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3 Associate Degrees That Lead to High-Paying Jobs

Topics: Data & Research
associate degrees
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Want to earn the big bucks and skip the hefty student loan debt? Pick the right two-year program, and you can earn more than many bachelor’s degree holders in half the time.

Not all associate degrees lead to high-paying jobs, of course. (Ask any early childhood education major, and they’ll tell you that while their job makes the world a better place, it doesn’t exactly lead to riches.) But if you earn a two-year degree in certain majors, you can pave a career path that leads to solid earnings.

PayScale’s College Salary Report shows that associate degrees in technology, engineering and healthcare fields lead to the highest earnings for alumni, with technology majors topping the list. This is a change from years past, in which healthcare careers dominated the ranking of high-paying associate degrees — although those degrees are still a solid choice for students who want to help others while earning a good salary.

3 Associate Degrees That Lead to High-Paying Jobs

1. Software Engineering

Unsurprisingly, employers in highly technical industries often weight knowledge over a four-year degree. Classes in this major focus on providing those foundations, and typically include coding and math. Common job titles for this associate degree include Web Developer, Software Engineer and Product Marketing Manager.

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Median Mid-Career Salary: $102,100

2. Networking & Telecommunications

Want to become a Network Engineer, Systems Engineer, or Network Operations Manager? This two-year degree can help you get there by teaching you maintain routers and other equipment and provide support to users.

Median Mid-Career Salary: $97,300

3. Electrical & Computer Engineering

Students with this associate degree can either go on to get their bachelor’s or go directly to work as an Electrical Technician, Instrument & Controls Technician, or Field Service Engineer.

Median Mid-Career Salary: $80,800

Other high-earning associate degrees include Construction Project Management, Management Information Systems, Industrial Design and Robotics & Automation.

Will That Associate Degree Lead to a High-Paying Job?

If earning potential is a factor in your choice of major, it’s worth it to do a little digging before you commit to a degree program. Most community colleges offer career services, including a list of employers who hire alumni and recruit on campus.

But don’t just take their word for it. Dig into LinkedIn to see what kind of educational backgrounds current employees boast. Then, reach out to your network to connect with people who’ve worked in your dream job and for your target companies. They’ll be able to tell you if companies really hire candidates with the degree you’re contemplating … or whether you’d be better off concentrating on another degree or school.

For more majors that pay you back, see PayScale’s College Salary Report: Highest Paying 2-Year Degrees.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you earn one of these degrees? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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