Highest-Paying Associate Degrees in 2022

Looking for a lucrative salary without the lengthy education process? Check out our list of the highest-paying jobs with associate degrees

TCM Staff

31st January 2022

Employment rates are higher for Americans with degrees than for Americans without. But a bachelor’s degree is sometimes too big a time and money commitment to complete. You can still get high-paying jobs with associate degrees, even though it’s usually a two-year program versus a bachelor’s four-years. 

There are some associate degrees that pay well, and others that don’t. The trick is to know which associate degrees fall into each category, and we can help with that. Interested in finding a career path with higher return and lower investment? Keep reading to learn more about the highest-paying jobs with associate degrees. 

 

What Is an Associate Degree?

An associate degree is a two-year college program that offers education for technical skills rather than theoretical knowledge. Top universities offer associate degrees, but they’re more commonly found at community colleges. You can obtain the following types of associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate of Science
  • Associate of Applied Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science

 

Let’s move on to explore the best-paying associate degrees. 

 

Highest Paying Jobs with Associates Degrees

Here’s a list of the 10 best associate degree jobs and their respective average salaries. 

    1. Air Traffic Controller ($122,990)

Ever wondered how pilots know where, when, and how to land? They keep communication with aviation crews on the ground that help facilitate the landing. Air traffic controllers tell the pilots everything they need to know to have a safe landing or flight, from weather information to hazards requiring quick action. 

Air traffic controllers study one of the top-paying associate degrees, which covers topics like aviation policies and regulations, traffic control procedures, and emergency management. Despite the relatively short education needed to become an air traffic controller, it’s a stressful job. 

Degree: Associate of Applied Science

Job Growth: 1%

Example School that Offers the Program: Mt. San Antonio College

 

    2. Radiation Therapist ($85,960)

Radiation therapists administer treatments to patients that have cancer and other diseases that are treated with radiation. With an average salary of $85,000, radiation therapy is easily one of the highest-paying associate degrees. 

Working with other medical personnel like nurses and doctors, radiation therapists learn how to operate radiation machines, communicate treatment plans, and monitor patient progress during their associate degree study. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 9%

Example School that Offers the Program: Galveston College

 

    3. MRI Technologist ($71,670)

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging technologists use medical machinery to create images of a patient’s inner body, including soft tissues and organs. School programs in this field cover topics like medical image interpretation, recordkeeping, anatomy, radiation safety, and more.  

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 9%

Example School that Offers the Program: National Polytechnic College 

 

    4. Aircraft Technician ($64,310)

Aircraft technicians and mechanics maintain structures and systems within an aircraft. This entails mending broken wings or tails, inspecting brakes, and repairing avionics (electrical) systems like radios and sound systems. 

An Associate in Science in Aircraft Maintenance is a high-paying associate degree that also offers a rewarding career. Some topics covered during this degree program include flight theory, metallurgy, math, composites, tool identification, FAA regulations, and more. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 3%

Example School that Offers the Program: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University 

 

    5. Civil Engineering Technicians ($53,410)

Ever wondered how your city’s building infrastructure made its way from rubble to standing? Civil engineers build and develop the projects, but they can’t do it all on their own. Civil engineering technicians support engineers throughout the work and use design software to create drawings and plans.

School programs in this field cover topics like surveying and mapping, algebra, soil mechanics, and more. 

Electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering technicians also make decent salaries after completing associate degree programs. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 2%

Example School that Offers the Program: Northcentral Technical College

 

    6. Paralegal ($51,740)

Paralegals use legal management database systems to manage and work on case files. They help lawyers prepare for trials by interviewing witnesses, conducting research, and filing court documents. In school, they learn about criminal procedures, legal research, and more. 

Degree: Associate of Arts

Job Growth: 12%

Example School that Offers the Program: Liberty University

 

    7. Funeral Service Worker ($58,310)

When a loved one dies, a lot of planning and coordination goes into the funeral on the family’s part as well as the funeral home. Funeral homes employ people to work with families of lost loved ones throughout the funeral process. They help schedule the time and location, coordinate the coffin and body’s movements, arrange viewings, and sometimes embalm the bodies. 

Aspiring funeral service workers will study computer applications, funeral home management, thanatology, accounting, and other subjects. 

Degree: Associate of Arts

Job Growth: 4%

Example School that Offers the Program: FINE Mortuary College 

 

    8. Nuclear Technician ($82,080)

Nuclear technicians help manage nuclear facilities to power electricity and medical technology. Some of their job duties include repairing nuclear reactors, safety inspections, contamination testing, and more. Topics of study include reactor plant components, nuclear systems, radiation physics, and health physics calculations. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: -4%

Example School that Offers the Program: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College 

 

    9. Computer Support Specialist ($54,760)

With most of the world switching to a digital-first landscape, people will need computer support now more than ever. That’s why computer support specialists can expect to witness a job growth of 10% in the next ten years. 

Topics of study for this science associate degree includes network technologies, software and hardware, business communications, and more. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 10%

Example School that Offers the Program: University of Toledo

 

    10. Petroleum and Geological Technician ($51,130)

The oils and minerals that power our equipment and vehicles are extracted from the earth, often by engineers and scientists. Petroleum and geological technicians support the engineers in the extraction by recording data, preparing reports, and using seismic instruments. Associate degree programs for this vocation cover topics like safety inspections, critical thinking, and operations monitoring. 

Degree: Associate of Science

Job Growth: 10%

Example School that Offers the Program:Lone Star College System

Geological and petroleum technicians assist scientists and engineers in the extraction of natural resources. They collect and assess data related to the availability and impact of oil, natural gas, metals, and other materials; use computer databases, seismic instruments, and laboratory equipment; and prepare reports based on sample analyses and other tests. They may work in laboratories, at extraction sites, or in office settings.

Geological and petroleum technicians need an associate of applied science in geosciences, physics, or mining. Training in geographic information systems, mapping software, and modeling programs are essential for geological and petroleum technicians.

Conclusion

Clearly, you can score some of the best jobs with an associate degree under your belt. Plenty of people are successful in both job fulfillment and lucrativeness after taking a technical education course through an associate degree. 

Take a look at this article’s list of highest-paying jobs with associates degrees to narrow down on the one that fits your dreams, goals, and lifestyle best. Curious about other associate degrees? Check out our list of the best online associate degrees in leadership

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    1. What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs with a 2-Year Degree?

The highest-paying job with a 2-year associate degree is air traffic controllers. On average, they make about $122,000 per year. 

    2. Can You Make Good Money With an Associate's Degree?

Certainly. Many of the jobs in this article range in salary from $50,000 all the way up to $122,000. 

    3. Is an Associate Degree Worth It?

Statistics show that degree holders have more job prospects than non-degree holders. So, an associate degree is worth it purely for more employment opportunities.

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