10 Highly Profitable Two-Year Degrees

Think a bachelor's or master's degree is the only way to advance your career? Think again. Whether you're looking for a fresh start in a new, more lucrative field or enrolling in college for the first time, a two-year associate degree from a community college is one of the quickest routes to bringing home more bacon each week.

"Associate degrees are much cheaper, and the entry requirements are not as onerous as they are for getting into a bachelor's program," says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of more than a dozen books for job hunters, including 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs. Not only that, associate degrees are incredibly convenient. Besides being right in your neighborhood, many two-year programs offer part-time, evening, weekend and online classes -- good news for those already holding down a job and caring for a family.

So which two-year degrees offer the most job opportunities and will earn you the most green after graduation? Read on.


1. Physical Therapy Assistant

While every other job sector slashed their workforce in 2008, the health care field added nearly 400,000 jobs. According to Shatkin, job openings for physical therapist assistants are expected to grow by 33 percent in the next decade, especially as Baby Boomers age and "get a bit more creaky." Most physical therapist assistants either work in a hospital or a physical therapist's office.

Average salary: $46,111 a year.


2. Web Designer

As long as there are companies, organizations and creative agencies with something to sell or promote, there will be a need for people to design, code and maintain their web sites. Though many web designers are self-employed, countless others work in staff positions.

Average salary: $48,785 a year.


3. Electrical or Electronic Engineering Technician

These technicians comprise a third of all engineering technician jobs. They often work in industrial or commercial plants and laboratories, taking calculations, running tests, modifying equipment and otherwise assisting the engineers on their team.

Average salary: $47,163 a year.


4. Registered Nurse

If it's a high-growth field you want, you can't beat registered nursing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs are the largest occupation in the health care field, with 2.5 million jobs out there, about 587,000 new jobs expected to open up by 2016 and 59 percent of RNs working in hospitals.

Average salary: $55,276 a year.


5. Computer Support Specialist

Such specialists include the tech support and help desk workers who assist customers and users with problems they're having with their computer hardware and software. Often, computer support specialists can enjoy the luxury of working from home or working flexible hours.

Average salary: $46,111 a year.


6. Executive or Administrative Assistant

In the business sector, there's no shortage of administrative jobs. "You're talking a quarter of a million job openings every year," says Shatkin. And though you may start as the low man or woman on the totem pole, once you're in the door you're in a prime position to prove your worth and climb the ranks.

Average salary: $37,669 a year.


7. Dental Hygienist

While would-be dental hygienists must obtain a state license on top of their two-year degree, it's well worth the investment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the country's dental hygienists work part-time and many enjoy flexible work schedules. Even better, this is one of today's fastest growing occupations.

Average salary: $57,148 a year.


8. Surveying or Mapping Technician

Although the construction industry took some big employment hits in 2008, if all the infrastructure work President-elect Obama has promised comes through, there will be a huge need for surveying and mapping technicians. Such technicians do much of their work in the field (a boon for those who don't want to sit in an office all day), collecting data, taking calculations and assisting with computer-aided drafting.

Average salary: $42,104 a year.


9. Veterinary Technician

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this field to grow significantly during the next decade. Vet technicians often work in a private veterinary practice (zoo and aquarium work is harder to come by), performing lab tests and clinical procedures. Vet techs must pass a state exam and the salaries aren't as high as the other jobs on this list, but for those who want to help animals, the trade-offs are well worth it.

Average salary: $33,363 a year.


10. Camera Operator

While competition to break into TV broadcasting and film can be stiff, the continued rise of web content means more opportunities for camera operators. Television and film work often involve long or unusual hours. For that reason, many camera operators gravitate toward commercial advertising or corporate videos. The more computer skills a camera operator has, the better their job prospects.

Average salary: $42,558 a year.


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Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for experienced, full-time workers and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing. Michelle Goodman is a Seattle-based freelance writer. Her latest book is My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire (Seal Press, 2008).

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LaffinatJim

Don't u feel stupid now?

September 25 2009 at 1:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cornel

WHATTT "RECESSION"????



There is a "Famous" Quote that goes something like this, "The Major
Key To Your Better "Financial" Future Is YOU!"

If you are Open-Minded, a BIG Thinker and ready to get your "own"
(MBA)Massive-Bank-Account, CHECK THIS OUT!!!

What Do You Have To LOSE?>http://www.casshnurface.com

June 25 2009 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roger Fulton

The " jobs " the use an example of Associate Degree holders are an embarassment. I hold an A/D from Wharton School in Philadelphia. I attained a Vice Presidents position at an aviation company in Arizona then at an airline.
I don't think that one should think of an A/D in terms of a ceiling, but once "inside," use it as an open-door. Once the boss can see how bright you are - fly, man!! FLY.

June 24 2009 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cornel

WHATTT "RECESSION"????



There is a "Famous" Quote that goes something like this, "The Major
Key To Your Better "Financial" Future Is YOU!"

If you are Open-Minded, a BIG Thinker and ready to get your "own"
(MBA)Massive-Bank-Account, CHECK THIS OUT!!!

What Do You Have To LOSE?>http://www.casshnurface.com

May 22 2009 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
abe theophilus

whether one has a 2 yr. degree or not, jobs are difficult to obtain, especially in the post-911 era. :(

May 08 2009 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cornel

WHATTT "RECESSION"????



There is a "Famous" Quote that goes something like this, "The Major
Key To Your Better "Financial" Future Is YOU!"

If you are Open-Minded, a BIG Thinker and ready to get your "own"
(MBA)Massive-Bank-Account, CHECK THIS OUT!!!

What Do You Have To LOSE?>http://www.casshnurface.com

April 19 2009 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cornel

WHATTT "RECESSION"????



There is a "Famous" Quote that goes something like this, "The Major
Key To Your Better "Financial" Future Is YOU!"

If you are Open-Minded, a BIG Thinker and ready to get your "own"
(MBA)Massive-Bank-Account, CHECK THIS OUT!!!

What Do You Have To LOSE?>http://www.casshnurface.com

April 08 2009 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Krissy.D.

In 1988, I graduated from Community College with an Associates in Applied Science. I've been a practicing Dental Hygienist for 21 years. The money is great,AND if you want to hustle, there is alot for money to be earned. Hygiene is extreamly flexable, and a perfect for the "Working Mom". We do have to earn 20 CEU credits every 2 years to maintain our license.



March 18 2009 at 8:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bob

I quit High School and joined the Army in 1973. After 3 years in I had up to 4 years of paid college that I let go being young and dumb. So needless to say I've busted my a$$ to make a living all my life, so if you get a chance to get an education you had better do it.

March 04 2009 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TerriG

They forgot to add Court Reporter as a 2-year degree. If you've got what it takes to endure and succeed, you can graduate within 2 years from Court Reporting school and earn an entry-level, base salary of $67,000 in the NY State Unified Court System. You get extra pay for additional transcipts ordered by attorneys, etc. Or, if you free-lance, you can earn even more in your first year. I must say, however, from experience, this is a difficult course. There is a huge dropout rate. But if you really want something badly enough, it's attainable! Good luck!

March 04 2009 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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