Highest Paying 2-Year Degrees

Want to find out how much you can earn with a two-year degree? Payscale has the top associate degree majors ranked by salary potential.

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RankMajorDegree TypeEarly Career Pay
Mid-Career Pay
% High Meaning
Rank:221Major:Allied HealthDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$39,400Mid-Career Pay:$56,400% High Meaning:81%
Rank:130Major:Respiratory CareDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$52,300Mid-Career Pay:$66,000% High Meaning:81%
Rank:104Major:RadiologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$49,100Mid-Career Pay:$68,900% High Meaning:80%
Rank:153Major:Diagnostic Medical ImagingDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$49,800Mid-Career Pay:$63,500% High Meaning:80%
Rank:51Major:Fire TechnologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$44,400Mid-Career Pay:$76,200% High Meaning:79%
Rank:57Major:NursingDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$60,300Mid-Career Pay:$75,700% High Meaning:79%
Rank:299Major:Practical NursingDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$42,300Mid-Career Pay:$50,400% High Meaning:79%
Rank:269Major:OpticianryDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$39,100Mid-Career Pay:$52,800% High Meaning:79%
Rank:165Major:Mortuary ScienceDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$36,500Mid-Career Pay:$60,800% High Meaning:79%
Rank:97Major:Biomedical Equipment TechnologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$47,400Mid-Career Pay:$69,200% High Meaning:78%
Rank:208Major:ParamedicineDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$40,400Mid-Career Pay:$57,000% High Meaning:78%
Rank:349Major:Mental HealthDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$30,400Mid-Career Pay:$40,500% High Meaning:78%
Rank:342Major:Health & Medical Services AdministrationDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$35,600Mid-Career Pay:$41,700% High Meaning:78%
Rank:273Major:Medical Laboratory TechnicianDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$40,200Mid-Career Pay:$52,600% High Meaning:78%
Rank:75Major:Cardiac SonographyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$57,200Mid-Career Pay:$72,800% High Meaning:78%
Rank:95Major:Radiologic TechnologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$50,400Mid-Career Pay:$69,600% High Meaning:77%
Rank:120Major:RadiographyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$51,400Mid-Career Pay:$66,600% High Meaning:76%
Rank:32Major:Dental HygieneDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$69,400Mid-Career Pay:$78,200% High Meaning:76%
Rank:311Major:Dental AssistingDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$37,500Mid-Career Pay:$48,400% High Meaning:76%
Rank:353Major:Clinical Medical AssistingDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$32,900Mid-Career Pay:$38,900% High Meaning:76%
Rank:251Major:Medical Laboratory TechnologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$40,900Mid-Career Pay:$54,400% High Meaning:76%
Rank:235Major:Dental Laboratory TechnologyDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$34,000Mid-Career Pay:$55,300% High Meaning:76%
Rank:352Major:Social ServicesDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$35,500Mid-Career Pay:$39,000% High Meaning:75%
Rank:359Major:Early Childhood EducationDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$27,900Mid-Career Pay:$34,600% High Meaning:75%
Rank:358Major:Child DevelopmentDegree Type:AssociatesEarly Career Pay:$28,100Mid-Career Pay:$35,500% High Meaning:74%

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College Student

PayScale’s College Salary Report features data about the earning potential of associate degrees from community colleges. 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. An associate degree is a great way to kick off a high-paying career, especially in the Healthcare, Technology and Engineering fields. This list can help you find the best associate degrees by salary potential.

Best 2-Year Degrees

Physician Assistant Studies – Mid-Career Salary: $98,300

Students who enroll in physician assistant studies programs learn skills necessary to work as a physician assistant in a medical facility or clinic setting.

Radiation Therapy – Mid-Career Salary: $93,300

A radiation therapy degree includes coursework in oncology, pathology, radiation physics and treatment planning. Typically, they will also be required to have hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

Software Engineering – Mid-Career Salary: $90,700

Students who enroll in software engineering programs learn how to develop new ways for software to function. Classes include coding and mathematical courses to help students pursue this major. Common employers of software engineers include Microsoft, Google, Intel, Amazon, and other enterprise-level tech companies.

Healthcare and Technology Majors Have the Highest Salary Potential

Historically, healthcare has been the most lucrative associate degree option that was guaranteed to earn you a good wage. However, these rankings show that technology-focused majors can also be a good option for high salary earnings. That being said, health-related subjects have a higher than average percentage of alumni who say that their work is very meaningful.

Of course, not all associate degrees lead to high salaries. An early childhood education program usually leads to low salary potential, but most graduates 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 smart choice.