The benefits of an associate degree are often overlooked. But why spend four years in college when you could kickstart your career in half the time? Top Ten Online Colleges presents 35 jobs you can begin with only an associate degree. These associate’s degree jobs will have you rethinking your next career move.

Do You Need Four Years of College To Get a High-Paying Job?

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Traditionally, high school graduates earn their stripes by pursuing a bachelor’s degree program. But is that the only path toward landing a good job? Not necessarily. There are many associate degree jobs to consider if you want to make a good living.

A Shorter Route: Associate Degree Programs

Interest in associate degrees has been growing in recent years. Money is tight. And people are keen on gaining industry-relevant skills without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a degree. But the benefits of an associate degree are more than just saving money. A two-year degree allows you to dive into your chosen field sooner. With the associate’s degree jobs on our list, you can start earning money fast. 

What Is an Associate Degree?

An associate degree, in a nutshell, is your ticket to higher education without the four-year commitment. It’s a two-year post-secondary program offered by community colleges and some universities. This type of degree has two primary purposes. The first is that it allows students to learn industry-relevant skills quickly. This can help them enter the job market faster than traditional bachelor’s degree programs. 

Associate degrees can also serve as a stepping stone to further education in a particular field. Many students pursue an associate degree and then transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree program. A lot of community colleges have partnerships with public universities in their regions. These partnerships let students seamlessly transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program. This can save a significant amount of time and money. 

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

A Look at Different Types of Associate Degrees

Just like bachelor’s degree programs, associate degrees aren’t one-size-fits-all. If you’re considering this route, it’s essential to understand the different degrees available. That’s because there are various types. And like a bachelor’s degree, each is tailored toward different educational goals and career paths. 

Associate of Arts (AA)

The Associate of Arts (AA) is often seen as a stepping stone toward more advanced degrees. It is typically pursued by students who plan to transfer their credits to a four-year institution. These associate degrees usually include courses in arts and humanities. You’ll study subjects like English, history, social science, and more. 

Associate of Science (AS)

An Associate of Science (AS) is also designed for eventual transfer to a bachelor’s degree. However, an AS is more focused on STEM fields. You’ll take courses in science and math-centric subjects. These may include biology, calculus, chemistry, etc. 

A Different Approach: Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) stands apart from the AS & AA. This degree prepares graduates for immediate entry into specific careers upon graduation. Think of roles like electrical engineering technician or medical coding specialist. 

If immediate employment upon graduation interests you, an AAS could be the right fit. You’ll gain hands-on skills that are directly applicable to your chosen field. These occupation-focused associate degrees are what we are primarily focusing on in this post. 

Specially Tailored Associate Degrees

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Beyond these broad categories, there are some specialized occupational associate degrees. These cater directly to specific careers. Some examples include:

  • Associate’s Degree Program in Cybersecurity
  • Associate’s Degree Program in Occupational Therapy Assistant Studies
  • Associate’s Degree Program in Flight Attendance and Travel
  • Associate’s Degree Program in Medical Billing and Coding

Is an Associate Degree Program Worth It?

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

For some associate’s degree jobs on our list, a high school diploma is all that is needed to start working. However, data from BLS reports that those with an associate degree earn more than those with only a high school diploma. 

How much more? The average weekly paycheck for a high school graduate is $863. However, those with an associate degree earn an average of $1,005 a week. This is a significant difference that equates to nearly $7,400 a year. 

The average associate degree costs a little over $3500 a year, according to NCES. This means your associate degree program will pay for itself within a couple of years. Many bachelor’s degree programs leave students burdened with debt for years. In comparison, an associate degree could be a solid investment in your future. 

Looking for a bachelor’s degree with a high ROI? Check out 5 Degrees That Offer a High Return on Investment

An associate’s degree is a two-year program that can catapult you into the job market faster than traditional four-year degrees. There are plenty of options ranging from general education to specialized career-focused programs. For a small investment, you can reap the financial rewards for years. So it’s no wonder associate degrees are gaining popularity.

Who Is an Associate Degree For?

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Most associate degree students are those who have completed high school or have a GED. They are typically interested in pursuing higher education but aren’t ready to commit to a bachelor’s degree program. Other students pursue associate degrees to gain industry-relevant skills for specific high paying jobs.

However, many adult learners also choose to return to school and pursue an associate degree program. Some are interested in switching careers or advancing in their current roles. Others may seek a two-year degree for personal growth and enrichment. 

Associate degree programs are for anyone, no matter what age or stage of life they are at. 

Are you thinking of returning to school to earn your bachelor’s degree? Check out the Top 10 Online Colleges for Adults

Can You Earn an Associate Degree Online?

Absolutely. There are a multitude of accredited colleges now providing associate degrees 100% online. This transition to digital education offers an excellent opportunity for those who need to manage work, family life, or other obligations. It allows them to pursue a degree while still earning a paycheck. 

Are you wondering about online bachelor’s degree programs? Check out 5 Benefits of Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Online

An online associates degree can be a game-changer, offering flexibility, affordability, and variety. And it can open the doors to lucrative career opportunities. Let’s break it down.

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Finding the Perfect Online Program

Your exploration begins with discovering the correct program that fits your requirements. There are some key factors when searching for suitable online associate’s degree programs. You will want to consider accreditation, tuition costs, and the length of the program. You will also want to know which online format is used and the specific courses you’ll be taking. With a bit of research, you can find an associate degree program tailored to your exact needs. 

The Flexibility Advantage

Earning an associate degree online comes with a major advantage – flexibility. Online associate degrees may be synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid (also called blended).

With synchronous online programs, you’ll have required login times and scheduled classes. You will complete your studies in the virtual classroom at the same time as your fellow students. Synchronous programs are ideal for those who want to pursue an online degree but need some structure. 

Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, are typically self-paced. There are no set login times. And while there are some deadlines, you complete your assignments when it is convenient. This means you can work on earning your degree 24/7 from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. This approach requires self-discipline. But it is ideal for those who want control over their academic journey. It’s also perfect for those who are already working full-time. 

Hybrid or blended programs are a combination of Asynchronous and synchronous learning. You may have some regularly scheduled classes and others you can work on in your own time. Some hybrid programs have on-campus components as well. These are great for students who want to attend school in person occasionally. 

Diverse Range of Programs on Offer

The variety available within these digital classrooms is immense. There’s something suited perfectly to everyone’s interests. You are not limited to only the programs offered at a community college near you. Instead, you can explore associate degrees from hundreds of schools nationwide. You could be living in New York but taking courses from an online community college in California. This means no relocation costs – just pure learning convenience.

And if you can’t find a program that interests you, there’s a solution to that too. Many schools will allow you to work with an advisor to create a personalized degree plan that aligns with your goals. 

Save Your Pennies

If cost has ever held you back from furthering your education, an online associate’s degree might be the answer. Associate degrees take less time, so you’ll spend less money than you would on a bachelor’s degree. Plus, community college tuition is usually a fraction of the cost of tuition at a four-year college or university. Additionally, studying virtually eliminates certain expenses. For example, you’ll have no costs for housing, meal plans, or commuting. Now how cool is that?

Considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree instead? Check out the Top 10 Best Online Bachelor Degree Programs

What Are The Highest-Paying Associate Degree Jobs?

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

The benefits of pursuing an online associate degree have been made clear. Flexibility, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness top the list.

An associate degree can be your ticket to a high-paying job without a long educational commitment. In the next few sections, we’ll explore 35 jobs you can do with only an associate degree. Each role demands specific skills, but all promise rewarding careers with competitive salaries. We’ll cover associate’s degree jobs in the following areas:

  • Healthcare
  • Business and Technology
  • Construction and Engineering

Finally, we’ll cover a few associate’s degree jobs that don’t fall under a specific category.

Ready to seize the reins of your destiny? Read on to discover how to boost your earning potential with an associate degree.

Medical Field Opportunities Beyond Doctors And Nurses

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

The healthcare industry is a goldmine of rewarding careers. Think you need to go to medical school to reap those rewards? Guess again. Some of the highest-paying jobs with associates degrees extend beyond the typical roles of doctors and nurses. These professions require only an associate degree, yet they offer impressive salaries.

For example, as a diagnostic medical sonographer, you’ll play a pivotal role in the healthcare team. You can specialize in a variety of areas. And you’ll earn quite well, too, with a median annual salary of over $75,000 a year. 

MRI Technologists are another group worth mentioning. They operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. And their work involves helping doctors diagnose patients so they can be treated correctly. The average MRI technologist with an associate degree earns nearly $62,000 a year. 

And let’s not forget the other financial perks of a career in healthcare. Most full-time employees in the healthcare industry also have excellent benefits packages. These typically include paid health insurance, retirement plans, and more. 

Below are some of the best-paying associate’s degree jobs you can get in the healthcare field.

High-Paying Associate Degrees: Healthcare Jobs

Associate Degree CareerAverage Annual Salary
Radiation Therapist$82,790
Dental Hygienist$77,810
Registered Nurse$77,600
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer$75,380
MRI Technologist$61,980
Respiratory Therapist$61,830
Occupational Therapy Assistant$61,520
Health Information Technologist$55,560
Physical Therapy Assistant$49,180
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist$46,660

Highest-Paying Associate Degree Jobs in Healthcare

Radiation Therapist

Median Annual Salary: $82,790

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Radiation therapists play a vital role in modern healthcare. They are responsible for administering treatments to patients suffering from diseases like cancer. Radiation therapists review treatment plans alongside oncologists or radiologists. And they compassionately explain each procedure to their patients. They need to monitor each patient’s condition during treatment sessions and ensure they are comfortable. Finally, they must maintain meticulous patient records. 

Necessary Qualifications and Skills

Becoming a successful radiation therapist involves possessing certain qualifications. Empathy and communication skills are essential. You’ll be interacting closely with patients dealing with serious illnesses. So compassion and patience go a long way in this regard.

Apart from these soft skills, physical stamina is also required. This is due to the nature of the work involved. As a radiation therapist, you must stand for long periods while operating complex machinery.

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations

Associate degree jobs within this field are promising. The job growth rate for radiation therapists is projected to be six percent through 2031. This is about the average across all occupations. It’s also quite rewarding on the salary front. The median annual wage is currently reported to be $82,790. That makes it the highest-paying associate degree job on our list in the healthcare sector. 

Educational Requirements & Licensing

An associate’s degree typically can start your journey as a radiation therapist. And it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. However, many programs are available in both traditional classroom-based and online formats. 

As a radiation therapist, you’ll be at the forefront of patient care. And you will be administering vital (and often lifesaving) treatments. This rewarding profession is not for everyone. But if you have strong compassion and a need to care for others, it’s one of the top associate degree jobs on our list. 

Dental Hygienist

Median Annual Salary: $77,810

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Are you interested in dentistry? It takes between 8-11 years to become a professional dentist. But what about becoming a dental hygienist? As a dental hygienist, you’ll earn an excellent salary while generally working 40 hours a week. Dental hygienists are critical members of the dental healthcare team. Chances are, you’ve spent a little time with one of these helpful professionals. Becoming a dental hygienist is one of the top healthcare jobs you can get with an associate’s degree.

Necessary Qualifications

To be a dental hygienist, you must obtain an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. And you’ll need to attend a college with proper accreditation. Additionally, all states require licensing to be a dental hygienist. The requirements can vary by state. However, they usually involve passing both written and practical exams. The good news is that an associate degree program in the field will prepare you for licensure as a dental hygienist.

Apart from a two-year degree and licensing requirements, you will need a few other skills to be a dental hygienist. For example, you’ll have frequent interaction with patients. So it would help if you had patience and good interpersonal skills. You should also have good physical stamina. As a dental hygienist, you will spend most of your workdays on your feet.

Potential Salary & Career Outlook

The salary prospects for those entering this profession are promising. Dental hygienist salary figures average about $77,810 a year. And most full-time detail hygienists get plenty of benefits. When it comes to job prospects, things look equally bright. Employment opportunities are projected to grow by nine percent over the next decade. This suggests plenty of dental hygienist career openings within the sector.

Registered Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $77,600

Education Needed: Associate Degree

One of the best jobs with an associate’s degree is as a Nurse. Nursing is one of the most valuable roles in healthcare. As an RN, you’ll provide vital patient care in various settings. This may include hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. What does a typical day look like for an RN? Duties and responsibilities largely depend on the setting and specialty. But in general, you will assess patients’ health problems and needs. Then, you will develop and implement care plans to help your patients get well. You may also administer medications and treatments prescribed by physicians. 

The Road to Becoming a Registered Nurse

You can begin your nursing career with an associate degree. But there are some additional requirements as well. Prospective nurses must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). This test ensures that entry-level nurses possess the skills for safe and effective patient care. The best associate in nursing programs will prepare you for this milestone.

Skill Set of Successful Nurses

RNs need more than just medical know-how. They require strong interpersonal skills. Nurses are the ones who interact most often with patients and families. So compassion, empathy, and communication skills are essential. 

Problem-solving abilities are crucial too. You will need to assess the condition of your patients accurately. This ultimately leads to determining their appropriate treatment plans.

Critical thinking comes into play when quick decisions have to be made during emergencies. So you’ll need to be good in a crisis as well. And if you work in a hospital, you’ll need physical stamina to keep up with the demanding environment. In essence, every day presents new opportunities for growth and learning as an RN.

Earning Potential & Career Outlook

The average annual earnings for an RN is currently over $77,000. Of course, salary can also vary depending on experience level and location. However, the career outlook remains positive in this field. About 203,200 new openings for RNs are expected each year over the next decade. As a nurse, you’ll have job security for years into the future. 

Are you interested in a bachelor’s degree in the healthcare field? Check out What Jobs Can I Get with a Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration?

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Median Annual Salary: $75,380

Education Needed: Associate Degree

The role of a diagnostic medical sonographer is integral to the healthcare field. These professionals provide critical imaging services that assist physicians in diagnosing patients. This career requires an associate’s degree and specific key skills.

Necessary Qualifications for this Role

Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer necessitates earning an associate’s degree in sonography. This two-year program encompasses both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. Some states also mandate licensure or certification. So always remember to check your state-specific requirements.

Apart from academic qualifications, successful diagnostic medical sonographers need excellent hand-eye coordination. And they must have meticulous attention to detail. They should be adept at operating complex equipment. Diagnostic medical sonographers also need empathy for patients who might find procedures stressful.

Career Outlook & Salary Prospects

The future looks bright for aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers and related associate degree jobs. Employment growth projections suggest a 10% increase through 2031. This outstrips the average occupational growth rates across all sectors.

In terms of salary expectations? You can expect to earn around $75,000 a year in this role. However, wages can fluctuate based on location and level of professional experience.

You can secure a high-paying job as a diagnostic medical sonographer with an associate’s degree in sonography. This role offers strong career growth prospects. And it is rewarding work involving patient care and complex equipment operations. Remember to check your state’s licensure requirements.

MRI Technologist

Median Annual Salary: $61,980

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Have you ever wondered about the folks operating those massive MRI machines? They’re known as MRI technologists, a key player in the healthcare field. Their role involves capturing detailed images of our body’s internal structures for diagnosis.

The Qualifications You Need

To become an MRI tech, you’ll need at least an associate degree in radiologic technology. And most states require certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Beyond these formal qualifications, there are some essential skills you should have. For example, you need to be good with people. You’ll be interacting with patients all day. And many of them will be intimidated and scared by the complex machinery you are using. You should also be detail-oriented and technically adept.

Your Potential Paycheck and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for this role is $61,980. As far as job growth goes, this area is projected to grow faster than average at 10 percent through 2031. In fact, there should be over 10,000 job openings for MRI technologists each year over the next decade.

Educational Pathways into this Field

If becoming an MRI tech sounds appealing, the starting point would be earning your associate’s degree. You’ll need to complete an accredited two-year degree program. You will also undergo some hands-on clinical experience under supervision.

Respiratory Therapist

Median Annual Salary: $61,830

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Another of the highest-paying jobs with an associate’s degree is that of a respiratory therapist. A respiratory therapist specializes in caring for individuals with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders. Respiratory therapists play pivotal roles within various healthcare settings. These typically include hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes. They assess, prescribe, treat, and monitor patients’ respiratory problems. And they help people suffering from diseases like emphysema and pneumonia. Let’s delve into the qualifications, skills, salary expectations, and job duties of this vital role.

Necessary Qualifications and Skills

An associate’s degree in respiratory therapy is required to become a respiratory therapist. The curriculum typically includes anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, among others. Beyond academics, essential soft skills are needed as well. You’ll need interpersonal communication abilities to interact with patients and their families. Attention to detail also comes in handy. That’s because you will be monitoring patients’ conditions. And you may often be dealing with complex medical equipment. Additional credentials may also be required. More information is available through the American Association for Respiratory Care.

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations

The career outlook for respiratory therapists is promising. According to BLS, respiratory therapy jobs will grow 14% over the next decade. This is much faster than average job growth across all occupations. This increase can be attributed largely to the aging population requiring more health services. The median salary for respiratory therapists in the US is around $61,000 annually. 

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Median Annual Salary: $61,520

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Helping people recover their autonomy and well-being is highly rewarding. If you agree, a role as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) may be the perfect option. Occupational therapy assistants help clients perform therapeutic activities under the guidance of occupational therapists (OTs). This role is an ideal way to break into the occupational therapy field. 

Occupational therapy assistants may teach children with developmental disabilities how to dress themselves independently. Or they may guide elderly adults through exercises designed to maintain mobility. This highly-rewarding associate degree job also pays well. So let’s delve into what it takes for occupational therapy assistants to succeed. 

Necessary Qualifications

To begin your journey as an occupational therapy assistant, certain qualifications must be fulfilled. An associate’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy assistant program is essential. But education alone isn’t enough. Licensing requirements for occupational therapy assistants vary by state. But they usually involve passing a national certification exam before practicing professionally. 

Skill Set Required for Success

In addition to a degree and licensing, occupational therapy assistants need several other skills. You will need effective communication abilities, problem-solving prowess, patient empathy, and physical stamina.

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations

The demand for skilled occupational therapy assistants continues to increase. In terms of salary expectations, the median annual wage is currently $61,520, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, earnings can fluctuate based on location and experience level.

Regarding job growth, this is one of the fastest-growing associate degree jobs on our list. The need for occupational therapy assistants and aides is at an all-time high. And demand is expected to grow 25% through 2031. This is much faster than the average for most occupations on our list. 

If you want a fulfilling, top-paying healthcare job, consider becoming an occupational therapy assistant. With the right associate degree and skills, this career is nearly recession-proof. You won’t just earn a great salary. You’ll have room for advancement and benefits. But the most important thing is occupational therapy assistants help people regain their quality of life. 

Health Information Technologist

Median Annual Salary: $55,560

Education Needed: Associate Degree

If you’ve visited your doctor lately, you’ve probably noticed everything has gone digital. Your medical chart and health records are computerized. But that doesn’t happen all by itself. Health information technologists are needed to organize and manage all that information. This may be an ideal role if you want to get into healthcare but want to avoid working directly with patients. 

Health information technologists are sometimes also called medical registrars. They use specialized software programs designed specifically for recordkeeping. These electronic health record systems (EHRs) track patient outcomes. And they ensure patient confidentiality and quality assurance. 

Digging into the Qualifications

An associate’s degree from an accredited program is the primary qualification required. This education will involve learning medical terminology along with anatomy & physiology. You may also need certification. Becoming a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) can display competence to potential employers. 

You’ll need solid technical skills and analytical abilities. But you’ll also need to be highly organized and have strong attention to detail. This is because you’ll be dealing with patient data. And mistakes can lead to serious health consequences. 

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations 

The job outlook for health information technologists is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is expected to grow by a whopping 17% through 2031. The average annual salary is around $55,000. But this varies depending on location, education, and experience. 

You may also be interested in: What is Health Informatics?

Physical Therapy Assistant

Median Annual Salary: $49,180

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Another great opportunity in healthcare is working in the physical therapy field. Physical therapist assistants provide patient care under the supervision of licensed physical therapists. PT assistants may also help educate patients on the proper exercise techniques to prevent further injury. Additionally, they may handle some administrative duties like managing paperwork and scheduling appointments. 

In general, though, PT assistants help patients perform therapeutic exercises. These are designed to help them improve their strength, flexibility, and range of motion. PT assistants may use ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, and other modalities to relieve pain and promote healing. They may even assist with patient evaluations and help develop treatment plans. 

Necessary Qualifications and Skills 

Becoming a successful physical therapy assistant requires specific qualifications. The first step is earning an associate’s degree through a physical therapist assistant program. These two-year programs combine academic coursework with hands-on clinical experience. 

Some states also require additional licensing. You may also need to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to practice. The best PT assistant associate degrees will prepare you for this milestone. 

In addition to an associates degree, strong interpersonal skills are crucial. As a PT assistant, you will work closely with patients who may be dealing with pain or other challenges. Being physically fit can also help. That’s because this job frequently involves lifting patients or heavy equipment. 

Career Outlook & Salary Potential

The demand for skilled physical therapy assistants continues to grow rapidly. And the PT field is expected to increase by 24% over the next decade. This is mainly due to our aging population needing more rehabilitative care. Because of this growth, PT assistant is one of the top associate degree jobs on our list. The average annual wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $49,180. 

The potential to advance in the PT field is tremendous. Those with an associate degree may wish to progress to a bachelor’s degree program in physical therapy. Such programs will help them increase their skills and knowledge. And they will prepare students for a graduate degree in PT. Ultimately, you’ll need a doctor of physical therapy degree to practice as a licensed physical therapist. While this takes several more years of schooling, this rewarding career is worth it. Licensed physical therapists make between $90,701 and $105,901 annually.  

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

Median Annual Salary: $46,660

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Becoming a medical billing and coding specialist is a quick way to start a stable and great-paying career. These professionals are essential to the healthcare industry. And they handle crucial tasks behind the scenes. Here are some specific tasks a medical billing and coding specialist may perform: 

  • Review medical records to ensure that all diagnoses and procedures are accurately documented.
  • Assign medical codes to diagnoses and procedures using standardized coding systems.
  • Submit claims to insurance companies for reimbursement.
  • Follow up on claims to ensure that they are processed and paid in a timely manner. 

The Pathway to Becoming a Qualified Professional

Community colleges offer certificates and associates degrees in medical billing and coding. These programs include courses in medical terminology, health data standards, and coding systems. You can sometimes begin an entry-level job in the field with certifications. Other employers may prefer candidates with a two-year degree. Such programs will prepare you with the specific skills needed to be successful in this role. For example, they may involve certifications such as:

Beyond academic qualifications, you should have strong analytical skills and attention to detail. You’ll be handling vast amounts of data daily, so accuracy is critical. 

Potential Earnings & Job Prospects

This field promises steady employment prospects. The growth rate is expected to remain stable at seven percent through 2031. And the median annual wage is $46,660. Full-time positions usually come with impressive benefits packages as well. 

The medical billing and coding field has a low barrier to entry and good earning potential. Additionally, there are numerous online associate degree programs available. These flexible and inexpensive programs are often self-paced. And they allow students to juggle their studies with other commitments. 

Tech And Business Industry Opportunities

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

If business and technology spark your interest, there’s good news. You don’t need to spend four years at college to secure a great-paying role. You can land plenty of high paying jobs in tech and business with only an associate degree. 

Are you wondering about job opportunities with a bachelor’s degree in business instead? Check out 5 Jobs With a Bachelor’s in Business Administration

For example, for tech careers such as cybersecurity, demand is increasing. This is due to escalating cyber threats worldwide. An entry-level cybersecurity analyst with an associate degree can make between $66,088 – $69,671 annually. And network administrators can make even more, up to $80,000 a year. These roles typically also offer attractive benefits packages. 

If you aspire to a career in business, you can start with an associates degree in business administration. Such programs will prepare you for roles like account manager ($66,522 a year) or insurance claims adjuster ($64,710 annually). And if you choose an accounting concentration, you can pursue a job as an accounting or payroll clerk and make over $43,000 a year to start. 

Finally, if you want to specialize in the creative side of technology, you also have an advantage. You can pursue high-paying associate degree jobs like web developer or designer. These associate’s degree jobs pay over $78,000 a year. And computer programmers can earn over $90,000 annually!

So we’ll cut through the noise and get straight into what matters. Let’s explore associate degree jobs for those in business and technology.

Highest Paying Associate Degrees in Business and Technology

Associate Degree CareerAverage Annual Salary
Computer Programmer$93,000
Network Administrator$80,600
Web Developer or Designer$78,300
Account Manager$66,522
Cyber Security Analyst$66,088
Insurance Claims Adjuster$64,710
Computer Support Specialist$57,910
Paralegal or Legal Assistant$56,230
Real Estate Sales Agent$48,770
Accounting or Bookkeeping Clerk$45,560
Payroll and Financial Clerk$44,760

Top-Paying Associate Degree Jobs in Business and Technology

Computer Programmer

Median Annual Salary: $93,000

Education Needed: Associate Degree

A computer programmer’s job is behind the scenes. It’s all about writing and testing code. This is what allows software applications to function properly. Computer programmers translate program designs into instructions that computers can follow. This is one of the best jobs with an associate’s degree on our list.

A significant part of this role involves crafting lines of code from scratch. You’ll also be adapting existing scripts where necessary. So precision is key because even small mistakes can affect application functionality. Debugging and maintenance also fall under a computer programmer’s responsibilities.

Typically, a computer programmer will work closely with other tech professionals. These include systems analysts, web developers, UX designers, etc. They may work for companies across a number of sectors. Computer programmers often choose to freelance as well. 

Necessary Qualifications for this Role

To get started in programming, you will need at least an associate degree in IT or computer science. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. However, skills are what count here. Those familiar with multiple programming languages like Python and Ruby have an advantage. And industry-specific certification like Java or C++ is strongly recommended. 

Career Outlook & Salary Prospects

There is some decline predicted over the next decade in the computer programming field. This is largely due to outsourcing. However, opportunities still abound. This is particularly true for those who stay updated on new programming tools and languages. 

In terms of salary expectations, the median annual wage for computer programmers is $93,000 a year. However, this varies widely depending on experience level. The highest 25 percent in this field earn more than $122k annually. But entry-level roles tend towards lower salaries until they gain more experience.

Network Administrator

Median Annual Salary: $80,600

Education Needed: Associate Degree

The digital world thrives on networks. And who keeps these vital systems running smoothly? Network Administrators. They’re the tech-savvy professionals maintaining and managing an organization’s computer systems. These include LANs, WANs, network segments, intranets, and more.

As a network administrator, you’ll maintain computing environments. You’ll identify system requirements, install upgrades, and monitor system performance. You’ll also safeguard data through the development of backup procedures. 

What Education Is Needed To Be a Network Administrator?

Candidates for this position should have a strong IT or computer science foundation. You’ll need a knack for problem-solving coupled with attention to detail. Most organizations prefer candidates with at least an associate degree. Depending upon the complexity of their network, some may require a bachelor’s degree too.

Certification programs like Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) can help validate your skills.

Your Paycheck & Future Prospects

Do you want to earn a sizable income while working in a high-demand field? Then being a network administrator could be right up your alley. The median annual salary hovers around the $80k mark. The field is expected to grow slower than average at three percent over the next decade. However, there are still about 23,900 openings for network administrators projected each year through 2031. 

Aspiring to be a Network Administrator? With an associate degree in IT or computer science, you’re on the right track. Add certifications like CCNA for added credibility. This job continues to be in high demand due to businesses’ growing reliance on IT infrastructure.

Web Developer or Designer

Median Annual Salary: $78,300

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Web developers and designers create websites that are aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. They meet with clients to discuss their website needs, goals, and preferences. They may also gather information about the target audience and competitors. Then, they build design concepts for the website, including layout, color scheme, typography, and imagery. 

Developing a website requires the use of coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Web developers may also use content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress to create and manage website content.

Another aspect of web design and development is testing and debugging. They test the site to ensure it is functional and error-free. And many web designers and developers provide ongoing maintenance and support for the website. 

The Right Qualifications for Web Developers and Designers

If you’re considering an associate degree in tech, consider one focused on web development or design. There are many online associate degree programs available. These will equip you with knowledge of programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You’ll also learn essential principles of good design.

An associate degree in the field is a great start. But you’ll also want to have a robust portfolio showcasing your projects. This can give you an edge over others in this competitive job market. Employers often assess potential hires based on their past work samples.

Potential Salary Expectations And Career Outlook

The median pay for web developers and designers stands at $78,300 per year. However, top earners can rake in more than $120,000 annually, showing there’s potential for sizable income in this area. Of course, your pay will depend upon factors like location and experience.

Web designers and developers may work alongside other creatives in a design firm. But they may also work for corporations of all sizes. Additionally, many designers choose to freelance.

Employment opportunities in this sector are expected to grow by 23% through 2031. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all other occupations. This rapid growth is due to increased demand for e-commerce sites and mobile applications among businesses. So this is a quick-start associate degree job with a lot of potential! 

Web design professionals blend their creativity with technical prowess. And these skilled workers are in high demand. With an associate degree from a reputable program and a robust portfolio, you’re set for success in this field. The job offers opportunities for advancement and lucrative earnings as e-commerce surges.

Account Manager

Median Annual Salary: $78,300

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Account Managers are integral to the smooth operation and growth of any business. This position acts as a bridge between clients and the company. Account managers ensure client satisfaction while identifying new opportunities for sales.

An account manager wears multiple hats. For example, they serve as their organization’s primary point of contact for customers. But they also manage portfolios, upsell products and services, and negotiate contracts. In addition, they work closely with other departments, such as marketing, sales, and product development. If complaints or disputes arise, they are responsible for handling them before they escalate further. This calls for patience and good communication skills. 

Necessary Qualifications

An associate degree in business administration can get you started on this career path. Some employers may prefer those with a bachelor’s degree. However, experience in customer service or sales could give you an edge over other candidates.

Certification programs like Certified Strategic Account Manager (CSAM) may also be worth considering. This credential can enhance your professional credibility. And familiarity with CRM software like Salesforce is often considered a bonus by many companies. 

Average Salary & Career Outlook

If we’re talking about money, the median annual salary for account managers hovers around $66k. Many account managers also earn commissions, which increase their yearly earnings. The top earners bag over $120k per year, whereas those in entry-level roles start out with lower wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job market for account managers is projected to expand by 10% through 2031.

Cyber Security Analyst

Median Annual Salary: $66,088

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Cyber Security is one of the fastest-growing areas in IT. The field is also known as information assurance or information security. And it has become vital for businesses that want to protect themselves against digital threats.

Cyber security professionals monitor computer networks for security breaches and suspicious activity. They also conduct risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. They often develop strategies to address these vulnerabilities. They may even provide training to other employees to help them understand how to protect sensitive information. 

Necessary Qualifications

An associate degree in cybersecurity equips students with a working knowledge of what is involved in the field. Such programs can prepare you for roles like cybersecurity specialist, IT auditor, and more. Many of these programs are also designed to lead seamlessly into a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree. 

In addition to a degree, certifications can also demonstrate your competence in the field. Some of the most common entry-level certifications include:

Many online cyber security associate degrees will prepare you to sit for these exams. And some may even be included as part of the program. 

Average Salary & Career Outlook

The job earnings and outlook for cybersecurity professionals are excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a bachelor’s degree in the field earn an average of $102,600 a year. However, even entry-level associate degree holders earn between $66,088 – $69,671 annually. Moreover, jobs in cybersecurity are plentiful. And the field is experiencing exponential growth. Employment opportunities are projected to increase by 35% through the next decade. 

Whether you are just starting out or looking for a career change, cybersecurity is a great choice. Government agencies and businesses are spending billions to protect themselves from cyber threats. Cybersecurity is the fastest-growing associate degree job on our list. And there are multiple opportunities for advancement in this ever-evolving field. 

Insurance Claims Adjuster

Median Annual Salary: $64,710

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Insurance claims adjusters evaluate and settle insurance claims. Their job is to ensure that policyholders and insurers get a fair deal. As an Insurance Claims Adjuster, your primary duty involves investigating claims that have been filed. You will typically interview clients about the incidents leading up to these claims. Once this concludes, you’ll decide whether the client’s claim is covered. And you’ll calculate the payout they should receive. At times, you may negotiate settlements with claimants. 

Insurance claims adjusters manage insurance claims from start to finish. They are responsible for ensuring all documentation is accurate and complete. And they keep all parties informed of the progress of the claim.

The Necessary Qualifications for This Role

Becoming an Insurance Claims Adjuster generally requires at least a high school diploma. But with an associate degree or higher, you can open up the possibility of more lucrative positions in this field. However, licensing requirements vary by state. And they may involve completing pre-licensing courses and passing state-administered exams. Some states mandate periodic continuing education to maintain licensure status.

In addition to academic qualifications, you’ll need strong analytical skills. This is essential for determining how much compensation will be awarded for each claim. Good communication and negotiation skills are also crucial in this role. You will often mediate between policyholders and the insurer. And you will need to explain complex policy terms in a way individuals can understand. Patience is key, as many claimants may be upset due to their loss. 

Potential Salary Expectations & Career Outlook

Employment is expected to decline by six percent in this area through 2031. Despite this, there will still be about 23,200 openings for claims adjusters each year over the next decade. Competition for claims adjuster’s roles may be stiff. However, opportunities will still present themselves if one is well-prepared. That’s why earning an associate degree can give you an advantage. 

Computer Support Specialist

Median Annual Salary: $57,910

Education Needed: Associate Degree

A computer support specialist is the backbone of an organization’s technology infrastructure. In their day-to-day operations, their role involves troubleshooting hardware and software issues. Then, they guide users through technical problems and ensure systems run efficiently. They may also spend time installing system components. A computer network support specialist may also conduct training sessions on new technologies.

Beyond solving immediate glitches, they’re also responsible for monitoring system performance. This helps prevent future hiccups from occurring, making them invaluable members of any IT team.

Necessary Education To Kickstart Your Career In This Field

An associate degree in information technology will get your foot in the door, but don’t stop there. Professional certification can also be beneficial. For example, CompTIA A+ is one program worth considering. This certification is the gold standard for tech support jobs. And it will add value to your resume in this competitive job market. 

To excel as a computer network support specialist, you need a combination of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills include understanding operating systems and network configurations. Soft skills involve communication and problem-solving abilities. An associate degree in computer science will equip you with these skills. 

Earning Potential And Job Market Outlook

The median annual salary for a computer network support specialist can be substantial. Those with an associate degree will typically start out making close to $58,000 a year. However, an experienced computer network support specialist can make much more depending on their location and skill level. This field is strong thanks to an expected growth rate of six percent through 2031. And increased reliance on technology means plenty of opportunities are on the horizon.

If you’d like to get into tech support but only have an associate degree in general studies, don’t worry. Many companies will provide on-the-job training for computer support specialists. If you have a firm grasp on technology, this is one of the highest paying jobs with a general studies degree you can pursue.

Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Median Annual Salary: $56,230

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Are you considering a career in the legal field? Becoming a paralegal or legal assistant may be an excellent choice. These professionals are indispensable to attorneys and law firms. They assist with case preparation, research work, and client interactions. They may draft pleadings, organize files, and maintain databases. And they must ensure client confidentiality remains intact throughout the process. They also interview clients to gather facts relevant to the case at hand. And they may assist during court proceedings if necessary. 

But what qualifications do you need? What kind of salary can you expect? And most importantly – how’s the job market looking for this profession?

The Skills Needed for Success

You will need an associates degree or a certificate in paralegal studies to work in the field. Some states have specific certification requirements. Because of that, you’ll need to find out the guidelines for the state you intend to work in. 

To thrive in this role, you need more than academic knowledge; practical skills matter too. For instance: you’ll need top-notch organizational skills. And you should have strong verbal and written communication skills. 

Some candidates may choose to pursue the Certified Paralegal (CP) certification. It is offered through NALA, which sets the national professional standard for paralegals. The American Bar Association also acknowledges this certification as a mark of excellence. You can also earn certifications through The National Federation of Paralegal Associations. 

Earning Potential and Job Market Outlook

The average annual earnings for paralegals is over $56,000 a year. Of course, salaries vary depending on location, area of specialization, and experience.

What about future prospects? The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an employment growth rate of a whopping 14% over the next decade. This is much faster than the average across all occupations. If you’re considering entering this line of work, your chances of landing a good job are excellent. 

Real Estate Sales Agent

Median Annual Salary: $48,770

Education Needed: High School Diploma or Associate Degree

Dream of helping others find their perfect home? A career as a Real Estate Sales Agent might be right up your alley. This role requires specific skills, qualifications, and education. But it also offers an exciting opportunity for growth and flexibility.

As a Real Estate Sales Agent, you’d spend days meeting prospective clients and showing them properties. But you may also help prospective buyers list their homes. You will negotiate contracts and prepare documents. And it’s crucial to keep abreast of changes within the industry, like shifts in mortgage rates and government policies. 

Additionally, you’ll need to maintain a strong network of other professionals in the industry. This includes lenders, inspectors, and others involved in the buying and selling process.

Education and Skills Needed for This Role

The requirements to become a real estate sales agent vary from state to state. But you’ll usually need to pass a state licensing exam. Technically, you only need a high school diploma to pursue licensing. But an on-campus or online associate degree in real estate can be highly beneficial. Real estate sales licensing exams are known to be rigorous. But a community college program can thoroughly prepare you for success. Such programs will offer classes like:

  • Introduction to Business
  • Real Estate Principles
  • Real Estate Law
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Property Management
  • Real Estate Law

Being a successful real estate sales agent involves building relationships. So you’ll need strong interpersonal skills to connect with clients effectively. Negotiation skills can’t be overlooked, either. You’ll often play the mediator between buyers and sellers.

The Salary Expectations & Career Outlook

Salaried roles are rare in real estate. Instead, most agents earn commissions from property sales. The median wage for sales agents is $48,770. But in this associate degree career, the sky’s the limit. Top earners can rake in well over $100k a year. 

The job market looks promising too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average growth rate of five percent through 2031.

Real estate sales agent is one of the few roles on our list where an associate degree is not always required. However, such programs can give you the experience and education needed to pass the state licensing exam. They can also give entrepreneurs an edge over the competition and help them earn top dollar in the field.

Accounting or Bookkeeping Clerk

Median Annual Salary: $45,560

Education Needed: High School Diploma or Associate Degree

An accounting or bookkeeping clerk is a key player in any business’s financial team. They’re the ones who keep all those numbers straight and ensure that every penny is accounted for. As an accounting clerk, your primary responsibility will involve keeping track of income and expenses. Typically, this is accomplished through specialized accounting software. You’ll maintain up-to-date records, reconcile bank statements, and prepare reports. 

Most accounting clerks issue invoices for products and services provided by the company. And they process payments from customers and vendors. Accounting clerks and bookkeepers may even assist in tax preparation. This requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure there are no discrepancies in the paperwork. 

Educational Requirements and Licensing Needs

Sometimes, you can become an accounting clerk with no college education. But most employers prefer candidates with at least an associate degree. Some colleges offer two-year programs in accounting. These programs are specifically designed to train students to become proficient in skills like:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Spreadsheet Software 
  • Payroll Accounting 
  • Tax Accounting 

Licensing is not required to enter the field. However, you may want to pursue certifications after completing an associate degree. These programs demonstrate your commitment to the profession. And they can enhance your credibility with potential employers. Thus, your chances of landing a great-paying job will increase. Some common certifications include:

Your Potential Earnings & Career Outlook

Accounting and bookkeeping clerks earn an average salary of over $45,000 annually. Your mileage will vary depending on experience level, location, and other factors. Those who go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting have an average annual salary of $77,250. So it’s worth continuing your education. 

In terms of career outlook, technological advancements have had some impact. Job opportunities are expected to decline by five percent through 2031. However, around 197,600 openings are still expected each year over the next decade. Those who can acquire the most skills have the best chances of employment. This is especially true for those adept at accounting-related software applications.

Interested in a bachelor’s degree in accounting? Have a look at the 20 Best Online Accounting Degree Programs in the Nation.

Payroll and Financial Clerk

Median Annual Salary: $44,760

Education Needed: High School Diploma or Associate Degree

A payroll and financial clerk is a key player in any organization. They handle the critical task of ensuring employees receive accurate pay on time. A typical day may involve:

  • Processing paychecks based on hours worked by each employee
  • Reconciling bank statements against company records
  • Preparing reports detailing income and expenditures
  • Maintaining accurate files regarding all monetary transactions 

The Necessary Qualifications for This Role

An associate degree in accounting or a related field usually opens doors to this career path. Some employers might consider candidates with relevant work experience instead. No specific licensing requirement exists. However, obtaining relevant certifications could significantly enhance your prospects. For example, through Payroll.Org, students can earn two different certifications:

Strong mathematical skills are paramount. And proficiency in computer software like Microsoft Excel or QuickBooks is essential. In addition to technical know-how, you’ll need to be detail-oriented. Familiarity with federal tax laws can also be beneficial for these associate’s degree jobs

Potential Salary & Career Outlook

The average salary is over $44,000 a year for financial and payroll clerks. As far as the job market outlook goes, there may be a slight decline through 2031. This is primarily because automation technology continues advancing at a rapid pace. Despite this, over 130,000 job openings are expected each year on average over the next decade. 

Considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business? See The Best Business Degree Online: Which College Is Right for You?

Engineering and Construction Industry Opportunities

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Are you considering a career in construction or engineering? You don’t need years of college to get started. These top associate degree roles are more than just jobs. They’re stepping stones to a rewarding career. The potential for growth, lucrative salaries, and fulfilling work is available with a two-year degree. 

This section discusses everything from high-paid air traffic controllers to solar photovoltaic installers. Each job presents its own unique challenges and rewards.

Below, we’ll highlight ten careers in construction and engineering. And the journey to each begins with an associate degree. Such programs can equip you with the vital skills you need to begin a high-paying career within 24 months or less. Let’s get started.

Top-Paying Associate Degree Jobs in Construction and Engineering

Associate Degree CareerAverage Annual Salary
Air Traffic Controller$129,750
Assistant Construction Manager$75,291
Aircraft Equipment Technician$65,550
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician$63,640
Mechanical Engineering Technologist$60,460
Industrial Engineering Technician$60,220
Civil Engineering Technician$58,320
Wind Turbine Service Technician$56,260
HVACR Technician$48,630
Solar Photovoltaic Installer$47,670

Associate Degree Jobs in Engineering and Construction

Air Traffic Controller

Median Annual Salary: $129,750

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Imagine overseeing engineering projects of a different kind – those that involve aircraft. An air traffic controller does just that, managing and coordinating the flow of airplanes to ensure safety and efficiency. Air traffic controllers are soaring high in the job market. And they have the highest paying job with an associate’s degree on our list.

Air traffic controllers communicate with pilots. They provide them with instructions on takeoff, landing, and flight paths. And they are constantly monitoring air space using radar and other equipment. They also respond to emergencies such as engine failures and security threats.

The Roadmap to Becoming an Air Traffic Controller

To become an air traffic controller, you’ll need either an associate degree or significant work experience. Those planning to pursue an associate degree must attend an approved AT-CT school. Some programs are based on campus. However, earning an online associate degree in air traffic control is also possible. These programs are perfect for those with other commitments like work or family responsibilities. Your studies will focus on topics like:

  • Aerodynamics 
  • Aviation Weather
  • Tower Operations
  • Airport Surveillance Radar

In addition to an associate program, this role has several other requirements. Prospective candidates must pass pre-employment tests, including a medical examination and background checks. You must also be selected to attend training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. 

After your training at the Federal Aviation Administration, you’ll complete one to three years of hands-on experience. The final step is to pass an exam to become a certified professional controller. And you will need to maintain your credentials throughout the entire duration of your employment.

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations In This Field

The median annual wage for air traffic controllers is quite impressive. Certified controllers make an average of $129,750 a year. This makes it one of the best-paying associate degree jobs available. In terms of growth, only a one percent increase is projected through 2031. However, over the decade, about 2,400 openings for air traffic controllers are projected each year. 

Being an air traffic controller is a high-stakes, rewarding career in engineering. A college degree is not required. However, the field is competitive, and only the best are chosen to attend the Federal Aviation Administration Academy. An associate degree in air-traffic control can improve your chances of being among them. 

Assistant Construction Manager

Median Annual Salary: $75,291

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Are you drawn to the construction industry and have a knack for management? An assistant construction manager could be your ideal role. An assistant construction manager’s duties vary depending on the size and nature of the project. But they typically include assisting in planning efforts and coordinating tasks among workers. They help the construction manager solve problems that crop up on-site. And they ensure compliance with safety regulations. In some cases, they may take full charge if required. 

The Qualifications You’ll Need

Assistant construction managers typically need at least an associate degree in construction management. Some employers might lean towards candidates boasting a bachelor’s degree. However, others value relevant work experience more.

Some states require assistant construction managers to be licensed. And certifications can make you more marketable to prospective employers. Some of the most common construction management certifications include:

Potential Earnings & Job Outlook

According to, the median annual wage is $75,291 for assistant construction managers. The job outlook appears promising as well for these associate’s degree jobs. Employment is expected to grow by around eight percent through 2031. This is faster than average growth rates across all occupations.

Looking for a rewarding career in construction? Consider becoming an Assistant Construction Manager. With the right degree and skills, you could earn over $75,000 a year.

Aircraft Equipment Technician

Median Annual Salary: $65,550

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Within the aviation industry, an Aircraft Equipment Technician holds a pivotal role. These experts are responsible for installing, inspecting, and maintaining aircraft equipment. They ensure that everything is functioning properly and is in compliance with safety regulations. 

The aircraft equipment technician also performs repairs. They may replace worn parts, lubricate equipment, and troubleshoot issues. This involves using hand and power tools and following specific schedules and protocols.

Necessary Qualifications for this Role

To get started in this role, you’ll need a comprehensive understanding of aircraft systems and components. An associate degree is often the starting point. You can opt for a degree in aviation maintenance technology or similar fields. Many community colleges offer such programs to prepare you for this career. Just be aware that the college must be an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. You will also need to meet with the Federal Aviation Administration and take relevant certification exams.

Beyond academic qualifications, practical experience can be invaluable. Look for programs that offer internships or apprenticeships. Hands-on exposure will equip you with many of the skills you need for the job. 

Dexterity is another skill that comes into play frequently. You will be handling small parts and tools. So you’ll need precision and good hand-eye coordination. You also need strong problem-solving abilities. Troubleshooting issues will be a big part of what you do on a daily basis.

Career Outlook And Salary Expectations

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians typically make over $65,000 annually. The field is projected to grow six percent through 2031. This is about as fast as the average growth for all occupations. The career outlook is excellent. Over 13,000 aircraft equipment technician openings are expected each year over the next decade. 

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician

Median Annual Salary: $66,640

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Craving a career in circuits and wires? An Electrical and electronic engineering technician might be your ideal role. These technicians assist engineers in designing devices and systems powered by electricity. They troubleshoot problems and maintain existing setups. They oversee engineering projects from prototype creation through final testing. And they help to ensure compliance with quality standards.

In some roles, they may interact directly with customers. They explain technical details about the company’s offerings. In this way, they are also acting in the role of a technical sales engineer. 

Necessary Qualifications for this Role

The first step toward this career is an associate degree. There are numerous two-year programs in electrical or electronics engineering technology. These degrees are designed specifically for technicians. Some high schools also provide vocational courses related to this field. Additionally, familiarity with software like CAD may give you an edge over other candidates.

A successful technician understands schematics, blueprints, and manuals to help them troubleshoot issues effectively. Attention to detail can make all the difference while working on intricate circuits. And teamwork ensures smooth project execution. 

Besides formal education, you’ll need strong problem-solving skills and excellent manual dexterity. The ability to apply science concepts practically is another must-have skill set. Strong communication skills come into play as well. You will often act as an intermediary between fully licensed engineers and clients.

Potential Salary & Career Outlook

The median annual wage of electrical & electronics engineering technicians hovers around $63k+. However, this can vary depending on the industry sector, experience level, etc. The job outlook is projected to remain the same over the next decade. And about 11,000 jobs in the field are expected to be available each year over the next decade. 

Mechanical Engineering Technologist

Median Annual Salary: $60,460

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Looking to kickstart a career in engineering? The role of a mechanical engineering technologist might be the perfect fit for you. This job involves applying your skills and knowledge across various areas of engineering. You’ll be working with fully licensed mechanical engineers. And your job may include everything from designing complex products to overseeing crucial projects.

For a mechanical engineering technologist, every day brings new challenges and rewards. The duties involved can vary greatly depending on where you work. You may design machinery using CAD tools. Or you might be testing prototypes under different conditions and analyzing the results. 

Other duties may include preparing layouts to show the locations of machines and equipment. You may even work on estimating the overall costs of various projects. 

Educational Requirements Needed

Some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree, depending on the complexity of the job role. However, an associate degree serves as a solid starting point. You must have a solid understanding of mathematics and physics to succeed in this role. Proficiency in CAD software is vital, as this technology is essential to the field. Associate programs will prepare you with these critical skills. For example, typical courses in a mechanical engineering tech associate degree include:

  • Engineering Technology Foundations
  • College Trigonometry
  • Dc and Ac Electricity Dynamics and Kinematics
  • Engineering Materials
  • Manufacturing Processes
  • Thermodynamic Systems
  • Intermediate CAD Applications

Your Earning Potential & Job Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for this role is $60,460. If you aim to become a fully licensed engineer down the line, an associate program will also prepare you to pursue your bachelor’s degree. If you follow this up with additional certification, your earning potential will soar. For example, fully licensed mechanical engineers make around $95,300 a year. 

As for career outlook, a broad range of areas require the expertise of mechanical technologists. Mechanical engineers can dive into industries like automotive manufacturing, energy firms, and other sectors. 

Industrial Engineering Technician

Median Annual Salary: $60,220

Education Needed: Associate Degree

An industrial engineering technician applies science and engineering principles to assist industrial or mechanical engineers. They help oversee engineering projects for efficiency. And they support the design, development, and implementation of manufacturing processes and systems. 

Some specific tasks an industrial engineering technician may perform include:

  • Conduct time and motion studies
  • Develop work instructions
  • Implement process improvements
  • Troubleshoot manufacturing issues
  • Maintain production data

The Right Qualifications For The Job

You’ll need at least an associate degree in industrial technology or a related field for this role. Some vocational schools also offer post-secondary certificates that can help you get started too. Many accredited online colleges offer programs in industrial technology. Such degrees explore classes in process controls, automation, and manufacturing. 

A few programs have additional specializations in a particular aspect of industrial technology. You may even earn certifications in one or more of these focus areas. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an ABET-accredited program.  

Apart from academic qualifications, successful technicians need to be keen problem solvers. You’ll be dealing with complex engineering products daily. You’ll also need excellent communication, math, and observational skills. Most technicians are highly analytical and detail-oriented. 

Career Outlook & Salary Prospects

The annual wage for industrial engineering technicians is a little over $60k a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Career growth remains steady over the next decade. And about 6,600 job openings are expected each year through 2031.

The industrial engineering field offers numerous fulfilling high paying jobs. And additional education and certification can significantly increase your potential earnings. For example, those with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering make over 95,000 a year. This makes it one of the best long-term associate degree careers on our list. 

Civil Engineering Technician

Median Annual Salary: $58,320

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Ever wondered who helps design and plan the infrastructure projects we use daily? That’s right, civil engineering technicians. They’re involved in everything from highways to bridges, utility systems, and other public works. Civil engineering technicians perform a variety of duties each day. They may prepare drawings using CAD software or assist in calculating material costs. Sometimes, they may even oversee projects directly, depending on their experience level.

Education & Skills You Need for Success

An associate degree in civil engineering technology is needed for entry-level positions. You’ll obviously need an interest in construction. And a firm grasp of mathematics is crucial since you’ll use this skill daily when working on projects and designs. Good communication skills are also vital. You’ll often be collaborating with engineers and construction workers.

Beyond these soft skills, being tech-savvy can give your career a real boost. Knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) software is particularly valuable. Many associate programs designed specifically for aspiring technicians provide training in CAD.

Salary Expectations & Career Outlook

The median annual salary for civil engineering technicians is $58,320. As far as job growth goes, there’s good news. Growth is projected to remain steady over the next decade. And around 6,500 openings are expected each year for civil engineering technologists. 

But what does future progression look like? One potential long-term goal could be becoming a fully licensed civil engineer. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and additional certification will increase your earnings. For example, licensed civil engineers rake in about $88,000 a year. 

Wind Turbine Service Technician

Median Annual Salary: $56,260

Education Needed: Associate Degree

A career as a Wind Turbine Service Technician, or wind tech, offers numerous fulfilling high paying jobs. This exciting role involves working with complex engineering products like turbine subsystems. And wind techs are in high demand due to the growing interest in renewable energy sources. A typical day in this field may include duties like:

  • Installing new equipment
  • Performing routine inspections
  • Ensuring components are functioning properly
  • Documenting findings using computerized reporting tools Performing scheduled maintenance visits
  • Replacing worn-out parts

The Necessary Qualifications and Education

Wind techs typically attend community colleges or technical schools. Often, you can enter the field with only a postsecondary certificate in wind energy technology. However, many potential wind techs choose to earn an associates degree. Some technical schools even have onsite wind turbines that students use to gain hands-on training. 

Beyond formal education, additional certification may be necessary, depending on your state’s regulations. Even where licensing is not mandatory, certification can boost your employability prospects. Check out the North American Board Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) site for more info. 

Successful wind turbine service technicians need mechanical aptitude. But they also need physical stamina because they often climb tall structures. Troubleshooting abilities are crucial since diagnosing issues with intricate machinery happens regularly. Additionally, strong problem-solving capabilities and attention to detail are essential. 

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations

The median annual wage for this role is over $56,000 per year. But salaries vary widely based on factors such as experience level and geographic location. This career has the potential for significant job growth over the next decade. The field is expected to increase by 44% through 2031! That means that wind techs can look forward to a stable and rewarding career.

Are you considering a long-term career in environmental engineering technology? Working as a wind turbine technician is a great place to start. These pros are in high demand due to the rise of renewable energy. And with explosive job growth expected, it’s a stable choice for those with mechanical aptitude. 

HVACR Technician

Median Annual Salary: $48,630

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Ever wondered about the professionals who ensure your home or office stays cool in summer and warm during winter? They’re called HVACR technicians. And they install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. 

HVACR techs perform a variety of tasks. Most will be hands-on and involve equipment upkeep and installation. Some techs might oversee system design and planning based on specific building needs. Others may transition into sales roles, becoming technical sales engineers in the field. 

The Education and Skills You Need To Succeed as an HVAC-R Tech

Most employers prefer hiring candidates who’ve completed some formal training. This could be through a community college, vocational school, or trade school. These programs will lead to certification or an associate’s degree. And they typically last anywhere from six months to two years. 

Certain states may require licensing and a background check. And the EPA requires all techs who handle refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. At many schools, the curriculum is designed to prepare students for the certification exam. 

Some students may wish to complete an apprenticeship. Several groups sponsor apprenticeship programs. A few of these include:

Understanding complex engineering products like cooling systems is crucial for this associate degree job. But problem-solving skills are also vital. Diagnosing issues with these units can be quite challenging. Besides that, fitness matters too, since the work is often physically demanding. 

Career Outlook & Median Salary Expectations For This Role

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for HVACR techs is $48,630. The field is expected to increase by five percent over the next decade, so the career outlook is solid. Plus, there are projected to be over 40,000 job openings yearly for HVACR techs through 2031. 

If long-term job stability ranks high on your list, becoming an HVACR technician is a solid choice. One of the best things about this role is that the more you learn, the more you earn. For example, top earners in the field can make up to $89,000 a year. 

Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Median Annual Salary: $47,670

Education Needed: Associate Degree

The world is transitioning towards renewable energy. As a result, solar photovoltaic installers are more in demand than ever before. This field offers numerous fulfilling careers. And it is especially fitting for those with an interest in environmental engineering.

An installer’s typical day involves assembling solar modules. They mount them onto roofs, connect wires into arrays, and link the system to the building’s main power grids. In addition, they’re often responsible for performing maintenance checks. They must ensure everything runs efficiently and operates at peak performance levels.

Educational Pathways & Licensing Requirements

Becoming a solar photovoltaic installer requires certain qualifications and skills. A high school diploma often suffices to kickstart this career path. However, some employers prefer candidates with associate degrees or certificates. These are offered through vocational schools and community colleges. And some high schools even offer courses geared toward this profession.

Additionally, certification can further enhance your job prospects. You can obtain this through the North American Board Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Many states also require installers to hold licenses or certificates.

Installers work with complex engineering products such as solar panels and inverters. So, strong math and mechanical abilities are essential for success. 

Career Outlook & Salary Prospects

According to BLS, the median annual wage for Solar PV Installers is $47,670 a year. However, reports the average earnings are between $64,925 and $97,100 annually. Your wages will depend largely on your level of experience and location.

The job market is growing much faster than average at 27%. This is expected to continue through 2031 due to increasing reliance on alternative energy sources.

Miscellaneous Associate Degree Jobs 

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

We’ve discussed associate degree jobs in healthcare, technology and business, and engineering and construction. In this final section, we’ll cover a few additional associate degree careers that don’t fit in the previous categories. And they might be a game-changer for many.  If none of the career choices above have piqued your interest, consider these four options. These top miscellaneous associate degree jobs can lead to lucrative careers in hospitality, firefighting, and more. 

Not everyone has the capability or means to pursue a college education that lasts four years. And that’s okay! The world of associate degrees is rich with opportunities and high-paying jobs waiting to be explored.

Top-Paying Associate Degree Jobs: Miscellaneous

Associate Degree CareerAverage Annual Salary
Technical Writer $78,060
Flight Attendant$61,640
Lodging or Hotel Manager$59,430

Technical Writer

Median Annual Salary: $46,660

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Do you enjoy writing? Do you have a knack for communicating complex information in an understandable manner? If you answered yes to these two questions, technical writing could be your ideal career path. In this field, you’ll create documents that help people understand various processes or products.

You might spend your day meeting with experts to learn about the latest developments in a product or service. Then, you’ll translate those findings into comprehensive, user-friendly guides and manuals. This may even involve creating diagrams and charts to provide a visual aid to readers. It’s also not uncommon to review and update existing content. This ensures it remains accurate, relevant, and up to current standards and practices.

A technical writer can work across a broad range of industries and fields. In fact, they might work in any setting where there is a need for clear and concise technical documentation. They might be part of an organization. But they may also work for themselves as freelancers or consultants. Some of the most common industries technical writers work in include:

  • Technology companies
  • Aerospace and defense
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Government agencies

The Qualifications You Need

An associate degree can help you kick-start your career as a technical writer. Most prospective students choose English, communications, or journalism. But an applied science associates degree with writing-focused courses can also give you the edge.

Professional certifications like Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) may be an advantage. This credential is offered by the Society for Technical Communication. And it can bump up both your job prospects and earning potential significantly.

The key factor for success is to take complex information and express it in plain language. However, other skills can also help you shine in this role. For example, you’ll need to possess strong research skills. And familiarity with writing software like Google Docs, Grammarly, Hemmingway, and Microsoft Word are a must. 

Career Outlook And Salary Expectations

The demand for skilled writers continues to rise in today’s tech-driven world. The exact salary figures for this role depend on experience level and the company you work for. But the median annual wage is over $78,000 a year. And the job market is expected to increase by six percent through 2031.

Flight Attendant

Median Annual Salary: $61,640

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Dreaming of a career that lets you travel the world? Being a flight attendant might be your ticket. Your day could start by conducting pre-flight inspections of emergency equipment. Then, you’ll move on to demonstrating safety procedures to passengers before takeoff. Once in the air, you’ll be serving meals, snacks, and beverages. You will also assist with any issues that arise, including medical emergencies. Finally, after landing, you will ensure everyone disembarks safely. But it’s not all jet-setting and glamor; this role demands specific qualifications, skills, and training.

Necessary Qualifications for Flight Attendants

A high school diploma or GED is usually enough to get started in this field. However, airlines often prefer candidates with an associate degree from a community college. Some prospective flight attendants pursue an associate program in tourism or hospitality management. But some schools offer flight attendant and travel career degrees and certificates. 

As expected, communication tops the list of vital attributes for successful flight attendants. Strong problem-solving abilities help them handle unexpected situations. And physical fitness is essential due to the nature of the job involving long hours of standing and occasional heavy lifting. Adaptability also plays a key part as schedules and time zones change frequently. And because flights aren’t limited by borders, being multilingual can also boost your chances. 

The Pay Scale and Job Outlook

In terms of salary, expect a median annual wage of around $61,000. But remember, earnings vary depending on the airline and your experience level. BLS anticipates a remarkable 21% growth rate in this field through 2031. This is much higher than most other occupations. And over 18,000 openings for flight attendants are expected each year over the next decade.

Lodging or Hotel Manager

Median Annual Salary: $59,430

Education Needed: Associate Degree

Ever considered a great-paying career in the hospitality industry? Becoming a lodging or hotel manager could be an option. This role involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of hotels, motels, and other establishments. Your job is to ensure guests have a positive experience and that the hotel is profitable. Here are some specific tasks that a hotel manager may perform:

  • Hire, Train, and Manage Staff
  • Ensure Guest Satisfaction and Comfort
  • Monitor Expenses and Maximize Revenue
  • Maintain Facilities
  • Develop and Implement Policies

The Roadmap: Qualifications & Skills Needed

An associates degree in hotel management or hospitality is recommended to begin a successful career as a lodging manager. Some employers might lean towards candidates holding a bachelor’s degree. But don’t let that deter you – good associate degree jobs exist too. 

In terms of skills needed for this role, leadership abilities top the list. This is followed closely by excellent customer service skills since guest satisfaction is key here. And yes, information technology proficiency also counts. Digital booking systems are revolutionizing the field.

Earning Potential & Career Outlook

The average salary range varies widely based on location and establishment size. But the average annual wage reported by BLS is $59,430. The career outlook seems promising as well. In the post-pandemic era, people want to travel more often to make up for lost time. The industry is expected to grow by 17% over the next decade. 


Median Annual Salary: $50,700

Education Needed: Associate Degree

A career as a firefighter is not for the faint-hearted. It’s physically demanding and emotionally challenging. But it can also be incredibly rewarding at the same time.

Fighting fires is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the duties involved in being a firefighter. On a daily basis, they respond to a variety of incidents. These include everything from car accidents and hazardous material spills to health emergencies. Furthermore, part of their responsibility involves educating the public on health and safety. And they must perform regular maintenance on equipment to ensure it’s ready for use at a moment’s notice.

Qualifications Required to Become a Firefighter

Becoming a firefighter typically starts with earning your high school diploma or GED. But some fire departments prefer an associate degree in fields like applied science or fire technology. Such associate degrees are available both online and on campus. 

In addition to educational requirements, you should possess physical strength and endurance. You’ll need to be brave under pressure and have problem-solving skills. These are crucial when dealing with life-threatening emergencies that require quick decisions. The ability to communicate effectively during stressful situations is another key skill. You will need to relay important information during emergencies where every second counts. 

Understanding medical procedures also comes in handy since many calls are related to medical crises instead of fires. Providing first aid before the paramedics arrive could mean saving someone’s life. Because of this, some fire departments require candidates to have certifications. Many of these are offered through the National Fire Protection Association.

Career Outlook & Salary Expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters make around $50,000 a year. Growth is expected to remain steady over the next decade. And about 28,000 openings are predicted each year through 2031. 

Can I Get Financial Aid and Scholarships To Pursue an Associate Degree?

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Yes! Financial aid and scholarships are available to students pursuing an associate degree. Here are some options that may be available:

Federal Student Aid

Associate degree students may be eligible for federal financial aid. This includes grants, loans, and work-study programs. To apply, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

State Aid

Many states offer financial aid programs for students pursuing an associate degree. These programs may include grants, scholarships, or other forms of financial assistance. You can contact your state’s higher education agency to learn more about available programs.

Institutional Aid

Colleges and universities often offer their own financial assistance programs. These are typically grants and scholarships. These programs may be based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria. Check with the financial aid office at your community college for more information.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Some employers offer tuition assistance programs to their employees. This is especially true for students pursuing an associate degree to advance their current roles. These programs may cover some or all of the costs of tuition, fees, and books. Check with your company’s HR department to find out more. 

There are many options for students pursuing an associate degree to help pay for their education. It’s essential to research all available possibilities. You’ll want to apply for financial aid and scholarships as early as possible to maximize your chances. 

See Also: 

Final Thoughts on the Best Associate Degree Jobs

high paying jobs with just an associate degree

Exploring the world of jobs with an associate degree is a thrilling journey. It’s about uncovering new opportunities and understanding the skills needed to excel. And we’ve answered the question, “What jobs can I get with an associate’s degree?”

We’ve uncovered scores of high paying jobs with an associate’s degree. You’ve discovered that accounting clerks, dental hygienists, and developers can earn great money. You’ve seen how engineering and HVACR techs can have successful careers with just an associate degree. These are just a few of the many associate degree jobs available right now!

An associate degree is more than just a piece of paper – it’s your ticket to countless exciting roles. So whether you’re fresh out of school or looking for a career change, remember this: Your potential is limitless!

Ready to take the next step towards securing one of these associate degree jobs but need help getting started? Look no further! Top 10 Online Colleges offers detailed information on schools offering such degrees. You’ll find tuition costs and other relevant details about online college programs. And you’ll have all the tools you need to make an informed decision about your next step. Check out more of the resources below.

This concludes our article on the best-paying jobs with an associate’s degree.

Top Ten Online Colleges Staff