What is an Associate’s degree?
This course of study involves completing about 20 classes or 60 credit hours. Typically, students finish this program in about two years. While some people use this degree to prepare themselves to enter four-year bachelor’s degree courses, other students earn their Associate’s and immediately enter the workforce.
What types of Associate’s degrees can students earn?
Students can choose to pursue either an occupational or a transfer Associate’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
An occupational degree – such as an Associate of applied science, applied arts or applied technology – prepares students to enter the workforce in a particular field upon graduation. Classes in these programs tend to be more hands-on and career-focused, but still involve basic college classes such as writing, communications and math.
Students who enter transfer Associate’s degree programs are planning to earn a bachelor’s degree upon graduation. These individuals can use the credits they earned during an Associate’s course of study towards a baccalaureate degree.
There are many different types of Associate’s degrees that fall into one of these two categories. Some examples of these programs include Associate’s degrees in forestry, engineering, nursing, arts, business administration, industrial technology and occupational studies.
Where can people earn this degree?
Many schools across the country offer students a variety of Associate’s degree programs. For example, community colleges, technical schools and four-year universities typically offer this course of study.
Students may also decide to earn an Associate’s degree online, as distance learning is more common in this course of study than in any other program, the BLS states. Many people prefer to use web-based classes because they allow individuals to build a flexible academic schedule that can give them enough time to hold a full-time job and manage a family.
What kinds of jobs require an Associate’s degree?
The BLS reports that students who earn an Associate’s degree are eligible to hold more job titles than people who have only completed a high school diploma.
For example, students who complete an Associate’s degree in nursing can become a registered nurse. These professionals work in a variety of different settings to treat patients and educate the public, families and their patients on various healthcare issues. In the future, these individuals will be in high demand, as employment is predicted to increase by 22 percent through 2018 for registered nurses.
Graduates of Associate’s degree programs may also be qualified to become paralegals or legal assistants. The BLS reports that these individuals help lawyers with a variety of tasks, such as investigating facts for cases, identifying relevant laws, analyzing and organizing information as well as preparing written reports. Employment in this field is expected to grow by about 28 percent through 2018.
Other jobs for people with an Associate’s degree include dental hygienist, medical assistant, physical therapist assistant, recreation worker, pharmacy technician, fashion designer, childcare worker and graphic designer.
Whatever the career path a student chooses, it may be very important to earn at least an Associate’s degree. The Association for Career and Technical Education reports that by 2020, about 75 percent of all jobs will require the completion of a two- or four-year degree program.
Can this degree increase salaries?
According to the BLS, individuals who earn an Associate’s degree, beyond a high school diploma, tend to make more money. While a high school graduate earns about $32,552 per year, an Associate’s degree holder can increase this salary to about $39,572 annually. That is equal to an additional $7,020 per year due to higher education.
*Source Reference: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov