10 Best Associate Degrees by Salary

A 4-year degree isn't a requirement for a successful career — many associate degrees can help set you up for high-paying roles with solid job meaning. Just choose your major wisely. Here are the best associate degrees ranked by earning potential to get you inspired:


Computer Engineering

1. Computer Engineering (CE)

Early Career Median Pay: $41,000
Mid-Career Median Pay: $77,300
Percent High Job Meaning: 41%

If you want to work as a Computer Network Technician or Computer Network Support Specialist, an associate degree in Computer Engineering is a way to get there. This degree is also the highest paying on our list by mid-career, when the median annual salary tops $77,000.

Economics

2. Economics

Early Career Median Pay: $36,500
Mid-Career Median Pay: $76,500
Percent High Job Meaning: 41%

Surprised to see a major from the usually lower-paid social science family on this list of high-paying associate degrees? Economics majors study the fundamentals of business and learn invaluable critical-thinking skills that make them a good fit for management roles, even if they don't have a four-year degree. It is important to note that this is a population where pay comes with experience — early career salaries for workers with an AA in Economics is only $36,500.

Management Information Systems

3. Management Information Systems (MIS)

Early Career Median Pay: $43,600
Mid-Career Median Pay: $76,400
Percent High Job Meaning: 41%

We all know that management is a fast track to the corner office, so it isn't exactly surprising that studying Management Information Systems has serious salary potential. Workers who study Management Information Systems learn how to build and manage teams effectively, and these skills pay off big time in a business environment.

Construction Management

4. Construction Management

Early Career Median Pay: $44,500
Mid-Career Median Pay: $73,400
Percent High Job Meaning: 64%

Getting an associate degree in Construction Management can pay off big-time (literally, the median mid-career salary for workers with this degree is $73,400) because it sets you apart from other potential hires in an industry where college degrees are less common.

Electrical Engineering

5. Electrical Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $42,200
Mid-Career Median Pay: $70,800
Percent High Job Meaning: 56%

Electrical Engineering Technicians assist engineers in designing electronics devices and equipment, and earn good money doing it—over $70,000 by mid-career. An associate degree in Electrical Engineering will get you started.

Electronic Communications Engineer

6. Electronics & Communications Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $43,100
Mid-Career Median Pay: $70,700
Percent High Job Meaning: 60%

In today's economy, the ability to communicate easily and instantly with anybody anywhere is vital to the success of almost any business. So is it any surprise that Electronics and Communications Engineering is one of the best associate degrees you can earn in terms of salary potential? Median mid-career salaries for graduates with this degree reach $70,700.

Engineering

7. Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $37,800
Mid-Career Median Pay: $70,500
Percent High Job Meaning: 62%

Engineering Technicians don’t necessarily need a bachelor's degree; an associate degree will qualify you for a job that pays a median annual salary of $37,800 to start and over $70,000 by mid-career.

Dental Hygiene

Photo credit: UFV / Flickr

8. Dental Hygiene

Early Career Median Pay: $62,100
Mid-Career Median Pay: $69,100
Percent High Job Meaning: 79%

Not only do more than three-quarters of workers with an associate degree in Dental Hygiene say that their work makes the world a better place, they also clean up financially. Salaries for workers who study Dental Hygiene at a career college or community college earn a median salary of more than $69,100 by mid-career.

Computer Programming

9. Computer Programming

Early Career Median Pay: $42,900
Mid-Career Median Pay: $68,800
Percent High Job Meaning: 48%

Everybody knows that Software Developers are in hot demand. But did you know that you don't necessarily need a four-year degree to get hired as a Programmer? Workers with an associate degree in Computer Programming pull upward of $42,000 a year to start, and those with 10 or more years of experience report a median salary of $68,800.

Occupational Health and Safety

10. Occupational Health and Safety

Early Career Median Pay: $52,700
Mid-Career Median Pay: $68,700
Percent High Job Meaning: 71%

Did you volunteer to be a hall monitor in elementary school? Then maybe studying Occupational Health and Safety is a smart move. It certainly pays off—the median mid-career salary for workers who hold an associate degree in this subject is over $68,000, and they have the second-highest sense of job meaning on this list of top associate degrees by earning potential.



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