Top 10 High Earning Positions that Require an Associate Degree

Top 10 High Earning Positions that Require an Associate Degree


Earning a decent living does not necessarily mean that individuals need a post-doctoral degree. In fact, many high paying jobs do not even require a Bachelor’s degree, making it easy for most individuals to shift careers and advance ahead.

Most of the highest paying careers that require only a two-year degree are those which require some sort of technical skills. In fact, many jobs that only require an associate degree pay far better than those requiring a bachelor’s degree. Below contains information on the top ten high earning positions that only require an associate degree.

  1. Computer Specialist

    In 2006, the average yearly wage for a computer specialist was $59,480, and the demand for such positions is expected to increase by 18 percent until 2016. Generally, computer specialists perform various different functions, including technical support and network security. Employers usually prefer that prospective employees have an associate degree in a computer-related field.

  2. Dental Hygienist

    The demand for dental hygiene assistants is expected to increase significantly through 2018 with yearly earnings averaging around $66,570 in 2008. It is also estimated that the dental hygiene field will grow by over thirty percent during the 2006-2016 decade.

    Dental hygienists are typically required to remove stitches, apply temporary fillings, take x-rays, and smooth and polish metal restorations. Most online degree programs prepare students for such procedures by providing complimentary laboratory work along with the required courses.

  3. Fashion Designer

    Believe it or not, a bachelor’s degree in fashion design is not required in order to become a fashion designer or just work in the field of fashion. With an associate degree and coursework in fashion, pattern-making, fashion history, Adobe Photoshop, sewing and tailoring, individuals will be able to pursue careers as fashion generalists or work for private fashion firms and/or major retailers. Most fashion career opportunities are located in major cities like Los Angeles or New York.

    In 2008, the average hourly wage for a fashion designer was approximately $35.00, or $61,000 annually.

  4. Personal Financial Advisor

    Individuals can easily become personal financial advisors by completing an associate degree in accounting, business, finance, economics or mathematics. Upon completion of an associate degree in any of the above fields, individuals will be able to apply for positions at investment firms. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of financial advisement is expected to grow by over 37 percent between 2006 and 2016.

    In 2008, the average earnings of a personal financial advisor was approximately $44.00 an hour or $69,000 annually. If individuals wish to earn higher salaries in the future, they always have the option of building on their associate degree by pursuing a bachelor’s degree program.

  5. Multi-Media Artist and/or Animator

    Most often, film, cartoon, television and/or web animation studios hire multi-media artists and animators. Upon completion of an associate degree in animation, multi-media or related fields, individuals are typically hired to create original sketches, storyboards or special effects.

    Average earnings for multi-media artists and animators in 2008 were approximately $30.00/hour or $56,000/annually. Occupational prospects are particularly strong for individuals who have specialized training in 2D and 3D animation. Individuals wishing to pursue this type of career path should enroll in software animation as well as illustration courses.

  6. Radiation Therapist

    Radiation therapy is generally administered to combat various types of cancers. Accordingly, radiation therapists’ duties include administering radiation treatment to cancer patients via external beams of high energy x rays. Before administering any treatment, radiation therapists are also required to inform patients of their specific treatment plan as well as answer any questions.

    In order to become a radiation therapist, only an associate degree or certificate in radiation therapy is necessary. Coursework in this field may include physics, algebra, computer science, and physiology.

    The field of radiation therapy is expected to grow by over 27 percent between 2008 and 2018, and the median annual wage for radiation therapists in 2008 was approximately $73,000.

  7. Registered Nurse

    Generally, most health field positions are stable, well paid and continually increasing in demand. Registered nurses, for instance, earn approximately $52,000 annually and only an associate degree in nursing along with a passing national licensing examination score is required to become one.

    Registered nurses’ duties include administering medication, therapies and treatments as well as starting intravenous lines for fluids. Nurses may also choose a specialty within a medical field, such as dermatology or gastroenterology.

  8. Ultrasonographers

    Ultrasonographers, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, use special equipment in order to administer high frequent sound waves, i.e. ultrasound waves, into specific areas of a patient’s body. These waves form an image, which is then interpreted by a physician. Common uses of sonograph equipment include monitoring pregnancy or the health of a fetus.

    In order to become an ultrasonographer, individuals are only required to undergo a two-year associate program, with mandatory coursework including anatomy, physiology, physics and medical ethics.

    In 2000, the majority of ultrasonographers made around $50,000, and the occupation is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2010.

  9. Engineering Technician

    Engineering technicians are responsible for solving technical problems in the areas of manufacturing, inspection, maintenance, construction, and quality control. Many specifically assist engineers and scientists in research and development.

    A two-year associate degree or certificate is required to become an engineering technician. However, coursework varies depending on the type of engineering technician individuals want to become. For instance, they may choose between becoming electrical engineering technicians, environmental engineering technicians or industrial engineering technicians just to name a few.

    Depending on the field, an engineering technician can make anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000 or more annually.

  10. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

    Although the name sounds intimidating, nuclear medicine technologists are essentially responsible for administering diagnostic tests involving radioactive materials in order to monitor organ functions. Only an associate degree in nuclear medicine technology is required to become a nuclear medicine technologist. Required coursework includes courses in the physical sciences, radiopharmaceuticals, and computer applications. Once an individual has obtained their two-year degree in nuclear medicine technology, they are also required to receive licensure, which varies from state to state.

    The demand for nuclear medicine technologists is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2008 and 2018, with annual earnings ranging from $57,000 to $78,000.

Top Ten Earning Positions Wrap-up

Overall, individuals do not even require a bachelor’s degree in order to make a decent living. Numerous occupations in other medical or financial-related fields also exist beyond the above list. With many online universities offering associate degree programs, this makes it even easier to develop a successful career. 

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