The Best Associate Degree Jobs

The Best Associate Degree Jobs

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What Is an Associate Degree?

An associate is a two-year college degree offered at most community colleges, technical colleges, vocational schools, and some four-year universities. An associate degree is often a more affordable option than a bachelor’s degree, as it takes less time to complete.

Students can typically transfer credits earned in an associate program towards a bachelor’s degree program, but you can find rewarding associate degree jobs in a wide array of industries. Have you ever thought about being an allergy technician? Architectural technician? How about a crop production specialist?

Many associate degree jobs have a short payback timeframe of only two years due to a high median salary and a substantially lower tuition rate than a bachelor’s degree. You can launch a lucrative career with this two-year college degree, sometimes even making more money than workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Below, we will discuss some of the best associate degrees for high-salary career paths. Some of the jobs in the list don’t require an associate degree, but having one provides an edge on the competition.

List of Associate Degree Jobs

We placed the jobs in alphabetical order.

Table of Contents

Based on 2018 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Advertising Sales Agent

The work of advertising sales agents envelopes today’s world. Work in the dynamic media industry, using your communications skills to sell advertising space, time or media in television, radio, publications or on the Internet.

Air Traffic Controller

Most people have the impression a pilot controls the airplane, but air traffic controllers know better. Communicating to pilots from towers on the ground, air traffic controllers provide and relay pivotal information and directions to pilots to ensure a safe and effective flight for hundreds of pilots and thousands of airline passengers each day.

Allergy Technician

Allergies affect people ranging from mild annoyance to life threatening; allergy technicians are the faces of hope, sympathy, and kindness as they assist patients and doctors through the allergen testing process. Allergy technicians perform tasks ranging from paperwork, to blood draws, to interactions with patients.

Architectural Drafter

Architects are the structural creative visionaries, but it’s the architectural drafters who actually draw the vision’s specifics, so others can bring the vision to fruition. Construction workers use the architectural drafter’s drawings to build the structure, so extreme attention to detail is an absolute must in this profession.

Architectural Technician

Architects may get all the glory, but they wouldn’t get very far without the architectural technicians. Once an architect creates a design, the architectural technician transforms it into a workable project through developing and drawing up a set of construction drawings.

Audio & Video Equipment Technician

Due to employees working from various locations across the country or the world, businesses often hold meetings via computers. Companies increasingly rely on audio & video equipment technicians to keep meetings and presentations running smoothly. Audio & video equipment technicians provide the necessary technical support to help businesses communicate effectively.

Avionics Technician

Avionics technicians are the grease keeping aircraft working smoothly and safely. Avionic technicians may specialize in a specific aspect of avionic systems, as these systems run everything from communication, navigations, flight control, and life-support for aircraft.

Biomedical Technician

Medical equipment can help save lives, but only if it’s working properly; in this sense, biomedical technicians can help save lives without having to endure years of school and residency. Medical equipment varies vastly in technicality, so biomedical technicians must understand how to use a large range of tools and perform a diverse array of tasks.

Broadcast Technician

The work of the broadcast technicians truly brings the evening news to us; they operate the cameras and related equipment during broadcasts. Broadcast technicians plan ahead for all foreseeable issues and react and problem solve quickly, as they often operate live broadcasts.

CAD Technician

CAD technicians bring architecture and structural projects closer to reality through translating a vision or plan into specific graphical drawings through computer drawing programs. A CAD technician’s drawings bridge the gap between architects, investors, and construction workers all working toward bringing a vision to reality.

Cardiac Catheterization Technician

Doctors perform the diagnosing and direct interaction with patients, but the cardiac catheterization technicians test and operate the equipment and systems which test patients for diagnostic purposes.

Cardiopulmonary Technologist

A cardiopulmonary technologist, a vital part of any cardiopulmonary team, works directly with patients and doctors to manage or resolve cardiopulmonary irregularities. Cardiopulmonary technologists do everything from collecting patient history and paperwork, to performing cardiopulmonary procedures – both invasive and non-invasive.

Cardiovascular Physical Therapy Assistant

Just about everyone benefits from an assistant, even physical therapists. Cardiovascular physical therapy assistants work under the direction of cardiovascular physical therapists to help patients recover from or live with respiratory issues such as asthma or infections, or even prepare for respiratory-related surgeries.

Cardiovascular Technologist

Many professionals work together to help people with heart and other cardiovascular problems, including cardiovascular technologists. Cardiovascular technologists assist physicians and cardiologists in procedures and with analyzing test results related to heart and blood vessels.


Food is the tie that binds all humans together, and chefs wear this understanding and weight on their shoulders every day. This profession is not for the weak-willed, as it requires an ironclad work ethic, long hours, and working holidays; however, it’s also highly rewarding for those who enjoy constant innovation, creativity, and bringing smiles to people’s faces daily.

Chemical Technician

We are surrounded by chemicals daily, whether it’s our cleaning products, food preservatives, hygiene products, or medicine; they’re everywhere. Chemical technicians assist chemists and chemical engineers in developing, testing, and producing chemicals for a variety of fields. This is a highly transferable skill set.

Childcare Center Director

Although their business is the care of children, childcare center directors are often not the primary caretaker for the children; rather, the childcare center director focuses on duties such as recruiting new families, addressing parents' concerns, collecting payments, and managing staff members.

Civil Drafter

Most people take large-scale projects such as highways, city sewer piping, and oil pipelines for granted, but it’s the work of civil drafters which allows these types of projects to come to fruition. Civil drafters hand-draw and utilize computer-aided design and drafting programs to create drawings, maps, and blueprints for large projects.

Civil Engineering Technician

The world is in a state of constant demolition and rebuilding, as humans' needs change and evolve. Civil engineering technicians greatly contribute to our success as a society through working with civil engineers in planning and creating necessary structures ranging from buildings, to bridges, to sewage systems.

Clinical Social Work Aide

For some individuals, helping people through the toughest times in their lives is worth much more than a pay check; clinical social work aides work directly with clients, under the supervision of a licensed social worker, to educate them on available options relevant to their unique situation and help clients create plans to get back on their feet.

Community Service Specialist

Although community service specialists work in a large variety of organizations, one aspect of the job is always the same – they work directly with people, creating and fostering relationships between their business and others. Community service specialists focus on increasing quality of life for those who may need assistance, such as elderly, disabled, or children.

Computer Forensics Specialist

In most of the cop shows, the computer forensics specialist has the most interesting-yet-non-life-threatening job. A computer forensics specialist receives and analyzes evidence of a crime scene, develops an educated hypothesis, and reports back to the investigators or court. Workers in this field can earn an annual average salary that is around $19,000 greater than the national mean wage, making this one of the best associate degrees for professionals seeking immediate entry into a high-paying career.

Computer Network Technician

Modern businesses run on computer networks, so someone has to have the responsibility for building, testing, and trouble-shooting them. Computer network technicians do all this for any kind of network, ranging from local area network (LANs) to Wide Area Networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Computer Maintenance Technician

Being an IT guy has become a lot cooler over the past decade. Computer maintenance technicians are the individuals business employees turn to help with computer-related problems, as computer network technicians build, trouble-shoot, and maintain computer and hardware systems.

Computer Support Specialist

Anyone who has ever experienced computer trouble at some point can speak of the importance and appreciation of the computer support specialist. Computer support specialists work directly with people to find a fast and efficient solution to a computer problem.

Court Reporter

Court reporters aren’t allowed to have an ‘off' day; what they record in courtrooms and legal meetings become ‘the record' and could affect the future of the trial. Court reporters are responsible for accurately documents everything said in a trial or legal meeting.

Crop Production Specialist

The world always need food, so a crop production specialists will always be important contributing members of society. Crop production specialists may specialize in specific crops and they’re expected to understand all aspects of producing successful outcomes for a crop or crops.

Customer Service Supervisor

Good customer service requires the patience of a loving parent, a thick skin, and genuine care for others. A customer service supervisor oversees customer service representatives as well as works with upper management to help set and reach company goals.

Dental Hygienist

It’s possible to make a significant difference in someone’s life via their teeth and mouth without having to endure eight years of dental school. Dental hygienists clean teeth, educate people on oral care, and search for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis. Often times, they spend more time directly with the patients than the dentist.

Desktop Publisher

A skilled desktop publisher can draw people into a specific company through clever and appealing design and information. Desktop publishers create page layouts and written content for print and computers.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers work directly with patients as well as senior medical staff. Utilizing sonography equipment, diagnostic medical sonographers find and capture images which help doctors make diagnoses.

Dietetic Technician

While working alongside a dietician, a dietetic technician works with clients on a variety of dietary issues and may create meal plans to accommodate specific dietary goals or restrictions. Dietetic technicians help turn a client’s life around and increase quality of life through changes in food.

Electrical Drafter

People living in first world countries often take electricity for granted, but it takes a significant amount of work and planning to get electricity to rooms and machines in businesses at the flick of a switch. Electrical drafters, a primary reason electrical issues run smoothly for businesses, develop diagrams for wiring, circuit boards, and electrical equipment.

Electrical Engineering Technician

Electrical engineering technicians have the ‘power' of many companies in their hands. Electrical engineering technicians assist electrical engineers in installing, testing, and monitoring all things electrical for a variety of businesses.

Electrical engineering technician education:
Associate degree in Electrical Engineering Technology or consider a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering degree
Average electrical engineering technician salary: $56,000

Electro-mechanical Technician

Electro-mechanical technicians, the Ironmen of the electrical and mechanical fields, regularly work with a variety of tools on large electrical and hydraulic machines on vessels such as oil rigs and submarines. This is one technician you don’t want to mess with!

Environmental Engineering Technician

The environment has one more reason to hope for a cleaner and healthier future with each new environmental engineering technician who enters the field. These individuals carry out plans developed by environmental engineers with the intention of bettering the environment.

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Environmental science and protection technicians aren’t afraid to get their hands and knees dirty to perform field and laboratory tests. They know someone has to do it, and the health of the environment and how it affects public health gives them motivation.

Executive Administrative Assistant

Not your average assistant, an executive administrative assistant works for the top-tier executives. They’re expected to provide input, creativity, and problem-solving skills in addition to traditional clerical work.

Family Service Assistant

Every parent probably wishes they had a family service assistant at some point. A family service assistant performs nanny-like duties by helping with childcare as well as pitching in heavily with the housecleaning. They’re likely a lot of bonus hugs of gratitude – from the parents and children alike – in this position.

Fashion Buyer

A savvy store fashion buyer can place an imminent hole in your wallet. Fashion buyers study sales reports and fashion trends to determine what clothing to carry, the sales price, when to mark merchandise down, and when to make new inventory orders. Workers in this field can earn an annual average salary that is almost $20,000 greater than the national mean wage, giving this two-year college degree an especially high ROI.

Fashion Designer

It’s easy to have an opinion about fashions and trends, but it’s entirely different to be the person creating them. Fashion designers channel their creativity into designing clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Fitness Instructor

Motivating and educating people on personal fitness is no easy task; this job sees plenty of failure, but fitness instructors also reap the unique benefits of watching people transform attitudes, bodies, and lives for the better. Fitness instructors may lead group fitness activities or work with individuals on reaching specific health goals.

Food Science Technician

Food and agriculture is arguably one of the most important industries on earth; food science technicians play an important role in it. Food science technicians constantly measure, test, and analyze food and agriculture to help keep our food safe and healthy.

Food Service Manager

Food service is a highly competitive field, with customers having more options than they know what to do with; this makes the food service manager’s dedication to and skill at their job vital to the success of the business as a whole. Food service managers deal with everything from customer relations, to food quality, to staff management.

Forest Technician

Forestland is not only vital to keeping earth’s environment healthy and viable, forestland is an ideal location for relaxation and fun. Forest technicians work tirelessly to improve the quality of forestland.

Greenhouse Manager

A greenhouse manager must perform the tricky balancing act between thousands of different plant species' specific growing needs and what the general public is looking to buy at any given season. Greenhouse managers also oversee the greenhouse staff and regularly interact with customers to answer specific questions and accommodate requests.

Health Information Technician

Most people take for granted their health information is organized, accurate, and up-to-date; but this doesn’t happen without health information technicians. Increasingly, health information technicians deal with electronic records. They also focus on security of records.

Horticulture Salesperson

In order to sell food and plants, a person must be extraordinarily knowledgeable about it himself. Horticulture salespersons obtain and manage sales agreements for large-scale orders of fruit, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants.

Human Resources Assistant

One of the most important resources in a business is the human resource assistant; they’re the friendly face employees turn to with a variety of questions and requests. A human resources assistant must communicate effectively with people.

Human Service Assistant

Human service assistants are some of the good people in this world who help revive hope in humanity. They offer genuine care, assistance, and education of available community services and benefits for people truly in a time of need.

Hydroelectric Plant Technician

Hydroelectricity is a luxury we often take for granted, and hydroelectric plant technicians doing their job to keep the plant working smoothly is a large reason we don’t have to think about it daily. Hydroelectric plant technicians perform regular maintenance and trouble-shooting on the machines and systems at a hydroelectric plant to ensure everything continues in working order.

Information Systems Security Technician

As the world becomes increasingly electronic, people want to know their information is secure. Information systems security technicians utilize security practices and principles in creating, testing, and analyzing information systems to ensure their safety and security to everyone affected.

Landscape Technician

Landscape technicians make areas more appealing through the introduction of more nature. Landscape technicians use their extensive knowledge about plants, soils, and growth patterns to design and implement plants, trees, shrubs, and other foliage in areas ranging from personal gardens to the land surrounding office buildings.

Library Technician

Books are one of the longest enduring human art forms. Library technicians get to work with books daily, organizing, shelving, and even recommending books to library visitors.

Livestock Technician

Imagine wrangling, keeping track of, and caring for hundreds of animals every day. No, this isn’t a metaphor for a day care center, we’re talking about what livestock technicians do every day. These individuals are responsible for either administering, organizing, or monitoring all aspects of daily care for livestock.

Lodging Manager

Being responsible for someone’s home-away-from-home, whether they are traveling for pleasure or business, is a large responsibility, but it’s essentially the job of a lodging manager. Lodging managers often go above and beyond the everyday expectations of people in order to ensure they have an enjoyable time.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist

It’s intimidating enough just being the patient who must get into the MRI machine, but then someone needs to know how to actually run it! The magnetic resonance imaging technologist, the professional behind the MRI controls, guides patients along through the process, controlling the machine, and recording the results for a physician to analyze and interpret.

Manufacturing Production Technician

If Santa’s elves wanted jobs in the real world, they would make excellent manufacturing production technicians. Millions of today’s goods, from toys to electronics, are manufactured through machines run by manufacturing production technicians. A manufacturing production technician must learn to operate, troubleshoot, and maintain their machine.

Mapping Technician

Although we all use maps, it’s not often we consider the work and experience that went into creating them. Mapping technicians work in all types of weather and environments to assist surveyors and cartographers to collect data used for creating maps.

Mechanical Drafter

The more technical and involved a machine is, the more vital a mechanical drafter’s work is. Mechanical drafters create diagrams of machines showing how they are built, where moving parts are located and the measurements and dimensions of all pieces. Their work is necessary for machine maintenance, repair, and replacement.

Mechanical Engineering Technician

To a mechanically-inclined individual, a job as a mechanical engineering technician is similar to going to work to play every day. Mechanical engineering technicians work alongside mechanical engineers to design, build, and test mechanical devices of all sizes and purposes.

Medical Assistant

Jobs in the medical field may vary drastically, but most of them require a medical assistant. Medical assistants may select a speciality to work in. Common duties of a medical assistant range from paperwork, to collecting medical history from patients, to helping with some medical procedures.

Medical assistant education: Associate in Science in Medical Assisting degree

Average medical assistant salary:

Medical Equipment Repairer

They’re often overlooked, but they’re essential workers in the healthcare industry. Medical equipment repairers keep diagnostic equipment, patient monitors, wheelchairs and other equipment functioning. These individuals install, inspect, maintain, and fix the equipment used to help improve health and save lives.

Medical Laboratory Technician

The human body is one of the most studied things on earth, yet it still holds numerous mysteries. Medical laboratory technicians are some of the individuals seeking answers and explanations for those mysteries through collecting, studying, and analyzing bodily fluids in a scientific matter.

Neurodiagnostic Technologist

The human brain is simultaneously the most powerful, most fragile, and least understood matter on this planet. Neurodiagnostic technologists take this challenge head on and diagnose and study neurological disorders through the use of science and technology.

Occupational Health and Safety Technician

Has the rewarding job of protecting workers and the general public. They work to ensure employees of any business are safe from all foreseeable hazards.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Helping someone get back to living their life the way they want to live it is a priceless reward of being an occupational therapy assistant. These individuals provide physical therapy for people in need of developing, improving, or recovering specific skills in order to improve their quality of life and ability to work.

Office Supervisor

An office environment is a constant juggling act to keep employees happy and productive, communication flowing openly, and goals achieved. The office supervisor must find a way to keep the office running smoothly at all times.

Ophthalmology Technician

Eye health is something most people take for granted, but it immediately becomes a priority when something is wrong. An ophthalmology technician is the friendly face and the person who collects relevant medical history, answers questions, or performs an initial eye exam at an ophthalmologist’s office.

Ornamental Plant Producer

You can find ornamental plants in an array of environments such as homes, businesses, and stores, but few people stop to consider someone grows these plants. Ornamental plant producers grow the plants sold in greenhouses and plant nurseries.

Orthopedic Technician

If you have a broken bone, an orthopedic technician can be your best friend. Orthopedic technicians are experts at putting on and removing plaster and synthetic casts.


Many lawyers wouldn’t want their job without the assistance of a paralegal. Paralegals assist lawyers in everything from general filing and organization to legal research and writing documents.

Pastry Chef

Everyone knows dessert is the best part of the meal. Pastry chefs are responsible for this culinary highlight, they turn a pile of raw ingredients into a beautiful tasty treat.

Petroleum Technician

Petroleum technicians aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty – literally. While assisting in the monitoring of current resources, petroleum technicians also aid in search for new petroleum resources.

Photographic Equipment Repairer

Photographs are arguably the most personal and telling way to preserve history; you don’t want a broken camera. Photographic equipment repairers work on a variety of camera styles and sizes, doing their part to help the world preserve memories and history.

Photonics Technician

You can actually grow up and get paid to play with lasers. Photonic technicians install, maintain, and troubleshoot devices which use fiber optics and lasers.

Photovoltaic Technical Salesperson

Think you have the skills to sell the sun? Well, it’s energy at least. Photovoltaic technical salespersons sell solar powered devices, such as solar panels.

Physical Therapist Assistant

Not everyone gets to help people directly and drastically improve the quality of their lives, but physical therapist assistants can claim this every day. Physical therapist assistants work with patients on exercise plans physical therapists design for each patient.

Preschool Teacher

Have you hugged a preschool teacher today? Teaching very young children the fundamentals they take through their entire education process is a tremendous responsibility. Preschool teachers focus on teaching children, generally ages three through five, reading, writing, science, art, and social skills.

Production Agriculture Salesperson

Farming comes with a lot of equipment, but where does someone go to buy such a large-scale tractor or other farming-specific supplies? A production agriculture salesperson sells all-things related to agriculture.

Radiation Therapist

Has the rewarding opportunity to fight cancer. Radiation therapists provide radiation treatments for patients with cancer with the aim of diminishing cancer cells and eliminating cancerous tumors.

Radiologic Technologist

Getting an x-ray can be scary for some people, as it’s usually not for a positive reason. Radiologic technologists are the individuals who walk patients through the x-ray process and who run the x-ray machines.

Registered Nurse

A lot of people have a memory of a nice nurse who comforted them when they were scared, took their pain away, held their hand during a shot, or simply offered an empathetic ear or hand pat when it was needed most. Nurses work directly with people, educating, scheduling, and generally caring for them. Registered nurses can earn an annual average salary that is around $20,000 greater than the national mean wage, making this one of the best associate degrees for professionals seeking immediate entry into a high-paying career.

Respiratory Therapist

Has a vital role in the healthcare field. Respiratory therapists helps patients who experience restricted airflow from allergies, respiratory disease, asthma, or other causes.

Retail Sales Supervisor

Keeping a store running smoothly requires near-constant multi-tasking every day. Retail sales supervisors oversee all aspects of running a retail store, including staffing issues, customer relations, finances, and scheduling.

Robotics Technician

Although not all robots are similar to the Jetson’s maid or the cyborgs we see in movies, they’re impressive machines designed to perform tasks better or at least more precise and dependably than humans. Robotic technicians are the masterminds behind the construction, maintenance, and trouble-shooting of robots.

Social Service Assistant

Social service assistants reach out directly to people and offer the helping hand a lot of people hope to get. Social service assistants work with other professionals, such as psychologists and social workers, to help counsel clients, locate relevant local services, and maintain a client’s record, regularly checking in with them.

Soil and Water Technician

A soil and water technician is an important member to any land conservation team. They devise irrigation and farming techniques to help reduce erosion.

Solar Thermal Technician

Solar power is certainly going to be a part of our future, so we need solar thermal technicians to install, maintain, and repair solar powered systems. They also often design the systems, so they know the systems inside and out.

Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Having solar panels is pretty cool, but how do you install them? No worries, that’s where a solar thermal technician comes in. Solar thermal technicians install and maintain solar panel systems on houses and other buildings.

Special Education Assistant

Working with children of special needs is a highly challenging, yet highly rewarding career. Special education assistants work directly with the students with everything from schoolwork to daily living skills and exercises.

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists are involved before, during and after surgeries. During surgeries surgical technologists assist surgeons performing tasks such as sterilizing materials, handing instruments to the surgeon, and suturing incisions.

Surveying Technician

Many people consider construction the beginning of a project, but long before a construction team can start building, a surveying technician must perform his job helping licensed surveyors collect data. Surveying technicians gather data used in construction, engineering and environmental industries.

Teacher Assistant

Sometimes a teacher just can’t be everywhere, and help everyone, all at once, that’s where teacher assistants come in. Teacher assistants provide the extra set of eyes, hands, and general attention a class may require to optimally function.

Textile Designer

So long as they’re fashion trends in clothing and homes, textile designers remain in demand. A textile designer develops new, creative, and fashionable designs for printed or knitted materials, ranging from clothes to bed linens. Workers in this field can earn an annual average salary that is around $18,000 greater than the national mean wage, making this another two-year college degree with a high ROI.

Turf Management Technician

Football, soccer, golf and other sports require an expertly maintained turf and it sure doesn’t maintain itself. A turf management technician knows his soil and crop management inside and out and exhibits an extreme attention to detail.

Veterinary Technician

When people bring their pet into a veterinary office, they’re usually seeking someone to offer them comfort, educate them about their pet’s ailment, and provide information on how to provide their pet with a high quality of life. Veterinary technicians do all of this, as they assist veterinarians perform medical tests and diagnose injuries or illnesses.

Web Designer

Having an attractive, functional, and memorable website is increasingly necessary for businesses to succeed today. Web designers are responsible for developing the look of a website, which could make or break a company’s success.

Wildlife Technician

The best way to preserve an environment is to learn as much as possible about it. Wildlife technicians are charged with understanding as much as possible about an assigned area’s wildlife and natural resources with the intention of working with other professionals to preserve the land and environment.

Wind Turbine Service Technician

Wind power, an alternative energy source, may become a major energy source in the future. Wind turbine service technicians perform preventative maintenance and trouble-shooting on wind turbines to keep them in working order.

Our list provides plenty of rewarding associate degree jobs to choose from.

* Salary information provided by:
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Logo

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