Gen Z students have a keen interest in STEM--an interest that continues to grow particularly among women and students of color

Gen Z students are aiming for STEM careers

Gen Z students have a keen interest in STEM--an interest that continues to grow particularly among women and students of color

A majority of high school and college students chose STEM as their No. 1 preferred career path, according to a survey of 11,495 Gen Z students conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

The 2022 Career Interest Survey gives insights into what motivates an adventurous, civic-minded, concerned, vocal, tech-savvy, emerging workforce.

NSHSS is an academic honor society that recognizes and serves high-achieving student scholars in more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries.

Born after 1997, Gen Z is significantly larger than the generations that precede it, with more than 90 million members, according to Pew Research. With its oldest members just 25 years old, many in this generation are making life-changing transitions: graduating high school, attending college, and starting their careers.

The survey highlights five themes that characterize Gen Z students: Equity for all, STEM and healthcare, love of learning, the world after COVID, and the setbacks of college debt.

Top findings include:

  • Gen Zs are adventurers, but not crazy about the world we live in. Fifty-five percent are interested in living and working on Mars or the Moon
  • 70 percent want to travel internationally despite tensions (87percent of responses came after the Russian invasion of Ukraine)
  • Gen Zs want to work at Spotify (moves from #42 on the desired employer list – to #3)
  • Fair treatment of all employees ranks #1 of all workplace preferences
  • Forty-four percent of college grads expect employers to help pay their college loans
  • Sixty-three percent say they expect employers to offer in-person training

Additional key findings


  • Gen Zs have a strong work ethic: 65 percent say “There’s a lot to learn, so I will roll up my sleeves and do anything.”
  • More than 1 in 4 students plan on staying in their first full-time job for one year – or less
  • Hospitals remain #1 job choice, great news for the healthcare worker shortage
  • Eighty-two percent, mainly high schoolers, plan to have an internship before first job
  • Gen Zs maintain their keen interest in STEM, their #1 career choice, which continues to grow particularly among women and students of color
  • Covid concerns have largely waned, as few say the chance to work from home was most important. Only 23 percent rated the option to work remotely as very or extremely important because they have grown weary of online learning and crave in-person experiences

Benefits & Compensation:

  • Gen Zs choose health benefits, flexible work schedule, and time-off benefits over salary
  • Median salary expectation for their first full time job is $50,000-$69,999K
  • Work/life balance ranks #1 in regard to importance (working conditions)


  • 55 percent of scholars are somewhat interested, very interested, or extremely interested in living and working in outer space, on the moon or Mars.
  • Gen Zs prefer the city over the burbs (47 percent vs. 42 percent)
  • Sixty percent say they’ll live at home for 1-2 years after graduation to help pay their bills

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione
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