An associate of applied science degree is a two-year undergraduate degree. Unlike an associate of science degree, which is intended for those interested in continuing their education at a four-year school, an AAS degree is designed to lead a student directly into employment. These programs prepare students with the specific knowledge and skills they need to immediately begin a career in a particular field. There are a number of well-paying jobs that require an AAS degree.
Radiation therapists treat patients suffering from cancer and other diseases by administering radiation treatments. They ensure the right dosage of radiation is given to the correct area of the body, monitor patients for reactions to treatments, and keep detailed records of treatments and procedures. Radiation therapists works with radiation oncologists, physicians, oncology nurses and other medical staff as part of a patient’s treatment team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiation therapists made an average median salary of $74,900 in 2010. The top 10 percent in the profession made more than $110,000 a year.
A registered nurse provides care to patients in a variety of settings. They record patients' medical histories and symptoms, administer medication and treatments, observe patients' health, consult with medical staff and other health care professionals, assist in performing diagnostic tests, and teach patients and their families how to manage an illness or injury. The BLS notes that registered nurses made an average median salary of $64,600 in 2010, with the top 10 percent earning more than $95,000 a year.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists use special medical scanners to create images of a patient’s body. These images are used to detect or diagnose illnesses, injuries or conditions that require medical intervention. A nuclear medicine technologist uses imaging equipment to scan a section of a patient’s body, prepares and administers radioactive drugs, monitors patients to detect unusual reactions to the drugs and keeps detailed records of imaging procedures. The BLS reports the average median salary of a nuclear medicine technologist as $68,500 as of 2010. More experienced technologists can earn upward of $91,900.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Using special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body, diagnostic medical sonographers assist in diagnosing a wide variety of medical conditions. Diagnostic medical sonographers operate imaging equipment to get images of the areas of the body that need evaluation. They are trained to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal findings, and they analyze images for physicians. The average median salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer was $64,300 in 2010, according to the BLS. Diagnostic medical sonographers can advance in salary to earn more than $88,400.
Dental hygienists clean people’s teeth, look for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis and gum disease, and educate patients on preventative dental care and maintaining good oral health. During the course of an examination, dental hygienists remove tartar, stains and plaque from teeth; apply fluoride and other topical treatments; take and develop dental X-rays; and teach patients good oral hygiene, such as effective brushing and flossing techniques. They also clean and polish teeth and assist dentists in performing fillings and other dental procedures. According to the BLS, dental hygienists made an average median salary of $68,200 in 2010. The top 10 percent in the profession earned more than $93,800.