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Associates Degree Information

Why the Associate degree isn’t just for transferring students anymore

When students want to focus on what job skills they want to begin work quickly, many are bypassing the traditional college experience to enter the workforce straight out of career schools. Jobs in some of the most quickly-expanding fields today, such as information technology and healthcare, are receiving more preference from those with two-year Associate degrees. Why is this?

According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two occupations requiring only an Associate degree--paralegal and dental hygienist--are projected to be among the top twenty fastest-growing jobs in the next decade. The demand for both jobs is expected to rise more than 30 percent by 2014, and both are highly-rated in terms of annual compensation.
• Dental hygienists - $43,000 per year
• Paralegals in state or federal courts - $35,000 and $60,000 respectively

Other in-demand healthcare jobs that career school students are registering for include:
• Physical Therapy Assistants
• Opticians
• Medical Assistants

Even more amazing, some of the top in-demand jobs over the next 10 years don’t even require a two-year degree. The job whose demand is going to absolutely skyrocket over the next decade is the home health aide. This position only requires a short certification for employment, in most cases.

And this demand among potential students follows right along with increasing opportunities. In larger urban areas like Los Angeles, the community college and technical school system serves over 100,000 students every semester. Yet even with high enrollment numbers and availability of courses, the demand for training outpaces the classroom space. There are waiting lists to get into high-profile, Associate degree programs like nursing.

"People go with the trends and the times," says Christine Kirk, a program supervisor at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC). "A few years ago, everyone flooded the IT programs. (These days) our students are looking at new fields, such as healthcare."

That focus seems to be paying off for many students. According to an SCCC study, students graduating from an Associate of Applied Science or certification program:

• Have a better chance of finding a job (up to 10 percent better)
• Earned a higher salary than those with two-year degrees.

It’s becoming less of a secret these days that career-oriented schools are also a great option for students who wish to explore growing fields that don't require a four-year degree. Is it the right option for you?


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