By Xiao Lu
World Education Services
Your field of study in university can help define your future. It may also correlate with what kind of career experience and salary you can expect after graduation. So, when deciding on your major, think about your passions, interests, values, and career options.
If you want to pursue a career in the U.S., you should understand the type of work eligibility you will face after graduation. In this post, we will share some data on what kind of jobs are more likely to be sponsored and offer higher salaries.
Which jobs sponsor the most H-1B visas?
The infographic below shows data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Characteristics of H1-B Specialty Occupation Workers in 2014. H-1B is the visa category that allows non-immigrants to temporarily work in the U.S. The data suggests that three out of four occupations that get the most sponsorships are related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
In 2014, H-1B sponsorship in computer-related occupations (64 percent) was more than half the total. Other top sponsorships were related to engineering (9 percent), administration (6 percent), education (6 percent), and medicine and health (5 percent). Computer science, engineering, and medicine and health alone make up 75 percent of the overall number of H1-B sponsorships.
So why are graduates with STEM degrees more popular among U.S. employers than those who majored in other fields? Simply speaking, there is a shortage of candidates in these fields in the U.S. domestic labor market. To fill the gap of qualified STEM workers, U.S. companies have begun hiring foreign talent under the H-1B visa program. This is good news for international students majoring in STEM who are interested in pursuing a career in the U.S.
Which jobs have the highest pay?
Sales promotion occupations have the highest average salary of $127,000 (U.S. dollars) when compared to other occupations. Law and Jurisprudence are ranked second, averaging $119,000. In third place are medicine and health professionals averaging $117,000, followed by managers and officials averaging $111,000. This comparison suggests that non-immigrants in STEM-related professions on average earn more than others.
If you plan to major in a STEM field and plan to work in the U.S. after graduation, the U.S. government has recently made this career track more favorable for international students.
USCIS allows F-1 visa students who earn a STEM degree in the U.S. to apply for a 24-month extension after completing their initial 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). In total, international STEM students have 36 months to work in a relevant job in the U.S. after graduation. This also means that STEM graduates have at least two years to file their work visa sponsorship. If STEM graduates fail to get sponsorship from an employer during their first year of OPT, they have a second chance to search for an employer and apply for visa sponsorship the following year as long as they remain on OPT. In summary, graduates with STEM degrees are strong players in H-1B sponsorships.
So what does this all mean for international students?
- STEM degrees provide international students with more opportunities to get sponsored for an H-1B work visa after graduation.
- STEM-related jobs are more likely to have higher salaries.
Xiao Lu is a Marketing Associate with the WES Advisor team. With a passion in both marketing and research, she manages WES Advisor social media accounts in an analytical and strategic way. Xiao was once an international student from China herself and holds a Master’s in Marketing Intelligence from Fordham University. She now enjoys her travel and life in the U.S.