Considering Associate’s Degrees?
We’ve all heard time and time again: if you want to succeed in today’s job market, you need an education. But how much education do you need, exactly? Depending on the career you’re looking for, the answer might just be: not as much as you think. We’re going to explore some of the best two-year and associate degree programs in terms of job opportunities and potential earning power for graduates.
While a bachelor’s degree program or higher can certainly help give you a well-rounded education, it also means four years before you can start earning, and it can also mean substantial student debt. So while you’re looking over your options, consider the following associate’s degree and two-year degree programs, which can lead to some of today’s fastest-growing and well-paid career options.
Computer Science and Related Associate Degree Programs
Computer science, information technology (IT), networking technology, and other degrees focusing on computers and technology are becoming increasingly valuable in today’s information-driven economy. There are a range of jobs available to workers holding associate degrees in IT fields. Computer support specialist, network administrator, and support technician positions are just a few of the careers that an associate’s degree can open up. And most of those positions are projected to continue to grow: employment for computer support specialists is expected to grow by 14% in the coming decade, while employment for network and computer systems administrators is expected to rise by 23%.
Paralegal Associate Degree Programs
Paralegals help lawyers with nearly all aspects of legal cases, from doing background research to preparing arguments for hearings and trials to drafting legal documents – generally, paralegals can help lawyers perform any task outside actually practicing law (paralegals cannot give legal advice or present cases in court). Though some paralegals hold bachelor’s degrees, the most common path to becoming a paralegal is through an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. Employment of paralegals is projected to grow by 28% in the coming decade, and the average national salary for paralegals is just under $50,000 per year.
Engineering Technology Associate Degree Programs
Associate degree programs in engineering and engineering technology prepare students to work in the engineering field by giving them core scientific training and specialized training in a particular field. For example, a mechanical engineering degree program may focus on things like thermodynamics and mechanical design, whereas an electrical engineering program may focus on microprocessors and electrical circuits. Graduates of associate degree programs (particularly those accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) can work as engineering technicians – and in the coming decade, employment for technicians in certain fields is expected to grow rapidly. Employment for civil engineering technicians and environmental engineering technicians, for example, are expected to grow by 17 and 30 percent, respectively, for example, and engineering technicians can expect to earn a salary between $40,000 and 60,000 annually.
Dental Hygiene Associate Degree Programs
Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth, instruct patients and their families on proper dental care, and assist dentists with procedures. Requirements for the position can vary state to state, but generally speaking they require a certificate from a dental hygiene program. Most programs grant an associate’s degree, though some grant certificates or other degrees. Employment prospects for dental hygienists are among the best among all occupations in the country: in the coming decade, there’s expected to be over 35% growth in the number of positions available. Further, dental hygienists earn very good salaries: the median dental hygienist salary is over $66,000, and most earn a salary between $55,000 and 79,000.
These are just a few of the associate and two-year degree programs out there that can quickly get you on your way to a rewarding and lucrative career, and there are plenty more. While a bachelor’s degree or graduate training may be useful for some, don’t automatically assume you need four years of college or more just to land a good job.
Take a look at our Associate Degree Programs page to learn a little more about the different degrees out there, as well as the career paths they open up.