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What Jobs Can You Get With an Associate Degree?

Explore how associate degrees can help you meet your education and/or career goals. Uncover popular programs, salaries, completion times, costs, and unique benefits in this guide.
Lauren Ambrosio

Lauren Ambrosio

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on associate degrees—the often overlooked stepping stone to higher education and/or a better job. In this article, we delve into popular associate degree programs, their average salaries and completion times, as well as the essentials of what an associate degree requires. We'll also cover cost considerations and highlight the unique benefits that these two-year programs can offer. Read on to discover if an associate degree could be your ticket to a rewarding career.

What is an associate degree? 

An associate degree–also called an associate of applied science degree (AAS)–is a two-year undergraduate degree that can lead to improved employment opportunities and higher earnings. It is awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and some four-year colleges and universities.


Popular Associate Degrees with Average Completion Time, Average Salary, and Tuition Estimates

Major - Average Completion Time - Average Salary - Tuition* - Total Credits


Major Average Completion Time Average Salary Tuition* Total Credits
Accounting 28-44 months $45,560 $999 68
Business Management 20-40 months $50,244 $999 65
Computer Information Systems 24-44 months $55,510 $1,199 65
Construction Technology 20-44 months $48,210 $1,199 64
Criminal Justice 20-40 months $47,920-$66,020 $1,499 71
Early Childhood Education 20-44 months $30,210 $1,299 63
Engineering Technology 20-44 months $60,460 $1,199 64
Graphic Design 32-48 months $50,710 $1,199 65
Health Care Management 24-48 months $51,660 $1,299 62
Human Resources Management 16-28 months $45,630 $1,199 68
Industrial Electronics and Electrical Maintenance Technology 12-32 months $60,360 $1,199 64
Interior Design 28-48 months $41,243 $1,199 67
Medical Assistant 20-36 months $37,190 $999 60
Paralegal Studies 20-44 months $56,230 $1,299 69
Veterinary Technician 36-48 months $36,850 $1,499 73


* cost per semester at Penn Foster College


Read more: Why An Associate Degree Pays Off


What are the requirements to earn an associate degree? 

You’re eligible to graduate once you’ve completed your final proctored exam at the end of your fourth semester. In order to receive your AAS, you need to:

  1. Earn the total number of credits required for the degree program.
  2. Pass all your courses.
  3. Complete a minimum of 25% of the total credit hours through Penn Foster College.
  4. Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher in all classes.
  5. Finish all your courses within six years of enrollment.
  6. Meet all financial obligations. All payments must clear before you receive your degree.


How much does an associate degree cost?

Earning an AAS at Penn Foster costs between $999-1,499 per semester, which means that four semesters of classes cost between $4,000-6,000.


How long does it take to get an associate degree?

Finishing your AAS can take two years if you’re tackling school full-time but can take up to four years if you're taking classes at a slower pace.


Is an associate degree worth it? 

An associate degree can be a worthwhile investment, depending on your individual circumstances. Consider your educational and job goals, financial situation, and what you want to study.


Benefits of an associate degree include:

  • Takes less time to earn than a BA or BS
  • It’s cheaper than a four-year degree
  • You’ll learn skills you’ll use in the real world
  • Having a degree can help you get a job
  • You could earn more money with a degree
  • An associate is a stepping stone to earning a bachelor’s


Does an associate degree make me a college graduate? 

Yes, if you have earned an associate degree, you are considered a college graduate because you have successfully completed a post-secondary education program. An associate is a type of college degree, even though it is not a bachelor's degree (BS or BA). So, individuals with an associate degree can claim the status of being college graduates.


Jobs you can get with an associate degree

Job Title Degree Required Average Salary (USD) Job Description
Accounting Clerk AAS in Accounting $45,860 Maintain financial records, process transactions, and assist with audits. Learn more.
Law Enforcement Worker AAS in Criminal Justice $61,680 Work in various capacities within the criminal justice system. Prepare for a job in criminal justice.
Assistant Manager AAS in Business Management $40,950 Assist in overseeing daily business operations and managing staff. Should you study business management?
Computer Support Specialist AAS in Computer Information Systems $59,660 Provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. And work from home!
Construction Manager Assistant AAS in Construction Technology $66,406 Assist construction managers in planning, coordinating, and supervising construction projects. Can you study construction online?
Preschool Teacher AAS in Early Childhood Education $35,330 Educate and care for children ages 3-5 years old. Here’s 6 things you need to know before becoming a teacher.
Engineering Technician AAS in Engineering Technology $61,090 Assist engineers in designing, developing, and testing machinery, products, and equipment. Want to get better at working with tech?
Graphic Designer AAS in Graphic Design $57,990 Create visual concepts to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. Become a freelancer or work at an agency.
Health Care Administrator AAS in Health Care Management $54,000 Plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services. Learn more about a career in healthcare management.
Human Resources Assistant AAS in Human Resources Management $46,900 Assist HR managers with recruitment, record maintenance, and payroll processing. What else can you do with an HR degree?
Industrial Maintenance Technician AAS in Industrial Electronics and Maintenance $50,080 Install, maintain, and repair factory equipment, and other industrial machinery. And learn how to do it online!
Interior Design Assistant AAS in Interior Design $58,007 Assist interior designers in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. Mood board your future!
Medical Assistant AAS in Medical Assistant $38,270 Perform various clinical and administrative tasks in healthcare settings. What are your duties as a CMA?
Paralegal AAS in Paralegal Studies $59,200 Assist lawyers in their work, perform legal research, and prepare documents. What else does a paralegal do?
Veterinary Technician AAS in Veterinary Technician $38,240 Assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals. Your guide to becoming a certified vet tech.


Can you get an associate while you’re working? 

Yes! It is possible to complete your courses around your work schedule thanks to online learning’s flexible, self-paced platforms. Izabella Suarez graduated with an AAS in Early Childhood Education while working at a daycare. She said, “I was able to keep my daycare job, and a lot of the things that I was learning in class, I can also practice in the real-world setting.”


Listen to Izabella’s full interview here!


Read more: How to Balance Working Full Time with Online School


Can you get an associate if you’re a parent or caretaker?  

Yes! Since you can finish your classes at your own pace, you don’t have to worry about real life interfering with school. Flexibility is what makes online associate degrees great for parents.


Lauren Campion, LVT, Penn Foster Veterinary Program Grad, said, “When I first had [my daughter], I thought I would never finish. But it's all about the support you have around you and how dedicated you are. Just keep to a plan and realize that if you can’t finish what you planned to do, finish the next day or the next week. Just leave it open; keep going. You can always get an extension if something happens. There’s options [to help you]. If you have a plan and keep going, eventually, you’ll get it done!”


Listen to Lauren’s entire interview here!


What are transferrable credits? 

Transferable credits are credits earned from one school that can be applied towards a degree or program at another school. Whether or not credits are transferable is up to the receiving school and depends on factors such as the content of the courses, the grades earned, and whether the schools are accredited.

  • Penn Foster credits may transfer to some schools.
  • Check with the school you plan to attend.
  • Up to 75% of credits may transfer if you have a grade of 65 or higher.
  • Only equivalent courses will transfer.
  • For example, Algebra I would transfer if you earned a D or higher.


What is the easiest associate degree to get? 

The shortest major at Penn Foster College is the medical assistant associate degree which will take between 20-36 months to complete 60 credits. It’s also the degree with the least number of credits required to graduate. The average salary for a certified medical assistant with a two-year degree is $37,190.


If you’re looking for a way to get a better-paying job as quickly as possible, one option is the business management AAS, which takes as little as 20 months to complete and has an earning potential of over $50,000 a year. Another option is computer information systems, which is a job you can do from home. Earning an AAS in computer information systems could get you over $55,000 per year. If you are tech-savvy and either need or want to work from home, this might be a good fit.


What two-year degree makes the most money?

The top 8 associate degrees that can lead to the most money are:

  • Business Management – $50,244
  • Graphic Design – $50,710
  • Health Care Management – $51,660
  • Computer Information Systems – $55,510
  • Paralegal Studies – $56,230
  • Industrial Electronics and Electrical Maintenance Technology – $60,360
  • Engineering Technology – $60,460
  • Criminal Justice – $66,020


Source: BLS


Most in-demand associate degrees 


Kickstart your future with an associate degree

Earning an associate degree is a valuable investment that can help you jumpstart your career, change fields, or lay a strong foundation for further education. Our admissions team can help you find the program that best fits your needs. Call 1.888.427.6500 today to get started!


Read more: 10 Jobs You Can Get with an Online Degree


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