Associates Degree Holder Average Salary

It only takes about two years to earn an associate’s degree, which means you can get started working in your field fairly quickly. Some people, however, worry that having this degree won’t translate to a good salary. Is there really that much of a difference between having an associate’s degree and simply having a high school diploma or GED? If you’re going to go through the trouble of getting a degree, shouldn’t you just stay in school to get a bachelor’s degree?

First, getting an associate’s degree definitely makes sense when you compare the salary you can expect with this education versus the salary you can expect without going through a higher education program. With a GED or your diploma from high school, you can expect to make around $652 weekly. Get your associate’s degree, and that weekly pay jumps to $785, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yes, you can make more money by getting a higher-level degree. On average, bachelor’s degree holders earn about $53,000 per year, while those with master’s degrees earn even more. However, this isn’t necessarily accurate in every field. In many fields, the gap between salaries is much smaller, so it actually makes more financial sense to get your associate’s degree. What degree field interests you? If your desired major is readily available for associate’s degree students, getting a bachelor’s degree may not make sense. In fact, in some fields, bachelor’s degrees are not even available at most schools.

Keep in mind that you can always go back to school to get your bachelor’s degree, so it may make the most financial sense to start with an associate’s degree. While you’re earning your $39,000 per year (or whatever the average is in your field), you can go back to school on a part-time basis, which allows you to earn an advanced degree while also working in your field. Sometimes, your employer will even offer tuition reimbursement funds to help cover the costs of school. Tuition reimbursement programs are increasingly common because employers want quality employees who seek to grow with the company. Providing tuition reimbursement is a way to “make an investment” on the employees and show a level of commitment to building a better team from the inside out. Many employers prefer to higher internally when new positions open, so tuition reimbursement is designed to be an incentive to strengthen the employees already on hand.

The average salary rates for associate’s degree holders varies great across not only industries, but also locations. In some areas of the United States you can earn much more than in others. Remember, many times this may be linked to your field of study. Where is demand highest for your specific industry? A higher demand for workers in your area means that you’ll be able to command a higher salary. Do some research before studying in any field to ensure that you’re comfortable with salary potential where you live or to ensure that you’re willing to move to an area where demand is higher. The area you currently reside in may have limited availability in your job field, and as a result lower paying positions, simply moving to an area with more of an industry for your job will yield not only more available jobs, but also a higher starting pay.

The world we live in today sees continuously rising costs and smaller returns on investments. Achieving an associates degree while working can allow for an immediate promotion. Additionally, with an associates degree on hand, better pay and the incentive for tuition reimbursement will lessen the burden while working towards a bachelors degree, if that’s the path you’re headed down. No matter what field interests you, getting an associate’s degree is the quickest way to start qualifying for better jobs, higher salaries, and promotions. The cost of your education may seem high at first, but over the course of just a few years, you’ll make back that money, since you’ll be offered a higher salary. In the end, many college students working towards a bachelors do not work in their field until they graduate. Attaining an associates and working in your field while getting your bachelors is one of the most effective ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd.

The Best Associate's Degrees Online

Purdue University

Purdue University — "Students who earn their online associate’s degree from Purdue Global enjoy all the benefits of a college-level education without the added complication or hassle of leaving home to attend classes. The cost of earning an associate’s degree is typically lower than that of a bachelor’s degree, and we are committed to helping you find the financial solution that is right for you."
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Liberty University

Liberty University — Liberty University offers more than 115 programs of study: undergraduate or graduate courses, residential, online or hybrid options. With over 12,000 residential students and more than 45,000 online students, Liberty is big, but class sizes are low, with a 23:1 student-to-professor ratio.
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Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College — "Our online programs include Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees as well as Diplomas and Certificates in our Schools of Health Sciences, Business, Design, Education, Justice Studies, Nursing and Technology. Students can learn through real-world projects, while receiving the same credentials and academic rigor as on-campus courses."
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South University

South University — "At South University, our campus and online associate’s degree programs can help you build a strong foundation in your field, fostering your personal, professional, and academic growth. Like all of our undergraduate programs, our associate’s degree online programs are built to accommodate your busy schedule, with coursework and academic resources available 24/7."
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Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University — "An online associate degree from CTU helps you develop a solid understanding of the basic skills required in your chosen field. It’s a great way to position yourself to take the next step at your job or even explore a new career direction. Plus, you can pursue your degree from the convenience of your home so it’s less of a disruption to your work and personal life."
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ECPI University

ECPI University — "ECPI University offers a wide range of Associate degree programs in fields that are poised for growth. Whether you have an interest in healthcare, computers, advanced manufacturing, culinary arts, or criminal justice, you can enroll, graduate, and be on the job in just 1.5 years through our accelerated programs."
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American InterContinental University

American InterContinental University — "AIU’s Associate degree programs are offered online as well as on-campus allowing you the flexibility you want so you can balance your work, family and education. Our Associate degree courses are structured to assist you in the development of your goals, and are taught by industry specialists who bring real-world perspective to the classroom and are available for one-on-one support."
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Grantham University

Grantham University — "Grantham delivers a high quality, relevant education and offers exceptional flexibility, accessibility and affordability to deserving, working adults trying to better their lives. Our goal is for you to be excited about your college experience and come away with a quality education that ignites a successful career."
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Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University — "Our flexible and accredited online degree programs are taught by faculty with real-world experience to prepare you to take advantage of growing career opportunities in a variety of high-demand fields. Gain relevant knowledge. Advance your career. Enhance your life in a changing, fast-paced world through higher education at Saint Leo University."
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Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University — "Prepare for the career you want by earning one of Southern New Hampshire University’s online associate degrees. In our 60-credit associate programs, you’ll learn from industry experts and gain the knowledge and skill set you need to pursue a new career or advance in your field."
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