Seven Jobs You Can Get With an Associate Degree

associate degreeAssociate degrees have suddenly landed on the radar of many people who hadn't given them much thought. Why? The economy!

Once the recession knocked us all on our backsides, we needed to find a new way to compete in this tough job market. Many people suddenly realized the importance of education when you're trying to stand out. Associate degrees became particularly attractive for several reasons:

  • You can typically earn one in one to two years.
  • The shorter schooling period makes them more affordable.
  • They can land you a high-paying and in-demand job.
  • You can obtain one at community colleges, which are often more accessible than traditional universities for many people.

If you think a boost in your education credentials could be the ticket to finding the right job, consider one of these jobs. Keep in mind that some employers or states require a specific combination of a degree, experience and certification.

Here are seven jobs you can get with an associate degree, their average annual salaries and the number of workers they're projected to add between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Computer support specialists

Computer support specialists work in information-technology departments and respond to problems that employees have with technical equipment, most often computers. They troubleshoot software and hardware issues. Depending on their specific role in an organization, they might work as technical support or as a help desk technician. Technical support specialists work on site for an organization, handling employees' computer issues in person and participating in the other computer-related daily operations. Help desk technicians respond to customer phone calls and instruct the caller on how to troubleshoot the issue through detailed directions.

Projected growth 2008-2018*: 78,000

Salary**: $54,963

2. Dental assistants and hygienists

Dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists to prepare patients for the dental exam or assist with procedures. They are allowed to perform certain tasks but should not be confused with dental hygienists, who undergo separate training and often perform more involved tasks, such as administering anesthetics or working with the material used in fillings

Projected growth 2008-2018: 105,600 (assistants) and 62,900 (hygienists)

Salary: $38,359 (assistants) and $69,907 (hygienists) (Get a full dental assistant salary overview)

3. Engineering technicians

Engineering technicians address technical issues in a variety of engineering fields and they often assist engineers in the research and development of products.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 25,800

Salary: $52,753 (Get a full engineering technician salary overview)

4. Occupational therapist assistants and physical therapist assistants

Assistants follow the instructions of occupational and physical therapists to help rehabilitate patients. They work with patients, and record and report their progress to the therapist.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 7,900 (occupational therapist assistants) and 21,200 (physical therapist assistants)

Salary: $42,416 (Get a full occupational therapist salary overview)

5. Paralegals

Paralegals research and gather information on legal documents and other relevant materials that attorneys need for trials and other proceedings.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 74,100

Salary: $58,236 (Get a full paralegal salary overview)

6. Radiation therapists

Radiation therapists administer radiation therapy to patients based on the instructions provided by the radiologist. They monitor patients' prescriptions and progress to ensure they are in line with what the radiologist prescribed.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 4,100

Salary: $70,512 (Get a full radiation therapist salary overview)

7. Registered nurses

Registered nurses work in every health-care facility imaginable -- hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and countless others. They care for patients in a variety of ways, including administering medication as prescribed by a physician, monitoring their vital signs and assisting with other needs.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 581,500

Salary: $67,217 (Get a full medical assistant salary overview)

*Projected job growth figures based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
**Average annual salary figures based on data from, powered by

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:
Jon Smith

Great article about what you can do with an associates degree. Loved to read it.

January 03 2014 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ton Jrandom321:

You are an excellent blogger!!! lol

May 06 2013 at 5:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While these are all great jobs I'm sure, they require an AAS (Assosiates of Applied Science) NOT an AA degree.

December 01 2012 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, if anyone is still reading this thread (doubtful, as the last post seems to be from about a year+ ago), what jobs can I get with an Associate of Liberal Arts that aren't related to teaching or secretarial work?

Please don't say fry kid, because the reason I took 99% English courses is that I have a legitimate learning disability (dyscalculia) that prevents me from understanding logic or mathematical concepts. Hence, I didn't go for any medical science or IT courses because I simply am unable to do the work. Unwilling because I am unable, and also because these are fields in which I really don't have any personal interest. I'm only 25 but something of a Luddite (intentionally) when it comes to computers and science. It's all very nice and pretty the way the movies makes it look, but scary, terrifying in fact, considering all the Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury and Asimov I've immersed myself in since practically the fifth grade. :)

In terms of math, I was forced to take a horrendous statistics course as part of my general ed. requirements, and barely passed, which must have been due to some sort of head trauma or something rather than a "eureka" moment in which I truly "got" the concepts. I cannot even balance a checkbook nor do long division, which seems stupid, I realize, but I consider myself to be an excellent writer, a wide-range thinker ("out of the box"), and naturally geared towards the humanities or social sciences. I believe I'd do well in a research position (such as paralegal) but don't have a paralegal or criminal justice degree per se, and don't want to go back to school and spend more time "studying" (for a grade) than I already have. I like to think I've certainly read enough Tolstoy (and watched enough Stephen J. Cannell series) to have at least a barebones grasp of "the system." :)

I've heard about these social networking sites for jobs but don't trust them. I'm not on Linked In or Facebook and wouldn't trust the seedy annals of Craigslist (where several applicants for rural farm work were murdered after being lured with phony job postings) for anything. I have never had a job in my life, and there seems nothing available in my local area (MA) that isn't minimum wage if it doesn't involve the paths mentioned above. Certainly, there are more lawyers per capita than any other state next door in Rhode Island (and for good reason!), but the prospect of anything that isn't science or health or IT for employment in this region is really not good.

Is there anything, anything at all that I can do? My parents have no money and can't afford to send me to even a state college to get a Bachelor's. Unless I find either work experience or plunge in and burn out, I feel as though I'm very much SOL and face a life sentence of working at Mickey Dee's. I turn 26 in eight months and my father's insurance is soon to lapse, leaving me nothing but to default on welfare, like the "bums" my whole (Republican!!!) family talks about.

"Help wanted"!

December 12 2011 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jrandom321's comment

you can get a job as a teachers assistant or can get an entry level position working for your local police department (not being a beat cop) also most jobs where you do simple things like filing and answering phones,require an AA degree now. try or and readjust the settings for those with an AA degree.good luck!

December 30 2011 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Having recently obtained an Associate Degree, I went back to the want ads to see what I could find. Nothing at all! My degree was not enough for the field (graphic design) I tested for, as compatible to my interests and had some skills in to begin with.
Going through the program, I began to see that some instructors were keeping more in tune to how the students viewed them, rather than what the students were learning. Then, on the other end of the 'types of instructors' we had one who thought it was his duty to make up for the lack of discipline and the learning that went on prior to his courses which were in the last semester. This meant a whole semester of cramming every week, staying up late almost daily, and burning out was the status quo. In the end, an associate degree is about half of what I will need to be a solid success in this field. I have 37 years work experience, so I know pretty much of what I will need to become a top notch worker in my field.
Be careful what field you get in. Others I know, have gone through associate programs and not found work, because they were being taught on outdated equipment, software, and/or how to work in a field, with outdated techniques.

June 14 2010 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The the wages shown include places like LA,NY,ETC and they bring up the curve.A sandwich in NY is 8-18 dollars and a sandwich in piss water America can be 3-8 dollars and the taxes alone could be the difference in wages

March 03 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Even if you have an Associate No experience no job.

March 02 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Shelley's comment

I agree that's the situation I'm in. I have two Associate's.

March 10 2010 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have an Associate degree in Electronic Technology and I have never worked. This is barring me from getting a job. I wonder if anyone will hire me for the price I am asking. $50,000.00

March 02 2010 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's great to see comments from people with actual work experience relating to the article. I think the writer of the article found some of the highest paid salaries for these jobs and posted them as entry level.

As for the people who use this forum for their own personal commercial site; I personally find it very annoying.

March 02 2010 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PK's comment

PK, I am an RN and have been since 1995. I find the jobs ask more for BSN's now than when I spent my 3 years studying for my RN. We actually go for 3 years to get the 2 year degree. I have actually seen others go for 4 years to get the 2 year RN (associates) degree.That is because we still need good nurses! There will be many retiring. Many get burned out and many just decide to get a different degree, or get a new degree in a new field.

March 02 2010 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I received an AAS in Paralegal Studies from a local (NJ) community college in 2003, and I'm actually making over $70K a year. I wasn't making much when I was working in Jersey - I topped out at about $38K doing IP work for a pharma. I took a job working for a law firm in NYC in 2003, and from day 1 I was making DOUBLE.
I'm currently working with the in-house legal group in a commercial real estate corporation, and I can tell you that they would NOT have considered me at all for this job if I didn't have a degree! All of the recruiters (both in-house and outside headhunters) were very clear with me that most places in NYC require a bachelors for any sort of professional job, but an associates degree will at least get your foot in the door!

March 02 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web