Once again, PayScale's 2015-2016 College Salary Report features data about the earning potential of 2-year associate degrees. If you are considering going back to school to earn an AA, choosing the right major will have a huge impact on your future salary. The list above can help you find the best associate degrees by salary potential.
The Highest-Paying Associate Degree
An associate degree is a great way to kick off a high-paying career, especially in the Technology and Engineer fields. An associate degree in Management Information Systems has the highest median mid-career salary on our list - grads earn $72,100 per year with 10 or more years of experience. An associate degree in Construction Management comes in a close second, with a median mid-career salary of $71,200.
To put those numbers in perspective, those salaries are higher than 151 of the bachelor's degrees we have data for. An associate degree in the right subject can seriously pay off.
Salary Potential For Associate Degrees in Health Science
If you want to work in the healthcare field, there are several lucrative associate degree options that will earn you a great salary. Dental hygiene majors earn the highest early career salaries on the list ($61,300), followed by nursing majors ($52,200). Associate degrees in health-related subjects also have the highest percentage of alumni who go on to say that their work is very meaningful. Occupational therapy assistant studies majors have the highest reported job meaning - 86 percent of them say that their jobs make the world a better place.
Some Associate Degrees Pay More Than Others
Of course, not all associate degrees lead to high salaries. An associate degree in Early Childhood Education leads to the lowest salary potential, with a median mid-career salary of $23,100. (Interestingly, that subject is the lowest-paying bachelor's degree major on our list of bachelor's degrees by salary potential as well. A bachelor's degree in the same subject will only get you a mid-career salary of $38,000. The small difference in salary is something to take into account when you are deciding on how much education you can afford in this subject.) Seventy-seven percent of people who earn an associate degree in early childhood education do say that their jobs make the world a better place.
So if you are short on time, want to get your career started quickly or just don't think a four-year school is right for you, one of the associate degree options on this list may be a really smart choice.