Earning your associates degree takes only a year or two, but the benefits will last you for your lifetime.
Find out if this degree can help you and your career.
Give Your Career a Boost A four-year degree is terrific, but not everyone has the time or funds for attending classes at a four-year private college, especially if they're already trying to balance time between a career and family.
Going for an associate's degree might be the answer.
Most community colleges, technical and trade schools offer two-year degree programs with on-campus and online classes.
A Two-Year Degree and Your Wallet An associate's degree can lead to increased future earnings, a brand new career, or you can just use it to start on your future bachelor's degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median weekly earnings for a typical high school graduate is $689, and for someone with a two-year degree it jumped to $798. This means that earning an associates degree could, on average, lead to an additional $5,668 in annual earnings.
Your degree could pay for itself in no time at all.
The College Board website reports that the common two-year diploma program at a public community college or vocational school is about $2,700 per year for tuition plus fees, which is quite a lot less than the $8,000 or so per year you might pay as an in-state resident at a four-year state college.
Reasonable tuition costs and the potential of increased income can be strong reasons for enrolling in a two-year degree by attending a local state school or through an online degree program.
Future Job Opportunities An associate degree is usually classified as either a transfer degree or an occupational degree.
A transfer degree is normally earned at the local community college with the intention of using the completed classes as the foundation for transferring to a public four-year college and earning a bachelor's degree.
An occupational associate's degree can also be obtained at a community college, but they can also be earned at a technical or trade school and are often used to get started in a new career.
Some of the more popular occupational degree programs are: - Healthcare - Computer Technician - Teaching - Graphic Designing - Business - Veterinary Assistant
Any of these programs (and the many others that are also available) can lead to a future career in an occupational field.
Not all positions require an actual associate's degree, but employers often prefer their new hires to have a completed degree, and in most job markets, that can be an important point.
In a few career fields such as web designing, an associate's diploma might allow you to work as an assistant to a professional designer while you gain actual work experience. Your degree could lead to future advancement opportunities.
Some employers may even provide a little financial assistance for you to continue on to earn your bachelor's degree at a later date.
Paying for your Degree The typical associate's degree consists of roughly 60 credit hours. This works out to about 20 classes that could be divided between regular classroom and online study.
And, depending on your program, could even include outside lab work or credit for practical experience.
Many programs qualify for US military education benefits including the GI Bill. Federal student aid also can apply to these types of degrees pursued at a legitimate college or school.
Earning your associate's degree can be the fasted path to getting started in a new occupation. It may also give your existing career a nice boost. Or it simply may get you a head start on your bachelor's degree.
Thanks to The College Board, FFB and Associate Degrees Online websites for help with the background for this brief article: Two-year diploma information