There are many reasons why students choose to enter an associate degree program. Maybe they want to advance their skills and get a better position in their workplace, specialize in a field, change their career path, go from a low paying job to a career, or something else.
Whatever the reason may be, sometimes an associate degree can turn your life around. The benefits of an associate degree are huge, and there are many paths you can follow with an associate degree program and specialize in what you want.
Types of Associate Degrees
Based on what they aim to achieve and their methods, associate degrees are divided into four types. The four types of associate degrees are:
AA Degree – Associate of Arts
If you are passionate about arts and wish to get into an art-related career, then an Associate of Arts Degree might be an excellent choice for you to consider. An Associate of Arts Degree is a two-year study program intended for students interested in art and its fields, including history, communication, art, music, and literature.
AS Degree – Associate of Science
An Associate of Science Degree is also a two-year study program. As the name clearly indicates, this degree is aimed at students who are interested in more science-related fields such as math, medicine, and engineering. The courses provided by this are equal to completing two years of a Bachelor’s Degree.
AAA Degree – Associate of Applied Arts
An Associate of Applied Arts Degree, on the other hand, offers specialized courses and training, focusing on social sciences and humanitarian courses. This degree is designed to help prepare students to enter the job market immediately after graduation.
AAS Degree – Associate of Applied Science
An Associate of Applied Sciences, similarly to an Associate of Applied Arts Degree, is a career-centered program designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to pursue careers in fields like engineering, healthcare, and construction.
The most significant difference between these types of associate degrees is that the applied arts and science take a more practical turn, bringing the focus to perfecting vocational skills. Meanwhile, an AS degree and an AA degree give attention to theory as well and are frequently aimed at students who want to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree program.
What Is an Associate Degree?
An associate degree, much like other degrees, is an academic award given to students upon the completion of an undergraduate program that generally lasts about two years. The level of qualification falls somewhere between the high-school diploma and that of a bachelor’s degree.
However, an associate degree is an effective way of getting into the job market fast and with adequate skills. An associate program aims to equip students with the basic academic and technical knowledge needed to further their employment. These programs often focus on transferable skills, so students can find it easier to find their way in the workforce or if they choose to further their study plan.
Many students use an associate degree as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. This could happen for a number of reasons, most of them being personal. But, a significant factor in this leap is the fact that the credits you get from an associate degree are transferable, and you might not have to retake classes. Although, that also depends on the university or college.
Benefits of an Associate Degree
There are many advantages to getting an associate degree, whether they’re related to time-saving, cost-effectiveness, or flexibility. This can especially come in handy to those who can’t or don’t want to commit to a four-year program.
So, with the advantages of an associate degree being many, it comes as no surprise that such programs have been embraced by colleges and universities alike. Many students turn to associate’s degree programs because they want a quicker way in the job market, and it’s a perfect way to acquire all the skills needed to further their careers.
An associate degree program offers flexibility in more than one way. For instance, there are many online options for getting an associate degree, which can save time for those who don’t have the luxury of free time and have to maintain busy schedules.
The flexibility factor plays a vital role in decision making, especially with those who are trying to achieve education while maintaining a family or a job. It can be hard to juggle a university and other responsibilities, which is the reason an associate degree seems desirable.
The effect an associate degree has on cost is closely related to the amount of time it takes to acquire the degree and how quickly you can get a job with it. Since an associate degree program takes less time to finish, it tends to cost less than others, and as such, saves you money.
Plus, with it being a more short-term commitment, it can be easier to pay off the student debt if you start earning a salary earlier. Many students find this particularly useful when trying to decide what kind of academic program they want to choose and how they want to further their education.
3. Likeliness to graduate
Since associate degree programs usually take less time to finish and they focus more on skills, students will be more likely to get to the end-point. As opposed to a bachelor’s degree, which takes a long-term commitment, it is less likely that you will drop-out of this program if you have other time-consuming duties on your hand.
So, if you are someone who isn’t sure how much time they can reserve for studies, an associate degree could be a fantastic option for you. And, even if that doesn’t describe you, it can always serve as a safe step towards a bigger goal.
4. Job opportunities
An associate degree says you have skills valuable to employers. A person with a degree nearly always has an advantage over someone without a degree both in the hiring process and the promotion process. An associate degree says you are willing to work hard to meet your goals. It shows that you know what you want, and you are willing to do the work to get there.
An associate degree says you are serious about your career and willing to get the education needed in order to stay up-to-date in your field. Companies look for employees who are not only employable but who keep their knowledge base current and are willing to upgrade their skills periodically through continuing education courses or degree programs. Technology changes, so it is essential for employers to have knowledge of new programs and practices.
5. Specializing in a field
Associate degree programs tend to focus on a specific field, making it highly valuable to students who are interested in specializing in a particular field. If you are someone who wants to jump straight from the classroom to a workplace, then entering this program would be an excellent solution.
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Having an associate degree in your resume is likely to impress any hiring manager, so long as it is compatible with the job that you are trying to get. Employers can look at your transcript to know exactly what skills you bring to the position; whereas, it is harder to document the skills of someone without verifiable education.
6. You get prepared for actual jobs
When thinking of getting an associate degree, you should keep in mind what job you are going after. An associate degree does prep you with the skills needed to land a job as soon as you have a diploma in your hands, but the requirements change depending on the field and the organizations themselves.
However, it is most likely that an entry-level job will be well within your reach once you’ve gotten a hold of these credentials. And, there are many careers you can follow without a need to strive for a bachelor’s degree because it isn’t needed in a specific job market.
7. Higher earning potential
It is worth noting that having an associate degree will significantly increase the chances of getting employed, rather than only having a high school diploma. Not only that, but your salary is likely to increase with post-secondary credentials in your CV.
Even if you are already employed, you can always opt for an online program that offers more flexibility and rewards you with a promotion or a raise.
How Long Does It Take To Get An Associate Degree
The general answer to this question would be that an Associate degree typically takes up to two years to finish. However, you should know that the estimated time for completion depends on three important factors.
Firstly, it depends on the type of Associate degree you choose to pursue, as some may take more time to complete than others. As we previously mentioned, the Associate of Arts and the Associate of Science degrees are two-year study programs. However, getting an Associate of Applied Science Degree may take more time. The reason for this is because a typical Associate of Applied Science Degree requires 60 to 80 credit hours, depending on the program of your choice, as opposed to other associate degrees that require from 48 to 60 credit hours.
Secondly, it depends on whether you are a full-time or part-time student. Generally, those who study part-time may take longer than full-time students to complete their associate degree.
The third factor is whether you decide to take face-to-face classes or get the associate degree online. If you choose to go with the second option, you will be able to finish your associate degree in less than two years, thanks to the accelerated courses delivered by online programs.
So, Does an Associate Degree Matter?
When considering this educational path, you are likely to calculate whether associate degrees are worth it, or not. While there is no clear-cut answer, as that largely depends on your desired career and the time you are willing to put in, an associate degree is definitely a powerful tool when it comes to making your way in the workplace.
Whether you’re considering an associate degree program as a first step towards a more long-term academic plan, or it’s the program most compatible with your financial situation, there are many benefits to it. An associate degree holds weight, mainly in entry-level jobs, and it can also prove invaluable when entering a four-year program. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a lifelong career from your associate degree. Mainly, what you do after an associate degree depends on your personal choices and what your field requires.
When entering the workforce, having a degree will help you navigate. There are many benefits to it, from the fact that it takes little time to complete, to the skill perfecting program it offers. Whether it is the right qualification for you or not depends on your preferences, circumstances, and chosen field. Anyhow, we wish you luck with your degree, whatever your choice may be!