Jobs You Can Get With an Associate Degree

These 10 jobs that you can get with an associate degree all have a stellar employment outlook.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts they will all have employment growth of 14 to 31 percent between 2016 and 2026—faster or much faster than the increase for most careers.

When choosing an occupation, it is essential to make sure there will be employment opportunities in the future, especially after spending time fulfilling all the educational requirements. However, do not choose an occupation just because it has a great job outlook or appears on a best careers list for any other reason. Make sure it is also a good fit for you.

Carefully explore your career options by examining job descriptions and conducting informational interviews with people who work in the occupations in which you are most interested. Also do a self-assessment to learn about your interests, personality type, aptitude, and work-related values to see if the career you are considering is suitable.

01
Physical Therapist Assistants

Physical therapist assistant with patient
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Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists (PTs). They help patients perform exercises prescribed by PTs and use massage, stretching, and other therapies.

Your degree must be from an associate degree program that the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) has accredited. All states require a license to practice.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 31 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 88,300

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 27,400

Median Annual Salary (2017): $57,430

 

02
Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistant and patient
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Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs), under occupational therapists' supervision, help clients regain the ability to perform daily living and work activities. They work with a treatment plan developed by the therapist.

To become an OTA, attend a program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Every state requires a license.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 29 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 39,300

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 11,400

Median Annual Salary (2017): $59,310

03
Ultrasound Technician

ultrasound technician performs sonogram
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Ultrasound technicians use special equipment that emits sound waves to help physicians diagnose patients' illnesses. They are also called diagnostic medical sonographers.

Get an associate degree or bachelor's degree in medical sonography if you want to be an ultrasound technician. The program you attend must have accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 23 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 67,300

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 15,600

Median Annual Salary (2017): $71,410

04
Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapist
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Respiratory therapists, in consultation with doctors, develop treatment plans for patients who have breathing or cardiopulmonary problems. 

While you can become a respiratory therapist with an associate degree, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree. All states but Alaska require a license.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 23 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 130,200

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 30,500

Median Annual Salary (2017): $59,710

05
Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienist with patient
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Dental hygienists provide preventative dental care and teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They are supervised by dentists.

While one can earn a certificate or a bachelor's or master's degree in dental hygiene, an associate degree is most common. You will also need a license issued by the dental board in the state in which you practice.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 20 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 207,900

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 40,900

Median Annual Salary (2017): $74.070

06
Veterinary Technicians

Veterinary technician examining small dog clinic examination room
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Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians.  They conduct clinical and laboratory procedures in private clinics and animal hospitals.

Attend a veterinary technology program accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) to earn an associate degree. Many states require a license.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 20 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 102,000

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 20,400

Median Annual Salary (2017): $33,400

07
Geologic and Petroleum Technicians

Geologic and petroleum technician with engineers
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Geologic and petroleum technicians support the work of scientists and engineers. They perform fieldwork and laboratory work or analyze data in an office.

Although it is possible to get an entry-level job with just a high school education, an associate degree or at least two years of post-secondary training is usually preferred. Your degree should be in applied science or a science-related technology.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 16 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 15,000

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 2,500

Median Annual Salary (2017): $54,190

08
Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegal interviewing a witness by phone
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Paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys prepare for legal proceedings such as trials and hearings. They do legal research and draft documents.

You can get a bachelor's or associate degree in paralegal studies to work in this field. Some professional associations offer certification. It is not mandatory.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 285,600

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 41,800

Median Annual Salary (2017): $50,410

09
Web Developers

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Web developers design and create websites and make sure they perform optimally. They write code and sometimes content.

A degree isn't required to work in this field, but most who do, have an associate in web design. You need an in-depth knowledge of HTML programming in addition to an understanding of other programming languages.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 162,900

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 24,400

Median Annual Salary (2017): $67,990

10
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists

MRI technician explaining scanning procedure.
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists use MRI scanners to create images. Doctors use them to diagnose injuries and disease.

Your education will include classroom and clinical work. Most states require MRI technologists to have a license.

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 14 percent

Number of People Employed (2016): 36,600

Projected Job Openings (2016-2026): 5,000

Median Annual Salary (2017): $69,930

Sources: "Fastest-Growing Careers," CareerOneStop, Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online.