Jobs in engineering and computer technology have long had the stigma of being "nerdy" professions -- boring, and not particularly high-paying either.
But that was before Facebook's first programmer, Dustin Moskovitz, became a billionaire, and Facebook and other tech companies began paying their interns almost $7,000 a month. Now geek jobs are considered "cool" -- in large part because there are plenty of openings -- plenty of well-paying openings.
In fact, CareerCast.com's latest Jobs Rated report showed that software engineers have the nation's overall best job. Not only is the pay great, but demand for their skills is through the roof -- which translates to job security -- and working conditions have never been better, the report says.
High-tech's rising cool quotient may be one reason that enrollment in graduate science and engineering programs at the nation's universities grew substantially in the past decade, from 493,000 students in 2000 to about 632,700 students in 2010, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation.
Yet, the growing supply of new graduates can't keep up with demand. The U.S. will face a shortage of 224,000 high-tech workers by 2018, according to a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy (via WallStreet&Technology), which promotes immigration reform.
CareerCast notes that even electrical engineers are in short supply, mainly due to the rising growth in the alternative-energy sector, and the need to design more reliable, more high-tech grids to deliver electricity.hovers around 10 percent, but the rate among electrical engineers is around just 1 percent.
Further, a recent report by the University of Southern California shows minority college students who pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math -- known as STEM fields -- earn at least 25 percent more than their peers who study humanities or education.
Though minority groups continue to be underrepresented in STEM jobs, the study's researchers believe that many will become interested as they learn how much more money can be earned in those fields, according to the report, published in the journal, Research in Higher Education.
As an example, the study notes that Latinos with a STEM degree earn on average about $57,000 a year, or more than a third more than the average $42,000 earned by college-educated Latinos overall.
Check out CareerCast's list of the 12 Best Engineering and Information Technology Jobs: