Career Information for an Associate Degree Program

Jul 12, 2021

An associate's degree is typically completed in two years of postsecondary study. Some students pursue an associate's degree at a local community college as a way to save money or stay closer to home before transferring into a four-year college to complete their bachelor's degree. There are many careers available to graduates of associate's degree programs.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs are typically offered at community colleges, technical schools and some 4-year colleges. Students enrolling in these programs are often required to submit copies of high school transcripts or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). They may also have to take standard assessment tests to determine their proficiency in math, English and science.

Associate's degree programs are usually offered as one of two types: occupational degrees or transfer degrees. Occupational degree programs prepare students for immediate work after graduation, while transfer degree programs prepare them for transfer into 4-year colleges for bachelor's degree programs.

Career Veterinary Technician Funeral Service Manager Mechanical Drafter
Education Requirements Associate's for entry-level Associate's for entry-level Associate's for entry-level
Other Requirements Certification or licensure usually required 1-3 years of apprenticeship training Voluntary certification available
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)* 16% -6% -8%
Median Salary (2020)* $36,260 annually $74,200 annually $58,270 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Options

Some career-focused fields offer a certificate of completion after one year, allowing candidates to gain work experience while earning the associate's degree. Associate's degree programs often allow students to complete portions of the program through distance learning. Some of the most common fields offering associate's degree programs include the following:


This field offers several associate-level careers. Some of the possibilities include veterinary technician, registered nurse, ultrasound technician or dental hygienist. Healthcare programs typically offer a curriculum of courses, lab studies and clinical education.

Business Administration

Some opportunities in this field include accounting, funeral management and human resources. Completing a 2-year program in such an area could lead to a variety of business-related positions, including management, and could allow students to transfer easily into 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration programs.

Technology and Manufacturing

These are both growing fields with many career choices for individuals who complete a degree program at the associate's level. Some of the many possibilities include drafting technology, heating and air conditioning technician, industrial engineering technician and mechanical designer. As with the business administration program, completing an associate's degree in the technology and manufacturing field allows for an easier transfer into the appropriate bachelor's program.

There are a number of career options for those who complete an associate's degree. Careers in business administration, technology and manufacturing, and healthcare can be pursued with two years of postsecondary study. An associate's degree can also lead to a career as a veterinary technician or funeral services manager.

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