What is an Associate Degree?
An associate degree is an undergraduate degree that usually takes less time to complete than a bachelors degree, because it generally has fewer requirements. Many people who choose to earn associates degrees often do so because these degrees cost less and are less time-consuming, allowing people to enter their career fields much sooner than if they were to complete bachelor or master degree programs. Even though an associate degree typically lands you an entry level position, you will still have room for promotion after gaining experience in your field.
How Long Does it Take to Complete an Associate Degree Program?
An associate degree program typically takes approximately two years to complete if you choose to enroll in the program as a full time student. A part time student may spend more than two academic years completing the requirements for his or her associate degree.
Who Offers Associates Degree Programs?
Many higher education facilities offer programs in which undergraduate students can earn associates degrees:
- Trade schools
- Community colleges
- Other educational institutes
It is important that you consider all options before choosing to apply to a few select schools. There are many questions you should ask yourself before you get started. These are just a few:
- What career path would you most prefer to travel?
- Will an associate degree be sufficient to get you started?
- What are some of the best schools that offer associates degree programs in your area of interest?
Should I Still Earn a Bachelors Degree?
Associate degrees are excellent materials that can help get you started on the path to the career of your dreams. Many people opt to earn the typical 4-year bachelor degrees in addition to 2-year degrees, though. It is not uncommon for someone earning an associate degree to pursue a bachelors degree in a subject that when combined with that particular associate degree will help someone become better qualified for a more specific career.
Are you planning to earn a bachelors degree after getting your associate degree? If so, there is a possibility that you may hit a metaphorical bump in your career path. Transferring from a community college or trade school can be tricky, because sometimes the college or university you plan to transfer to will not accept some of the credits you will have already earned. Be sure to consult with an academic advisor before making any final decisions.
What are Some of the Highest Paying Careers with an Associate Degree?Sure, an associate degree can land you an entry level job, but who’s to say that it won’t pay? You may not earn a six-figure salary, but you could be making big bucks once you earn an associate degree. This section elaborates on some of the best positions you can snag with an associate degree.
Physical Therapist Assistant
A physical therapist assistant keeps track of patients from the time they begin physical therapy throughout their time working with a physical therapist, noting progress or lack thereof. Physical therapist assistants may also help patients perform their prescribed physical activities in order to ensure the activities are performed accurately for best results. Physical therapist assistants possess associates degrees from completing accredited physical therapy associate degree programs. They also have outstanding communication skills and follow instructions carefully and within a timely fashion.
Physical therapist assistants may earn a salary of over $50,000 annually, based on education and experience.
Electrical Engineering Technician
An electrical engineering technician helps solve technical problems by assisting in the testing and regular maintenance of electrical control systems. He or she may also aid in the altering of individual parts in order to mend faulty systems. Entry level electrical engineering technicians typically have associate degrees in electrical engineering or electrical engineering technology. They have good communication skills and problem solving skills, and many are certified in electrical power testing.
Electrical engineering technicians may earn around $56,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
A diagnostic medical sonographer performs basic ultrasounds to produce images of organs and tissues inside of a person in order to determine the health of a person and/or growth of a fetus. Also known as ultrasound technicians, there are many types of diagnostic medical sonographers, from neurosonographers to musculoskeletal sonographers. An obstetrical sonographer may have the pleasure of informing expecting couples what to expect–whether they’re having boys or girls…or twins! Diagnostic medical sonographers must possess at least an associate degree and are highly personable. Proof of certification is highly recommended.
Diagnostic medical sonographers may earn around $60,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
A registered nurse, often referred to as an RN, may spend his or her day communicating with patients and observing their behaviors in order to report to doctors. These reports help doctors more accurately diagnose patients, and in addition to other responsibilities, RNs often educate patients on whatever conditions they are diagnosed with by their doctors. Since RNs spend much of their time with patients, they are highly personable with excellent written and verbal communication skills. They also possess associates degrees in nursing or related fields.
Registered nurses may earn over $63,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
What are Some Unique Careers Available to People with Associate Degrees?
Many other careers are available for people looking to pursue associate degrees, depending on the subjects they are most interested in studying. They may not be top-paying careers, but each career option is an excellent start for a future within that field.
A psychiatric technician, also called a mental health technician, works with patients with mental illnesses and/or disabilities. He or she assists patients with performing therapeutic exercises, and in addition to other responsibilities, he or she may also administer medications prescribed by doctors or psychiatrists. A psychiatric technician may possess a certificate or associate degree from completing a psychology program. Psychiatric technicians are highly personable and are good observers, watching and recording changes in behavior among various patients.
Psychiatric technicians may earn over $29,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
A mortician, also known as a funeral director or undertaker, helps families organize funeral services and burials. He or she is dedicated to helping relieve as much stress as possible during the planning and performing of funeral services as families struggle to cope with the loss of their loved ones. A mortician may also be responsible for embalming the deceased. Morticians have at least an associate degree in mortuary science, a program that covers everything from grief counseling to business law. Certification is often necessary, and requirements vary from state to state.
Morticians may earn an annual salary of over $40,000, based on education and experience levels.
Where can You Work with an Associate Degree?
People with associates degrees have jobs in all sorts of industries. Depending on what type of associate degree you earn, you may qualify to work in one or more of the following areas:
- Allied health centers
- Physical therapy clinics
- Retail stores
- Funeral homes
- Business administration
- Criminal justice
Earning a 2-year associate degree is a financially savvy idea if you are looking to gain basic knowledge necessary to jump into an entry level position in a field of your interest. It also saves you time, allowing you to qualify to enter whatever industry you choose to pursue earlier than those who are earning bachelor or master degrees. So, if you are looking to save time and money and get to earning money faster, then you may want to consider earning an associate degree.