STEM Workers Needed In Nashville — With The Right Experience

STEM fields are under a broad umbrella, and you can't necessarily get a job in software development if you're a chemical engineer. Credit: U.S. Army RDECOM / Flickr

STEM fields are under a broad umbrella, and you can’t necessarily get a job in software development if you’re a chemical engineer. Credit: U.S. Army RDECOM / Flickr

When Lisa French graduated college in 2009, she wanted to find a job in marketing. But it was mid-recession, and she wasn’t having any luck.

Then she heard about the “wealth of opportunities available in knowing how to program,” she says.

Wealth may be the right word. According to a new study from the Brookings Institution, workers in technical fields are in high demand both nationwide and in Nashville, especially compared to demand during the recession. The study found that employers have more difficulty filling jobs in science, technology, engineering or math.

With high demand and not enough supply, jobs in STEM fields like programming generally pay more, according to the Brookings study. And in Nashville, more than a third of all job openings require these technical skills.

But even though French learned how to code, she says most of the jobs she’s applied for in the area want developers with more experience — either from more years in the field or intensive training in boot camps.

“It’s really hard to take time to learn new skills when you’re thinking about your mortgage and car, and can’t be out of work three to six months to do one of these boot camps.”

Technology experience is helpful — a way to maximize potential for career success — but still not a guarantee, says Jonathan Rothwell, the author of the Brookings study.

“Even if you have a computer science degree, for example, you may not have picked up on a programming language that a particular company is looking for,” he says.

Meanwhile, French had 23 rejections in the month of June. The good news, she says? She’s gotten really good at jobs interviews.

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