Applied science can span the spectrum from medical science to engineering. Many community colleges and some universities offer Associate in Applied Science degree programs in fitness and health, information technology, and surgery technology, which typically contain both technical and practical teachings. These programs often take two years to complete and can prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the workforce.
All programs require a high school diploma. An introductory class in computer science may be necessary for the information technology associate program, while a prerequisite math and science coursework and a professional-level CPR certification is often required to enroll in a surgery technology associate's.
Associate in Applied Science in Fitness and Health
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) programs in this field may integrate topics in sports, biomechanics, fitness, and exercise science. Students learn to design, assess, and lead exercise programs; they also explore exercise science theory and injury prevention. Programs may fall under similar titles, such as human performance, exercise science, or sport studies. AAS programs are typically designed so graduates can immediately enter the workforce.
Coursework includes science-based classes about the human body. Students also study health, personal training, and exercise programming. Practical learning is typically included and may take place in on-campus exercise facilities or through internships/externships. Topics covered may include the following:
- Group fitness instruction
- Exercise program design
- Anatomy and physiology
- Strength training
Associate in Applied Science in Information Technology
Information technology programs teach students a broad range of skills that relate to computers. Students learn comprehensive foundational skills, but they may also have the option to customize their coursework through electives or concentrations. This allows students to choose classes that will better prepare them for their individual career goals. Examples of areas that students can focus on include web development and networking.
Coursework often varies depending on the students' chosen concentrations, but most programs cover general computer science ideas and how computers work. Some classes may deal with the following subjects:
- Systems analysis
- Project administration
Associate in Applied Science in Surgery Technology
The AAS program in surgery technology trains students to work as surgical technologists who support surgeons and provide care to patients. Students learn to transport patients, set up surgical equipment, and maintain sterile surgical environments. Most programs require participation in surgical rotations at approved hospitals and medical centers.
Students spend their time participating in classroom lectures, laboratory simulations and clinical training. They learn legal and ethical aspects pertaining to the surgical field, medical terminology, and other information that prepares them for national certification. Courses may cover these areas:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Surgical procedures
- Operating room setup
- Patient preparation
Popular Career Options
AAS in Information Technology holders may pursue careers in the information technology (IT) sector. Additionally, several types of businesses have needs for IT experts. Possible job titles include the following:
- Technical support engineer
- Network analyst
- Network administrator
- Help desk support
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an 8% increase in employment from 2014-2024 for fitness trainers. Those with formal education and further credentialing, such as an AAS degree and certification, should have the best job opportunities. According to 2015 BLS data, fitness trainers earned a median annual salary of $36,160.
The BLS reported that employment for surgical technologists would increase 15% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations. The increased safety of surgery has led to more operations, and the need for surgeries in aging populations is expected to grow. As of May 2015, surgical technologists earned an average salary of $44,330.
The BLS stated that certified fitness instructors are typically preferred by employers at gyms and health clubs. There are several organizations that offer relevant certifications, and they may require applicants to take written and/or practical exams.
In some cases, credits earned in AAS programs can be applied towards bachelor's degrees in related areas. For example, Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) programs are available in such fields as exercise science. Students in these programs learn many of the same principles taught in AAS programs, including fitness testing, exercise program design, biomechanics and anatomy, in addition to more advanced coursework. These programs can serve as springboards into graduate or pre-professional programs.
The BLS reported that a few states regulate surgical technologists by requiring them to complete an accredited training program and earn certification. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting awards the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) distinction, and the National Center for Competency Testing confers the Tech in Surgery-Certified designation. Continuing education is typically required to keep the certifications valid.
BAS degrees in allied health or related fields are available for students who want to continue their healthcare education. Students can acquire leadership skills while diversifying their healthcare knowledge, which may lead them to more advanced positions.
Students of associate's degree in information technology can obtain immediate employment after graduation, or they may apply some or all of their credits to an applicable bachelor's degree program. BAS programs in information technology are available and build on the skills and information obtained in AAS programs. Students train for more advanced positions in the IT field by learning troubleshooting, technical communication and current trends.
There are several associate's degree programs offering an education in applied science, including fitness and health, information technology, and surgery technology. Career prospects are varied and include many options for certification depending on a graduate's profession. Students can also continue into a bachelor's program in the same or similar field.