Survey: Generation Z's Best Students Seek Careers in STEM and Healthcare


The highest achieving students from Generation Z anticipate building careers in STEM fields and healthcare, and they aim to do it with advanced degrees and studies abroad. Seventy-six percent said they plan to attend graduate school, indicating that they are prepping for a workplace that will require specialized skills and education.

These are some of the key findings of the National Society of High School Scholars’ (NSHSS) 2017 Career Interest Survey, an annual report that is focusing for the first time on Generation Z, or children born in the early 2000s and thereafter.

Conducted in conjunction with Hanover Research, the survey explores the civic, educational and professional interests of NSHSS member respondents, the majority of whom are high-achieving high school students.

According to the survey, more than half of respondents — 54 percent — said they see themselves pursuing career paths in science, technology or engineering. Forty-one percent said they expect to someday work in the medicine and health fields.

“Our survey sets the tone for what to expect from Generation Z teens, who are just a few years away from entering the workforce,” said James W. Lewis, president of NSHSS, in a statement. “These digital natives came of age in a time of political and economic turmoil, but the education and career plans they're making show how much they want to help others, learn new things and explore the world around them.”

Here are some other findings from NSHSS’ 2017 Career Interest Survey:

  • 77 percent said they plan to pursue internship experience during college;
  • Almost 66 percent said they’re interested in international experiences, like study abroad trips during their time in college;
  • 81 percent said it’s very important to work for a company that treats its workers fairly;
  • Google ranked as the No. 1 dream employer, followed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and “local hospital” at No. 3;
  • Among tech-related companies, Apple ranked at No. 6, 3M ranked No. 8, BuzzFeed ranked No. 9, Amazon came in at No. 11, Microsoft ranked No. 14 and Netflix scored No. 18;
  • 71 percent said they prioritize learning the skills needed for advancement;
  • Fairness among all employees, regardless of gender or ethnicity, is more important to the student respondents than financial interests, such as salaries and bonuses; and
  • More than 75 percent of Gen Z students said they are most likely to find and pursue jobs via organizations’ own websites first, as opposed to social media.

The survey was conducted in spring 2017 with responses from 9,214 participants, including every ethnicity, from all 50 states and U.S. territories. High school students (the prime Gen Z population) represented 76 percent of respondents, with 41 percent saying they were seniors. Forty-five percent of respondents were 18 years or older.

NSHSS is an honors society for outstanding students. The organization offers member-exclusive scholarships, college admissions counseling, internships and advanced networking opportunities, according to the society’s website. For more information, visit

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].