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Many people assume that the only path to a good living is to pursue a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, you don’t have to invest in a four-year degree or go to graduate school to land a good-paying job. As of 2020, 50% of young adults have obtained an associate degree, which opens up new career opportunities.

If you are considering entering an associate degree program but are not sure which one to pursue, you may want to consider each program’s potential financial return on investment (ROI). There are a number of associate degree jobs that pay well, offering you a high ROI.

High ROI on Degree Programs Is Good for the Economy

When prospective students choose degree programs with a high return on investment (ROI), it’s good news for the economy as well. Here’s why:

  • College graduates who choose programs with a better ROI increase their chances of finding better-paying jobs after graduation. They have more disposable income, which helps to fuel the local and regional economy as they pay for goods and services.
  • The graduates also pay more in taxes, which supports infrastructure and government programs that benefit everyone.
  • People who provide a better standard of living for themselves tend to take better care of their health because they can afford it. They are more likely to schedule doctor’s appointments for preventive care and see a dentist for checkups. Taking preventative care of your health leads to fewer claims on health insurance for major problems.
  • Better income levels also translate to better nutrition, fewer visits to the emergency room, and a lower risk of being involved in an accident. Less time away from work means more productivity, which also benefits the economy.

Choosing the right educational program is more than a matter of finding one that interests you. Your degree of choice can provide a number of benefits you may not see right away. If you are wondering why you should be concerned about benefits to the economy from choosing a degree, remember this — if the economy is a healthy one, you will reap the benefits.

An Associate’s Degree Represents Good Value

Pursuing an associate degree represents a good value for students. Associate-degree holders earn, on average, $6,864 more per year than workers with a high school diploma. The average earnings for workers increase with each educational attainment level, but that does not necessarily mean you should pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

In fact, an associate degree has the highest ROI of any degree type — by a substantial margin — since the benefits far outweigh the cost. The investment of both time and money to obtain an associate degree is lower than the investment required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. For some people looking to enhance their career skills, a more affordable two-year program is more feasible than a four-year degree program, and it can still help them advance their careers.

Associate Degrees With a High ROI

What types of jobs with associate degrees have a high ROI for graduates? Here are some examples of associate degree programs that will qualify you for a job with exceptionally high earning potential.

1. Funeral Service Education

If you are a compassionate person with an interest in managing your own business, consider funeral services, where you can help people honor their departed loved ones. To become a funeral service manager or director, an associate degree in funeral service education is required. Graduates then complete a one- to two-year apprenticeship. Funeral managers and directors must acquire a state or national license to provide services to clients.

2. Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Controller Associates Degree Median Salary: $122,950

All prospective air traffic controllers attend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s training academy in Oklahoma for its 12-week training program. It is not required to hold a related degree to be admitted to the program, but graduates of the associate degree in air traffic control will find they can relate to the material in the FAA training program much more readily.

3. Avionics Maintenance Technology

Have you been interested in aircraft for as long as you can remember? Maybe you should consider studying avionics maintenance technology. This two-year program will give you the training needed to work with avionics equipment, including installations, tests, and repairs. You will become familiar with radar, radio, and navigation systems, as well as the missile control systems of space vehicles and other types of aircrafts. You also need to obtain certification from the FAA.

4. Aerospace Technology

A related field is aerospace technology. Enrolling in an associate degree program in aerospace technology will prepare you for a career as an aerospace engineering and operations technician. This type of position involves working with and maintaining equipment used in the development, production, and testing of new spacecraft and aircrafts.

5. Video Game Design

Video games are big business, and people with the skills to design games can earn impressive salaries.

Video games are big business, and people with the skills to design games can earn impressive salaries. An associate degree program in video game design gives students a good overview of music, marketing, programming, and project management, which means they are ready to work as artists, musicians, coders, and designers in this growing industry.

6. Web Development

Graduates of an associate degree program in web development can look forward to a bright future. When it comes to job prospects for web developers, the expected growth rate over the next few years is more than double the rate for other computer careers and is three times the growth rate for all careers.

7. Computer Support Specialist

If you hold a computer support specialist associate degree and have a year or two of practical experience working with networks, employers will demand your skills. You may need to complete some further training, both formal and informal, to become a network specialist — but the effort will be worthwhile.

8. AutoCAD Drafting

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design (CAD) program that architects, engineers, and construction contractors use. A two-year degree in AutoCAD drafting is an excellent choice if you are looking to break into one of the following well-paying jobs:

  • Architectural and civil drafter
  • Electrical and electronics drafter
  • Mechanical drafter

9. Engineering Technology

Depending on your area of specialization, an associate degree in engineering technology can lead to a number of career options that pay exceptionally well:

  • Aerospace engineering and operations technician
  • Electrical and electronics engineering technician
  • Electro-mechanical technician
  • Mechanical engineering technician
  • Engineering technician

10. Nuclear Power Technology

Nuclear Power Technology Median Salary: $80,260

You don’t need to become a nuclear scientist to work in the field of nuclear power. Graduates from an associate in applied science degree in nuclear power technology program are qualified for career opportunities as nuclear technicians. This type of work involves assisting engineers, physicists, and other staff in nuclear production and research.

11. Petroleum Technology

If a career in the oil and gas or mining industry interests you, consider earning an associate degree in petroleum technology. Your investment in your studies will pay off when you are hired as a geological and petroleum technician, providing support to engineers and scientists in the work of exploration and extraction of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, and minerals.

12. Radiation Therapy

The minimum requirement to work as a radiation therapist is an associate of science degree with a major in radiation therapy. Most employers require that radiation therapists pass a certification exam within three years of completing their degree, but the exact requirements differ depending on the state licensing exam requirements.

13. Respiratory Therapy

Graduates from an associate degree in a respiratory therapy program can look forward to a promising job outlook, as job growth is expected to increase at a faster rate than average. An aging population — and the prevalence of respiratory issues that will likely come with that — are expected to fuel this career outlook.

14. Dental Hygiene

An associate degree in applied science with a major in dental hygiene will prepare you for a career as a dental hygienist. After graduation, you must pass a licensing exam to work in the field. Dental hygienists can perform oral health care assessments, carry out teeth cleanings, and consult with patients on their dental care.

15. Cardiovascular Technology

Cardiovascular Technology Median Salary: $87,170

An associate degree in cardiovascular technology prepares students for careers specializing in performing either noninvasive echocardiograms or invasive cardiac catheterizations. The demand for trained workers is expected to be strong as the population continues to age and rates of cardiovascular disease continue to rise.

16. Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Completing an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography will bring you an excellent ROI. Demand for trained workers is expected to grow at a much faster rate than other jobs. This career involves using medical equipment to scan a person’s body using non-invasive high-frequency sound waves.

17. Nuclear Medicine Technology

Nuclear medicine is among the top-paying careers you can enter with an associate degree. Enroll in a nuclear medicine technology program, and you’ll obtain the training necessary to create images of a patient’s body at a doctor’s request. The program also teaches students how to prepare and administer radioactive drugs when a doctor requests a contrast scan using dye.

18. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Assistant Median Salary based off of Associates Degree: $57,870

An associate of science degree with a major in occupational therapy assistant opens the door to an in-demand career. Graduates must pass a licensing exam before they can start working. Graduates of this program should have little difficulty finding employment once they meet the qualification standards.

19. Physical Therapist Assistant

Studying for a physical therapist assistant associate degree will prepare you for a high-demand, well-paid career in the healthcare field. The combination of the aging population and the increased interest in physical fitness will serve to keep the demand high for trained physical therapist assistants. If you are interested in helping people improve their mobility and recover from injuries or disease, you can enjoy a competitive salary as you do so.

20. Construction Management

Construction Management Construction management is among the top-earning associate degree programs in the country.

Construction management is among the top-earning associate degree programs in the country. Construction managers combine construction knowledge and business management expertise to oversee construction operations and ensure projects get completed efficiently. These tasks might include budgeting, project management, working with contractors and subcontractors, and coordinating with inspectors.

The construction industry as a whole is booming, so having an Associate of Applied Science in Construction Management can open up doors for higher-paying careers in this industry.

21. Logistics and Operations Management

An associate degree in Logistics and Operations Management can prepare you for a high-earning career. You may consult with companies to help them optimize their supply chain or manage a region’s distribution and logistics. Project management is another important aspect of many logistics jobs. Associate degree-holding project managers across a variety of industries earn exceptionally high salaries.

22. Information Technology

The field of information technology (IT) has a wealth of opportunities for career-seekers, as IT’s role continues to take on more significance in nearly every aspect of our lives. IT professionals also tend to be high earners, with some of the highest paying jobs being in administrative roles and cybersecurity. Consider getting a technology-related Associate of Applied Science to prepare you for an entry-level career in this opportunity-rich field.

Select an Associate Degree Program at Vista College

Select an Associate Degree Program at Vista College

Choosing an associate’s degree program that will give you a high ROI is important. You, your family and the community will reap the benefits of your decision. Whether you decide to further your education on campus or study online at your convenience, investing in yourself is one of the best decisions you can make to improve your future.

Take your time and consider the cost of your education and the time it will take to complete a degree program. Think about your potential future earnings, and if those earnings are projected to improve over the years. There is much to consider before you make your final decision.

Explore our online degree programs today to find the right launching pad for your career goals.

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