While it’s true that many jobs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, an associate’s degree opens up a wide range of career opportunities.
Often, having an associate’s degree can help you land jobs that pay $35,000 and up — with the average salary of someone with an associate’s degree being $59,000.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 15 great jobs you can get if you have an associate degree. We’ll also give you some useful tips you can follow to make your resume stand out so you can land the job easier.
What jobs can you get with an associate degree?
Before we get into the job suggestions, let’s first discuss what an associate degree is.
An associate degree is an academic course taken at the undergraduate level (the first stage of education taken after school). It aims to give students the fundamental knowledge and skills they need to get a job in their chosen field.
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Usually, these degrees take two years to complete. It can be taken at community colleges as well as vocational or technical institutions.
Here’s a list of the top 15 associate’s degree jobs. The list includes medium-to high-paying jobs with an associate’s degree.
Office managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company’s offices. They must organize operations and procedures and ensure that staff members have everything they need to keep processes running without a hitch.
Some of their duties include designing filing systems, organizing meetings, assigning clerical functions, and more. The top skills of office managers include people management, policy development, and communication.
On average, office managers earn around $51,000 per year.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Business Administration
Computer programmers write, adjust, and test code to create functional computer software and applications. They’re responsible for turning designs created by software developers into code that computers can follow.
Depending on the role, their primary duties include writing new software, providing support by creating new versions of older software, testing their code before release for any potential bugs, managing databases, and more.
They need to have excellent analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. They also need to be able to follow instructions properly to ensure working applications.
Computer programmers earn an average of $68,000 per year. However, some employers may need you to have a bachelor’s degree or several years of previous experience to reach this level of compensation. Therefore, you may need to pursue additional education or experience.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Computer Science
Web developers create and maintain websites. They’re in charge of the site’s overall performance. Thus, they need to handle all technical aspects. This includes improving the site’s loading speed and navigation to create better user experiences.
Top web developers need to have strong numerical skills, be highly creative, and have the ability to come up with and follow logical approaches. They also need to pay strong attention to detail.
On average, web developers earn around $61,000 per year.
However, some employers may require a bachelor’s degree or several years of experience to earn this salary. Thus, having an associate degree will likely get your foot in the door. But, to achieve higher compensation, you’ll need to seek more education or experience.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Web Design and Development
Healthcare and fitness careers
Registered nurses are responsible for taking care of patients’ needs. They work alongside doctors and follow instructions to provide patient care, educate patients, and offer emotional support.
Some duties include assessing patients, recording symptoms and medical histories, preparing patients for exams, and more.
Registered nurses need to be great at critical thinking and problem-solving. They also need to work well with others and have excellent communication skills.
Registered nurses earn an average wage of $70,500 per year.
However, specific skills in the medical field can increase their salaries drastically. For example, documentation, nuclear medicine, and interventional radiology skills can increase their earnings by 19%–26%.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Nursing and state licensing
5. Occupational therapy assistant
Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists to help patients develop and recover their skills needed for living and working.
They perform several clerical tasks, such as maintaining supplies and recording patient information.
They also work directly with patients — explaining how special equipment works, preparing them for treatments, and more.
Some of the top skills occupational therapy assistants need include interpersonal skills, physical strength, and the ability to pay close attention to detail.
Occupational therapy assistants earn an average of $47,000 per year.
Educational requirements: Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant
Medical assistants work at hospitals, doctor offices, and medical practices to support doctors with administrative tasks and patient treatments.
Their daily tasks include providing care to patients, making calls and sending emails, ordering supplies, and more.
Medical assistants must be great at multitasking, organization, and customer service. They also need critical computer skills to help maintain databases and electronic medical records.
On average, medical assistants earn an annual wage of $37,500.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Medical Assisting
Dental hygienists clean teeth and examine the oral health of patients. They look at oral areas, the patient’s head, and neck for signs of oral disease, and they perform preventative dental treatments.
Some of their duties include examining teeth and gums, cleaning teeth, and providing patient education. Good dental hygienists need to have expert knowledge of dental conditions, strong motor function, and the ability to pay great attention to detail.
Dental hygienists earn an average salary of $63,500 per year.
The longer you work as a dental hygienist, your salary will increase. Dental hygienists with 10–19 years of experience earn around $5 more per hour. This equates to nearly $1,000 more per month and $12,000 more annually.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene
Fitness instructors are responsible for taking on one-on-one clients and providing them with workouts and meal plans. They must oversee the completion of exercises and routines to ensure clients succeed.
The employment of fitness instructors is predicted to increase by 19% from 2021 to 2031 — which is much faster than average. Thus, this is an excellent profession to get into with great job security.
The best fitness instructors have approachable personalities, a good level of physical activity, and the ability to inspire others.
Fitness instructors earn an average salary of $48,500 per year.
Educational requirements: Associate of Applied Science in Health Fitness Specialist
HVAC installers, also known as HVAC technicians, are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing air conditioning and ventilation systems.
Some of their day-to-day duties include diagnosing mechanical and electrical faults, cleaning systems, performing warranty services, and more.
They need to have a strong and in-depth knowledge of the residential and HVAC industry. They also need to be strong problem solvers and be great at managing their time since they’ll work with multiple clients.
HVAC installers earn an average of $52,500 per year.
Education requirements: HVAC Technician Associate Degree
10. Architectural drafter
Architectural drafters create technical drawings from the designs of engineers and architects. They need to incorporate measurements and building codes into their drawings so that architects and contractors can build functional structures.
As part of their job, they need to visit job sites to determine the types and quantity of materials required to build these structures.
Architectural drafters earn an average yearly salary of $48,500.
However, specific skills can increase their salaries. For example, Adobe Design, Adobe Illustrator, and computer-aided design skills can increase their earnings by 18%–23%.
Education requirements: Associate of Applied Science in Drafting and Design Technology
Food, law, education, and other careers
Chefs are responsible for leading, mentoring, and managing culinary teams. Some of their duties include planning menus, creating prepping lists for the kitchen crew, and managing inventory.
They also need to taste dishes to maintain high standards and develop new recipes. As a chef, you’ll work at restaurants or in hotels.
You’ll need to work well under pressure since the food industry is extremely fast-paced. You’ll also need to be creative to create delicious recipes and exciting menus.
Head chefs earn around $50,000 per year.
Education requirements: Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
Paralegals help lawyers and attorneys with case planning, development, and management. Some of their daily tasks include doing legal research, interviewing clients, and drafting legal documents.
They’re also responsible for administrative duties, such as organizing case files, maintaining a legal library, and more.
To be a great paralegal, you need to be detail-oriented, able to multitask, and have excellent memory to excel at research duties.
Paralegals earn an average yearly salary of $51,000.
However, the more experience and skills you gain, the more you’ll earn. Paralegals with 5–9 years of experience earn around $12,000 more per year than those with less than a year’s experience.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies
Preschool teachers are responsible for teaching preschoolers by developing programs suitable for them. They need to employ several teaching techniques, such as storytelling and educational play, to teach children.
Furthermore, after the initial teaching phase, they need to track children’s progress, improve their skills, and help build their confidence.
Some essential skills that all preschool teachers need include patience, storytelling abilities, classroom management skills, and a commitment to teaching the children to the best of their ability.
Preschool teachers earn an average of $35,000 per year.
Education requirements: Associate in Early Childhood Education
14. Funeral service worker
Funeral service workers help grieving families determine the locations, dates, and times for funerals or memorial services. They handle most of the details and help families decide whether a body should be buried or cremated.
To be a funeral service worker, you need to have business skills, be compassionate, and have excellent time-management skills since you’ll be working with several clients at a time.
On average, funeral directors earn a yearly salary of $50,000.
Educational requirements: Associate Degree in Mortuary Science or Funeral Service
15. Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers need to ensure the safety of aircraft. They do this by directing aircraft efficiently to minimize delays.
Their duties include managing the flow of aircraft in and out of the airport, guiding pilots during landings and takeoffs, and tracking aircraft when they’re in the sky.
Some key skills in air traffic controllers include decision-making, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
This job comes with high levels of responsibility since it can be the difference between life and death. As such, compensation is very high. Air traffic controllers earn an average of $95,000 per year.
Educational requirements: Associate of Applied Science and Air Traffic Aptitude Test
How to create a resume that stands out
If you already have an associate degree and are looking to apply for a job, you must ensure that your resume stands out.
A great way to do this is to include your hard and soft skills on your resume.
- Hard skills: These are the skills that can be measured and gained through training or work experience. For example, proficiency in Microsoft Office and writing skills are both hard skills.
- Soft skills: These are your people skills. It’s the skills that you grow as you engage with people and work in teams. For example, communication and leadership skills are considered soft skills
Including these skills on your resume will improve your employability and show prospective employers what you can bring to the table.