2 year degree

Associate degree programs are typically finished in two years and can result in a wide-range of high-paying career options in growing industries.

High-Growth Sectors for Associate’s Degrees

Let’s take a look at the career areas with the highest expected growth. These are some of the sectors in the job market where you can expect to find many excellent opportunities.

The Medical Field

One of the fastest-growing industries in today’s job market is in the medical field. While you may think an advanced degree is required to work in healthcare, that is not the case. Many of the leading medical fields require an associate’s degree from a community or health sciences college. 

  • Radiologic and MRI Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Medical Sonographer
  • Personal Care Aides
  • Home Health Aides
  • Medical or Nursing Assistants

Information Technology

With the ever-expanding growth and dependence on technology, the job market has a continuous need for individuals trained in software and technology. Some of the high-growth jobs in technology that require an associate’s degree or less include: 

  • Web Developers
  • Computer Network Specialist

The Top Careers Requiring An Associates Degree 

Air Traffic Controller

  • Salary: $122,410
  • Job Forecast: 3%
  • Number of Jobs: 24,900

Air traffic controllers help maintain the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of air travel by directing the flow of traffic through our nation’s airports. They give out landing and takeoff instructions and supervise the movement of planes on the ground and in the air. While many of the positions recommend a four-year degree, air traffic controller schools offer two-year associate degrees that concentrate specifically on the career.

Radiation Therapist

  • Salary: $80,160
  • Job Forecast: 12%
  • Number of Jobs: 19,100

As a radiation therapist, you will work to treat cancer and other diseases using radiation treatments. Those in this profession tend to work in hospitals, but they can also be found in doctor’s offices and outpatient centers. Not only does this job come with a salary of $80,160, it also has outstanding expected job growth.

Nuclear Technician

  • Salary: $79,140
  • Job Forecast: 1%
  • Number of Jobs: 6,900

By operating special equipment, these highly trained professionals help with nuclear research and energy production. They can monitor radiation levels, assist engineers, or work with physicists to build safe, reliable nuclear energy. Typically, nuclear technicians will need an associate’s degree in nuclear science or a related technology, but can expect only minimal growth of only 1 percent in demand.

Radiologic & MRI Technologist

  • Salary: $58,960
  • Job Forecast: 12%
  • Number of Jobs: 30,200

Therapists work in hospitals or clinics and use radiation treatments to treat cancer and other diseases. Most states require they be properly licensed or certified, but educational training often requires only an associate’s degree. The career is expected to grow by 12 percent, making it stable and profitable.

Computer Programmer

  • Salary: $79,840
  • Job Forecast: -8%
  • Number of Jobs: 294,900

To function properly, computer applications and software need the proper codes which are created by computer programmers. Often, many have a bachelor’s degree, but you can find employers hiring those with an associate’s degree as well. The position, however, is expected to decline by 8 percent, losing 22,600 jobs between now and 2026 (note that there are 300,000 jobs, so opportunities are there.)

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

  • Salary: $74,350
  • Job Forecast: 10%
  • Number of Jobs: 20,100

Professionals working in the field of medical imaging use safe doses of radiation to generate information on a patient’s body which is then used by doctors to diagnose or administer treatments. This career typically requires an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear technology program. At 10 percent expected growth, this field offers a  steady and well-paying career. 

Dental Hygienist

  • Salary: $72,910
  • Job Forecast: 20%
  • Number of Jobs: 207,900

Dental Hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, communicating with patients about proper dental hygiene and assisting the dentist. All states require proper licensing, and this career is expected to grow 20 percent between now and 2026.

Registered Nurse

  • Salary: $68,450
  • Job Forecast: 15%
  • Number of Jobs: 2,955,200

An associate’s degree in Nursing, or ADN, is a faster and more affordable option even though a bachelor’s level education is a more common choice. Many nurses eventually move on to a four-year degree, but the two-year program will help land a job and gain valuable experience.

Web Developer

  • Salary: $66,130
  • Job Forecast: 13%
  • Number of Jobs: 161,900

You could make a significant income with only a two-year degree if you have a talent in computers and complex coding. Web developers usually need an associate’s degree, and the career field is predicted to grow by 13 percent, so your skills will likely be in high demand.

Medical Sonographer

  • Salary: $64,280
  • Job Forecast: 17%
  • Number of Jobs: 122,300

Medical sonographers create images of the body using special imaging equipment which is then used by doctors to assess and diagnose patients. A sonographer is specially trained in the use of an ultrasonic imaging device, which uses sound waves and vibrations to create an image of a specified organ.

Electronic Engineering Technician

  • Salary: $62,190
  • Job Forecast: 2%
  • Number of Jobs: 137,000

Working directly with electronics’ physical technology, these professionals help design a wide range of equipment, including navigational devices, electrical components, medical technology and communications tools. Coupled with the right associate’s degree, someone can work in this field for both government and private companies.

Police Officer

  • Salary: $61,600
  • Job Forecast: 7%
  • Number of Jobs: 807,000

By protecting lives and property, police officers allow our society to function properly. The work can be physically and emotionally demanding, as well as dangerous, but it can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Job prospects are also expected to be good in the near future, with 7 percent growth between now and 2026.

Avionics Technician

  • Salary: $60,270
  • Job Forecast: 5%
  • Number of Jobs: 149,500

These are the repair and maintenance technicians of the air-travel industry. They work in hangars, repair stations, and airfields, helping to ensure that the airplanes are properly maintained and (even more importantly) a safe landing. Although the pay is excellent, there is only an expected job growth of 5 percent, which is slightly under the national average.

Respiratory Therapist

  • Salary: $58,670
  • Job Forecast: 23%
  • Number of Jobs: 130,200

When you hear the term “respiratory therapist,” think “helping people breathe.” This, quite literally, is the job description, as people in this field help anyone with a lung problem, including disease or injury, to get the oxygen they need. With good pay and an expected job growth of 23 percent, this is a fantastic career opportunity.

Telecom Installer

  • Salary: $53,640
  • Job Forecast: -8%
  • Number of Jobs: 237,600

The responsibilities of this job require maintainance and repair of any equipment that carries communication. This can include internet connections, telephone lines and communication devices. Some will work with homeowners while others may serve the commercial sector. However, the demand for this career has dropped because many people are going wireless, which often requires less service, maintenance and repair. 

Funeral Service Worker

  • Salary: $54,830
  • Job Forecast: 5%
  • Number of Jobs: 54,400

This career combines training in ethics, science, law and many other areas. But it is possible to enter the position of a funeral service worker with as little as an associate’s degree. This position requires a flexible schedule as many in this career will work evenings and weekends, often well beyond an eight-hour work day.

Drafter

  • Salary: $53,480
  • Job Forecast: 7%
  • Number of Jobs: 207,700

Using software to create technical drawings, drafters are essential for designing and engineering items as small as microchips and as large as skyscrapers. The position requires highly-specific training, which can usually be acquired through a two-year degree. While most of the work in done in an office, drafters will visit job sites and collaborate with other team members on a regular basis.

Computer Network Specialist

  • Salary: $52,160
  • Job Forecast: 10%
  • Number of Jobs: 835,300

Nearly every organization and business uses a network of computers, and they call on computer support specialists to keep the system running properly. While some of the positions may require a bachelor’s degree, specific training in an associate’s degree program is enough to launch this career.

Paralegal

  • Salary: $49,500
  • Job Forecast: 15%
  • Number of Jobs: 285,600

The career of a paralegal is very profitable and it generally requires only an associate’s degree to enter the field. This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in the legal profession, which will help you pursue a career in the legal system. The job entails many responsibilities, such as organizing, conducting research and drafting documents.

HVAC Installer

  • Salary: $45,910
  • Job Forecast: 15%
  • Number of Jobs: 332,900

These professionals work on many different heating and cooling systems, involving home and appliances. Depending on the specific training, they may work on a home’s duct and furnace system, or they may be able to repair refrigeration units. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an apprenticeship and a postsecondary education.

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