The best way to understand how to find a job with an associate’s degree is to first understand what this degree is. Basically, an associate’s degree is an undergraduate achievement that provides you with the basic academic knowledge that you would otherwise earn at a four-year college or university. An associate’s degree jobs give you the knowledge and skills to pick your next step:
- Enter the workforce.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.
Associate’s degrees make education accessible to more people because they tend to have lower cost and higher flexibility than four-year colleges. Their tuition is more affordable, and they offer more classes at night and on the weekends than many colleges and universities. Because of this, many students first earn an associate’s degree and then enter the workforce. You can decide down the road whether to return to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree—or even a master’s degree.
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So how do you find a job after you’ve earned an associate’s degree?
High-paying jobs you can get with an associate’s degree
Salary ranges are unique to each industry—and each position within each industry. For instance, the medical field tends to pay more than the food service industry. And a cardiovascular surgeon will make more money than a hospital registration clerk. Similarly, there are different associate’s degrees that will lead to different skill sets and wage expectations.
The school that you select to attend as you study toward your associate’s degree will help guide you toward a career. Or if you want to keep studying, they’ll help you pick the next step in your academic journey. Determining whether to work or return to school can be difficult, especially when you can get a high-paying job that meets your needs.
Which associate’s degrees will lead to the highest-paying jobs?
So how do you choose the right associate’s degree that will lead to a high-paying job? There are a lot of options out there, and it’s important to pick the one that’s right for you.
First, keep in mind that on average, every degree that you earn leads to higher pay. For example, your associate’s degree will likely mean you’ll get paid more than someone who has earned a high school diploma or GED.
Second, it’s helpful to understand the three main types of associate’s degrees:
- Associate of arts (AA). The AA is the most general associate’s degree. It fulfills general education requirements that are transferrable to most four-year institutions. It also provides you with the opportunity to either find employment or to enter a university to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you prefer to enter the workforce immediately after earning your AA, you can look into fields such as teaching, law enforcement, and operations.
- Associate of science (AS). This degree tends to be a gateway to future studies, such as a four-year college or university. The AS lays the groundwork for students to enter a bachelor’s degree program with a strong understanding of general studies. It also builds a solid foundation of your preferred field. The AS can lead to careers such as dental hygienist, respiratory therapist, and occupational therapy assistant.
- Associate of applied science (AAS). The AAS is the most focused associate’s degree. It concentrates on the application of the field you want to enter rather than general studies. Some medical professions such as a diagnostic medical sonographer and a nuclear medicine technologist begin with an AAS. You can also find employment in industries such as computer science and graphic and web design with this degree.
Your associate’s degree will greatly increase your chances of getting hired in any industry. But to make sure you’re aiming toward the highest possible pay, it’s always best to research the median salary for your field. Look around online and check actual job postings to find out how much your possible profession will pay. Also be sure to look over your profession’s labor statistics for recent years. You’re spending a lot of time earning this degree, so you want to join a growing industry.
What are different areas in which you can earn an associate’s degree?
Associate’s degrees are great because they are financially accessible to so many people. They also provide the option for general studies in case you’re not sure what field you want to dedicate your life to. And that’s just fine. If this sounds familiar, then an associate’s degree might be the right path for you.
Remember, the three main types of associate’s degrees are AA, AS, and AAS. These degrees offer you a lot of different study options. For instance, if you want to keep it general and decide your specialty later on, go with the AA for a general arts degree. But if you’re interested in a particular job like a cardiovascular technologist or a nuclear technician, it’s best to look into one of the science degrees.
What are the requirements for an associate’s degree?
Requirements for an associate’s degree are broken down into two sections: what you need to enter an associate’s degree program, and what you need to graduate with the degree. Each school has different requirements, so be sure to find out what your particular institution requires. But there are some common boxes that you’ll need to check before entering a program and before you can graduate.
The most common admission requirements you’ll need before you can enter an associate’s degree program are:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Minimum high school grade point average (GPA)
- Minimum standardized test scores such as ACT or SAT
- Letters of recommendation from previous teachers or employers
In order to graduate from your associate’s degree program, there are two basic goals you’ll need to accomplish:
- Complete all of your courses, normally around sixty hours—roughly half of standard bachelor’s degree requirements.
- Finish school with a minimum GPA.
Because each school has its own prerequisites and graduation requirements, it’s very important to research what you’ll need to get into the program and to graduate. It’s not always easy. But don’t forget to believe in yourself! This is your pathway to a great career and a high-paying job.
Fastest-growing jobs with an associate’s degree
You want your associate’s degree to lead to a profession that you can be proud of and a career that will last. Earning a degree is a major accomplishment, and you deserve the payoff of job security. So it’s important to look into industries with the fastest-growing jobs. Before you commit yourself to any particular field, make sure that the industry is trending upward and that the job outlook is positive.
How can having an associate’s degree increase your chance of landing a job?
Education is extremely important to employers. One of the reasons is quite obvious: if you’re educated in your job’s field, you’ll automatically have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in your profession. You’re a low-risk hire, and your employer can be confident that they’ve added the right person to their team.
But there’s also a more general and less obvious reason that companies prefer to hire educated employees: discipline. When you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, employers understand that you are prepared for the workforce. You worked hard to earn your degree and were disciplined enough to earn it. Employers can rest assured that they’re bringing a self-motivated go-getter to their company.
What are the fastest-growing jobs for people with an associate’s degree?
Most associate’s degree programs will take about two years if you attend school full-time. Many students opt to study at their own pace so that they can balance school, work, and personal life. In these cases, the degree can take closer to three or four years. Regardless, you’re going to spend a lot of time studying to earn your degree. And you want it to be worth it. You want to join a fast-growing industry.
It’s important to research the job growth in the industry you’ve chosen. Will your profession be in demand for a long time? Are you studying a fast-growing field like computer science, or are you in a declining field like newspaper printing? What is the job outlook in your industry? You’re putting a lot of time and money into earning your degree, so you want to pick a job that’ll be in demand for a long time.
One way to narrow down your search for the fastest-growing jobs is to consider basic life necessities. There are some things that people simply cannot live without—and these will lead you to the fastest-growing job in your field. For example:
- Medicine. People will always need access to medical professionals. An associate’s degree can prepare you to study for medical careers like a respiratory therapist, physician assistant, occupational therapist, and dental hygienist.
- Computers. It’s hard to imagine a world without computers. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are here to stay. Maybe a career as a computer technician or engineering technician is right for you.
- Education. Similar to medicine, people will always need to be educated. Teachers, teaching assistants, and school administrators are in high demand, and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon.
- Human resources. Businesses need employees, and employees need human resources. Every company has some sort of human resources department. Some of the most lucrative jobs you can get with an associate’s degree are in human resources.
How does an associate’s degree prepare you for a job?
Education is a way to prepare you for your next steps in life. Think about it: Primary school prepares you for middle school, which in turn prepares you for high school. And high school prepares you for college or an associate’s degree program. Similarly, an associate’s degree prepares you for a job.
Your associate’s degree will give you a solid foundation for your next step whether you choose to join the workforce or continue your schooling. Your degree will provide you with basic and general education requirements. It’ll even give you specific skills and knowledge if you choose to study a specific field during your associate’s program.
Earning a degree is a great accomplishment. And one that you should be proud of. An added benefit of having a degree and the education that comes with it is that employers will see you as an employee they want on their team. Your associate’s degree proves that you are motivated, disciplined, and skilled.
Typical salary for associate’s degree jobs
One of the biggest factors that affects anyone’s salary is education. On average, the more education you complete, the higher your salary could be. For example, a high school education will earn you a base salary. An associate’s degree will generally increase your base pay. And if you choose to continue your education, a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree will likely earn you even more money.
School is expensive. But an associate’s degree can be a financially friendly educational option that can lead to a high-paying job. Consider your education as an investment in your future. You really have to spend money on schooling in order to make money professionally. When you invest wisely, you’ll see great payoffs in your professional working life.
What are typical salaries for associate’s degree jobs?
Your typical median salary will vary based on the field you choose to work in. Before you finalize which industry you’ll select for your career, research the average salary or median annual wage for that profession. Talk to the guidance counselors at your school about salary options for associate’s degree job openings. Ask your family members and friends who work in similar industries what pay range you can expect.
And search online! The Internet is a wealth of information. There are plenty of online resources to find the job opening of your dreams. You’ll need to have your résumé ready and be prepared to write a custom cover letter for each job you apply to. Many of these resources allow you to filter by industry and salary, so use these tools to their fullest.
The medical industry is a great place to start with an associate’s degree. Here are some job ideas for medicine that are perfect matches for associate’s graduates:
- Registered nurse
- Physical therapist assistant
- Medical assistant
- Psychiatric technician
- Health information technician
Of course, other industries such as computers, education, law enforcement, and more will also have job openings. Those industries will likely be around forever. But the medical field will always need new people—and the average annual salary for a medical professional is very respectable.
What factors influence salaries for associate’s degree jobs?
There are several main factors that influence your salary as an associate’s degree holder. Each industry and each company will have different specific requirements, so be sure to do your research for specific information on the positions that you’re interested in. In the meantime, here is a short list of factors that you should be aware of as you begin your job search:
- Experience in your field or industry. Every employer wants an experienced team to help their company succeed. The more experience you have, the higher your potential salary will be. Internships and part-time jobs during your schooling are both great ways to get some experience under your belt before you graduate.
- Level of education. Job applications all have an education section. The more education that you can list, the better. An associate’s degree is great. And a bachelor’s degree might set you on an even higher pedestal to your prospective employers.
- Demand for employees. Some industries are growing quickly while others are declining. Make sure that you’re looking for job openings in industries that actually need people. Job fields such as medicine, computers, education, and human resources will probably be along for a very long time, so they are safe bets.
- Cost of living. Where you live and work will affect your salary. Some places simply cost more than others. For example, if you live in San Francisco—one of the most expensive places to live in the United States—your salary will automatically be higher than you’ll find in, say, a rural southern town.
Keep in mind that these are not the only factors you’ll need to consider. These are just examples of some of the larger factors that influence salary. Be sure to thoroughly read the job description and requirements of each job posting you find.
How can you increase your salary if you hold an associate’s degree job?
Holding an associate’s degree will automatically increase your chances of landing a high-paying job. Remember, the more education you have, the higher your earning potential. Employers want to see that you have the knowledge that an associate’s degree provides. They also appreciate the discipline and motivation that comes with earning a degree. Holding a degree proves to potential employers that you can get the job done for them.
Your associate’s degree can also be a springboard for your career and salary goals even after you’ve landed a good job. Many companies offer continuing education benefits for their employees. These are generally tuition reimbursement programs. You present your academic goals and list the reasons why your continued education will benefit your company. There’s a good chance that your employer will reimburse you for at least part of your tuition after you present your grades each semester.
This not only helps you as their employee to enhance your knowledge—it helps your company too. Highly educated employees tend to have a lot to bring to the table. That means that highly educated employees—and employees that want to continue their education and self-improvement—are very valuable. Ask your human resources department if your company offers any tuition-reimbursement programs.
How to find associate’s degree job opportunities
Your dream job is out there! You just have to find it. It doesn’t matter whether you earned your diploma at a brick-and-mortar school or participated in an online degree program. Having an associate’s degree dramatically increases your chances of landing a high-paying job that will make you happy.
Remember that there are a lot of people applying to jobs. Check out your industry’s labor statistics and projected job growth to make sure there are enough job openings to go around. If you’re hoping to work in a slow-growing industry, that means you’ll have to compete harder to get that job. You can do this! It’ll just take more work.
Earning a degree is a huge accomplishment. So be proud of yourself! You now have a leg up on a lot of other job applicants. Now it’s time to find a career that will leave you happy, satisfied, and financially comfortable. So where do you begin?
Why do employers verify associate’s degrees?
The overwhelming majority of job applications are done over the Internet. Whether a company posts on websites like Indeed.com or a social media platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, chances are you’re going to apply to a job opening online. One of the few downsides of the world being so digital is that it’s easy to lie online. So employers need to verify that your associate’s degree is legitimate.
Anyone can enter false information into an online form. Prospective employers will review each application, résumé, and cover letter. When they contact you for an interview, they’ll likely request a copy of your student transcripts. These are very easy to obtain—just contact your school for a copy.
Before you’re hired, your prospective employee might contact your school to verify that you actually earned your degree. This is just another step in their verification process. Companies want to hire honest and hardworking people, so they need to protect themselves against any type of fraud. But don’t worry. Your associate’s degree program administrators will give your employer everything they need.
How can you begin job searching with an associate’s degree?
Beginning your job search is easy, but it will take time. Here are a few steps to get you on the right track:
- Read up on helpful tips and tricks for your job search. These include things you might not think of, like making your social media pages look professional. Be as prepared as possible to really “wow” every company you apply to.
- Talk to the guidance counselors, teachers, and professors at your school for advice. Even if you’re in an online associate’s degree program, your school will have resources to aid your job search.
- Create a strong résumé and draft a cover letter. You will have to customize both documents to each of the job applications that you submit. This might sound like a painstaking process. But it’s worth it to find your dream job.
- Start applying! Use as many online resources as possible. Don’t forget that Facebook and LinkedIn can be great resources to find a job. And if you find a company that you really want to work for, don’t be afraid to call them to ask about job openings, even if they don’t have anything publicly posted.
It’s hard to start a job search. But once you get a few applications under your belt, you’ll have good momentum, and the process will get easier as you go.
Where should you look for a job with an associate’s degree?
The world is your oyster when you have a diploma—whether it’s an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree. Narrow down your search to be specific to what you want. For instance, search online for jobs specifically in your field. You can enter things like social work, computer science, or criminal justice.
Don’t forget that there are a lot of resources around you beyond the Internet. Ask your family, friends, and even fellow students where they’re looking for employment. If any of them work in fields related to yours, ask them for a personal recommendation. Personal referrals will always be a fantastic way to get your foot in the door.
You worked hard to earn your degree, and you deserve a job that will use your knowledge. It will take some hard work, but you can do this. Use your degree to your advantage and prove to your prospective employer that they’ll be lucky to have you on their team.
Earn your associate’s degree—and find your dream job!
Congratulations on deciding to earn an associate’s degree! This is an exciting and important step that will open a lot of doors for you. It’ll take some hard work and dedication, but the payoff will be worth it.
Now it’s time to find the right school for you. Check out our list of best value schools today. We’d love to help you begin this exciting journey!