Seven Jobs You Can Get With an Associate Degree

associate degreeAssociate degrees have suddenly landed on the radar of many people who hadn't given them much thought. Why? The economy!

Once the recession knocked us all on our backsides, we needed to find a new way to compete in this tough job market. Many people suddenly realized the importance of education when you're trying to stand out. Associate degrees became particularly attractive for several reasons:

  • You can typically earn one in one to two years.
  • The shorter schooling period makes them more affordable.
  • They can land you a high-paying and in-demand job.
  • You can obtain one at community colleges, which are often more accessible than traditional universities for many people.

If you think a boost in your education credentials could be the ticket to finding the right job, consider one of these jobs. Keep in mind that some employers or states require a specific combination of a degree, experience and certification.

Here are seven jobs you can get with an associate degree, their average annual salaries and the number of workers they're projected to add between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1. Computer support specialists

Computer support specialists work in information-technology departments and respond to problems that employees have with technical equipment, most often computers. They troubleshoot software and hardware issues. Depending on their specific role in an organization, they might work as technical support or as a help desk technician. Technical support specialists work on site for an organization, handling employees' computer issues in person and participating in the other computer-related daily operations. Help desk technicians respond to customer phone calls and instruct the caller on how to troubleshoot the issue through detailed directions.

Projected growth 2008-2018*: 78,000

Salary**: $54,963

2. Dental assistants and hygienists

Dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists to prepare patients for the dental exam or assist with procedures. They are allowed to perform certain tasks but should not be confused with dental hygienists, who undergo separate training and often perform more involved tasks, such as administering anesthetics or working with the material used in fillings

Projected growth 2008-2018: 105,600 (assistants) and 62,900 (hygienists)

Salary:$38,359 (assistants) and $69,907 (hygienists) (Get a full dental assistant salary overview)

3. Engineering technicians

Engineering technicians address technical issues in a variety of engineering fields and they often assist engineers in the research and development of products.

Projected growth 2008-2018:25,800

Salary: $52,753 (Get a full engineering technician salary overview)

4. Occupational therapist assistants and physical therapist assistants

Assistants follow the instructions of occupational and physical therapists to help rehabilitate patients. They work with patients, and record and report their progress to the therapist.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 7,900 (occupational therapist assistants) and 21,200 (physical therapist assistants)

Salary:$42,416 (Get a full occupational therapist salary overview)

5. Paralegals

Paralegals research and gather information on legal documents and other relevant materials that attorneys need for trials and other proceedings.

Projected growth 2008-2018:74,100

Salary: $58,236 (Get a full paralegal salary overview)

6. Radiation therapists

Radiation therapists administer radiation therapy to patients based on the instructions provided by the radiologist. They monitor patients' prescriptions and progress to ensure they are in line with what the radiologist prescribed.

Projected growth 2008-2018: 4,100

Salary: $70,512 (Get a full radiation therapist salary overview)

7. Registered nurses

Registered nurses work in every health-care facility imaginable -- hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and countless others. They care for patients in a variety of ways, including administering medication as prescribed by a physician, monitoring their vital signs and assisting with other needs.

Projected growth 2008-2018:581,500

Salary: $67,217 (Get a full medical assistant salary overview)

*Projected job growth figures based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
**Average annual salary figures based on data from, powered by

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