Top 10 jobs for associate degree holders & who's hiring
Many students opt to begin their higher education dreams in community college, where it can cost less to earn an associate degree than it might at a university. You can typically transfer that degree to another college where you can apply it towards a bachelor’s degree.
But you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to land a great job in your chosen field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job growth for occupations requiring only an associate degree to increase by 11% from 2016 to 2026.
Join us as we discuss some of the top associate degree jobs. Get to know the average salary that people in these full-time and part-time roles receive. Plus, learn the hard and soft skills that will guarantee you success in your career.
1. Dental hygienist
Median salary: $77,810
As a dental hygienist, your primary role is to help people maintain good dental hygiene or oral health, typically in a dentist’s office, using equipment such as lasers and ultrasonic tools to polish and remove stains on patients’ teeth.
Skills: You must have good communication, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. Empathy, compassion, attention to detail, and strong motor function are also necessary. For hard skills, you must know how to use specialized equipment to deliver patient care.
Education: This is an entry-level role requiring an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. You may also need to be licensed by your state.
2. Web developer
Median salary: $78,300
As a web developer, you'll collaborate with clients or stakeholders to understand their requirements and translate them into functional websites. This involves using various programming languages and frameworks to build interactive and visually appealing web pages.
You’ll also stay up to date with the latest web development trends and technologies, ensuring that websites are optimized for performance, responsiveness, and user experience across different devices and browsers.
Education: Although you can land an entry-level role with a high school diploma and completion of a web developer boot camp or certification course, an associate’s degree in computer science, software development, or a related field can also help.
3. Veterinary technician
Median salary: $36,850
These professionals provide nursing care to injured animals. They also work with veterinarians to administer vaccines and other treatments. Other responsibilities include performing laboratory tests, administering anesthesia, taking X-rays, and writing documentation.
Skills: Good communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills are necessary here, as are empathy and compassion in dealing with pets and their owners. For hard skills, you must know how to handle laboratory equipment, take and process biological samples, and administer medications.
Education: An associate’s degree in science or a related field is required for this entry-level job. You must also pass a state-issued exam and register with your state.
4. Computer support specialist
Median salary: $57,910
When computers don’t work as expected, support specialists help users solve the problem. These experts troubleshoot different components and software and direct them to appropriate personnel for special care as needed. Support specialists also train people on using new software or hardware.
Skills: Good communication, problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking, and analytical skills are required for this role. A support specialist must also understand computer systems and hardware.
Education: A high school diploma is often all that’s required for this entry-level role, but an associate’s degree in information technology or a related field will give you a boost in the eyes of hiring managers.
5. Medical sonographer
Median salary: $77,740
A medical sonographer uses specialized imaging equipment to direct sound through the human body to create images or videos of what’s going on inside. In this role, you also prepare patients for the sonography, monitor patients’ safety during the procedure, share sonograms and findings with other healthcare professionals, and sanitize medical equipment.
Skills: You’ll need excellent interpersonal, communication, analytical, decision-making, and problem-solving skills for this job. For hard skills, you must know how to use medical equipment to take sonograms and prepare reports.
Education: You need an associate’s degree in sonography for an entry-level role in this field.
6. MRI technologist
Median salary: $77,360
An MRI technologist uses medical diagnostic equipment to produce images that physicians will use to check for medical equipment. For this job, you must prepare patients for MRIs, operate computerized equipment, and collaborate with physicians to image specific body organs. You also maintain the imaging equipment and keep patient records.
Skills: An MRI technologist needs good communication, problem-solving, analytical, and teamwork skills. Attention to detail is also a plus. For hard skills, you must know how to use MRI equipment to take images and prepare medical reports.
Education: An associate degree in MRI technology is required for an entry-level position. You may also require some state-specific certifications.
7. Registered nurse (RN)
Median salary: $77,600
A registered nurse (RN) is primarily involved in providing patient care. As an RN, you observe patients’ conditions, record their symptoms, perform diagnostic tests, administer prescribed medicines and treatment, and operate medical equipment. You also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, including doctors, to determine the best course of action for the patient.
Skills: Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and attention to detail are must-haves for a registered nurse. You also require empathy and compassion for handling patient concerns. For hard skills, you must know how to operate and monitor medical equipment and administer medication.
Education: A registered nurse needs an associate’s degree in nursing. Licensure from respective states is also necessary.
8. Radiation therapist
Median salary: $82,790
Radiation therapists collaborate with other medical professionals to treat cancer and other tumors. As the job title suggests, these experts administer doses of radiation to patients. They also explain different treatment plans and answer any questions that patients may have. Other responsibilities you’ll likely find in this role’s job description include monitoring patients for unusual reactions to radiation treatment and maintaining medical records.
Skills: As a radiation therapist, excellent communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, attention to detail, and teamwork skills can help you thrive. Knowing how to operate and maintain radiation equipment is also necessary.
Education: You need an associate’s degree in radiation therapy to qualify for this role.
9. Respiratory therapist
Median salary: $61,830
A respiratory therapist mainly works with patients who have trouble breathing or have respiratory-related illnesses. In this role, you team up with other medical professionals to identify breathing disorders. You perform tests, analyze blood, and use results to determine the best treatment plan.
Skills: Good teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills can help you succeed as a respiratory therapist. For hard skills, you must know how to run tests, interpret findings, and administer appropriate medication.
Education: For this entry-level position, you must complete an associate’s degree program in respiratory therapy.
10. Occupational therapy assistant
Median salary: $61,520
An occupational therapy assistant helps patients with physical, mental, or developmental challenges regain or improve their ability to perform daily activities and tasks by guiding them through different exercises. They educate patients on using various equipment or aids to make their lives easier, recording their progress and working with occupational therapists to determine the next course of action.
Skills: You need excellent teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills. You must also be flexible to perform other administrative tasks.
Education: You need an associate of science or applied science for this entry-level role.
Who’s hiring associate degree holders on Handshake?
Land the best job with your associate degree
An associate degree from an accredited institution is a valuable asset to have. Depending on your area of specialization, you can choose from different career paths in web development, cybersecurity, human resources, nursing, therapy, and more. With average salaries of between $36,000 and $82,000 per year, you’re assured of good compensation while doing what you love.
Kickstart your career and join Handshake today. You’ll get the traction you need by creating meaningful connections with top companies looking for your skill set and setting up job alerts to let you know when the perfect job opportunity opens up.