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Five Associate Degrees with High Earnings Potential

Higher Education Articles November 29, 2012

Are you looking for a degree with a high earnings potential? Bachelor and master degrees are not the only ones that will pave your way to a career with a high income potential. About twenty-eight percent of associate degree holders have earned as much as graduate degree holders. (Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and the Lumina Foundation). In this article, I will take a look at five associate degrees that have excellent earnings potential.

Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Do you aspire for a career in the legal field, but do not want to go through the grind of a law school degree? Then, an associate degree in paralegal studies is your best bet (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). If you have already earned a bachelor degree, albeit in an unrelated major, a certification program will do the trick. However, don’t pursue a paralegal associate degree program unless you are keen on pursuing a paralegal career. Coursework includes legal writing and research, criminal law, ethics, and civil procedure. The job description includes assisting attornies in preparing drafted contracts and cases (Source: Department of Labor). It may involve fieldwork to collect statements and facts and statements for the purpose of evidence in court. On average, a paralegal with an associate degree can expect to make $1.7 million over a lifetime (40 years) spent in the profession (source: a 2011 study by Georgetown). While a paralegal draws an average annual salary of $46,730, the average annual salary of workers in the 10th and 90th percentiles are $29,390 and $75,400 respectively.

Associate Degree in Accounting

If you are good with number-crunching and looking for an associate degree with high earnings potential then take a look at an associate degree in accounting that can pave the way to a career as a bookkeeping clerk (source: U.S. Department of Labor). Coursework is geared to make you adept at gathering, recording, analyzing, interpreting, and communicating information about a company’s or client’s financial performance and risks (source: College Board). It makes you proficient in keeping the books and recording financial transactions. On average, a bookkeeping clerk with an associate degree can expect to earn $1.3 million over a lifetime (40 years) spent in the profession (source: a 2011 study by Georgetown). While a bookkeeping clerk draws an average annual salary of $34,740, the average annual salary of workers in the 10th and 90th percentiles, are $21,450 and $53,250 respectively.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

If you enjoyed a game of cops and robbers when you were a child and looking for an associate degree with high earnings potential then take a look at an associate degree in criminal justice that can pave the way to a career at maintaining law and order (source: U.S. Department of Labor). Coursework includes police society, criminal law, victimology and criminology that geared at helping you understand everything you need to know about the justice system. As a police officer you will be adept at law enforcement, arresting suspects, and preparation of cases and testifying in court. On average, a police officer with an associate degree can expect to make around $2.2-2.4 million over a lifetime (40 years) spent in the profession (source: a 2011 study by Georgetown).  The average annual salary of police officers in the 10th and 90th percentiles are $32,080 and $84,980 respectively.

Associate Degree in Graphic Design

If you enjoyed creativity and looking for an associate degree with high earnings potential then take a look at an associate degree in graphic design that can pave the way to a career with an entry-level position as a desktop publisher. Coursework includes typography, history of graphic design, and graphic design studio that geared at helping you learn computer and design skills needed to create the layout of a website, CD jackets, magazines and books among others. On average, a desktop publisher with an associate degree can expect to make $1.5 million over a lifetime (40 years) spent in the profession (source: a 2011 study by Georgetown). While a desktop publisher draws an average annual salary of $36,800, the average annual salary of workers in the 10th and 90th percentiles are $21,320 and $59,560 respectively.

Associate Degree in Nursing

If you are looking for an associate degree with high earnings potential along with a rewarding career field then take a look at an associate degree in nursing that can pave the way to a career as a registered nurse. Coursework is geared at making you adept to caring for disabled and sick people along with promoting better health. You will learn valuable skills in jotting down a patient’s symptoms and medical history, providing medicine and treatment, and setting up care plans. On average, a registered nurse (RN) with an associate degree can expect to make $2.3 million over a lifetime (40 years) spent in the profession (source: a 2011 study by Georgetown). A registered nurse draws an average annual salary of $65,950, the average annual salary of workers in the 10th and 90th percentiles are $44,970 and $96,630 respectively.

(Wage Statistics source: U.S. Department of Labor, May 2011).

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