Getting an associates degree usually only requires 2 years of study. It's a good option for people to who need to keep their education costs down. And, in certain fields, people with associate degrees landed higher starting salaries than 4-year public college grads, says a study cited on Bankrate. Millions of professionals with varying careers serve as daily proof that a bachelor's degree is not required to get a good job.
Dental hygienists are hired with only an associates degree. Usually employed by dentists' offices, they play an important role in patients' oral care. Hygienists remove hard and soft deposits from people's teeth, apply protective sealants and take X-rays. They develop treatment programs and educate their patients. In some states, these professionals are even allowed to place and carve filling materials, temporary fillings, and periodontal dressings.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Diagnostic medical sonographers use imaging equipment to create images of body structures. Doctors analyze the outcome to help diagnose patients. The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography says the field offers excellent career opportunities, and salaries for sonographers are competitive with or higher than professions with similar levels of education. Its 2013 Salary and Benefit Survey Report found sonographers have a median salary of $78,520 a year.
Paralegals only need an associate degree to start a career providing support for attorneys. Paralegals' duties vary depending on the size and type of firm they work for. Common duties include conducting legal research, investigating case details and drafting court documents. Since attorneys tend to specialize in one area of law, paralegals also have the opportunity to specialize in areas like litigation, corporate law and intellectual property. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates average job growth at approximately 18 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Solar Energy Consultants
Being a solar energy consultant only requires an associate degree. These professionals assess trends in the solar industry, including new products and technology. They advise a broad range of clients about new and existing solar projects. Consultants' clients include electrical, general contracting and venture capital companies. It's an especially good career choice for people laid off from construction, reports Bankrate.
Aerospace Engineering Technicians
An associate of science degree can pave the way to an aerospace career. Engineering technicians work with scientists and engineers by supporting their research efforts, and they help maintain equipment used to develop, test, and produce air and spacecraft. NASA says technicians are an important part of its aerospace team. Their skills are used for wind tunnels, laboratory work and building models.