fatal failures if they fail.

Pharmaceutical companies hire chemists for the creation of new and improved medicines. In fact, analytical pharmaceutical chemists maintain the quality and safety of new drugs. Head chemists are responsible for the discovery and development of new drugs that save lives every day.


Conservation scientists are experts on how forests and other natural spaces function. They work with national parks, private companies and nonprofit organizations. Forestry is a broad field that has jobs for those with a high school diploma, all the way up through post-secondary education. Many foresters are in the logging industry, but many jobs also exist in reforestation programs. Scientific positions in forestry typically require a master’s degree.


Mathematics, on its own, doesn’t provide jobs unless a contextualized problem is presented. Cryptographers create algorithms and ciphers to encrypt sensitive information and data. Cryptographers evaluate weaknesses in security systems and develop mathematical models that analyze data and solve digital security problems. Encryption experts are hired by private security companies as well as financial institutions and even governments. In a digital age, cryptographers are a needed commodity for anyone who stores sensitive information on the internet.

Hands-On Careers

Hands-on careers like these constantly challenge even the brightest minds. Mechanical engineer technicians tinker and test, while field biologists roam about and sometimes find themselves in literal fields or mountain tops. Chemists can analyze the risks of hazardous waste, analyze the quality of commercial products or even create new compounds. Foresters maintain balanced ecosystems and reforest land after it has been logged, while cryptographers use mathematics to make and break complex ciphers that are the bedrock of cybersecurity.


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