5 of the Best-Paying 2-Year Degrees

For those who want an education but need to enter the workforce quickly, an associate’s degree can be the ideal solution

By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2011

Highest-Paying Jobs With a 2-Year Degree.
Highest-Paying Jobs With a 2-Year Degree.

A 2010 report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors – entitled Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow – notes that the fastest-growing occupations are those that require education beyond high school. However, a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree is not necessary to enter many of those fields.

A two-year degree, such as an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS) is often enough to enter a secure and lucrative profession. In fact, some of the highest-paying two-year degrees can allow you to earn more than many bachelor’s-degree holders. Here are five of the best-paying two-year degrees:

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1. Health Information Technology Associate’s Degree: Professionals in the health information technology field keep patient records, code those records for insurance purposes and issue bills to the appropriate parties. An associate’s degree is the standard for entering the field, but make sure the program you attend is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Average Pay: $25,000 - $54,555 annually*

Job Growth: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates indicate that _health information technology jobs should grow by 20% through 2018. This pace is faster than the average of all other occupations.**

[Search for health information technology degree programs now!]

2. Medical Assisting Associate’s Degree: Medical assistants work in hospitals and physicians’ offices, doing clerical work and routine healthcare tasks. This can include billing, filing, scheduling, administering diagnostic tests and helping patients fill out necessary forms. An associate’s degree is the standard education for this field.

Average Pay: $19,714 - $39,917*

Job Growth: The BLS predicts that employment of medical assistants will grow by an amazing 34% through 2018 – a pace that is much higher than the average for all occupations.**

[Search for medical assisting associate’s degree programs now!]

3. Paralegal Associate’s Degree: Paralegals assist lawyers with investigating clients and witnesses, preparation of briefs and cases, and research into laws and precedents. Because paralegals are now asked to perform many jobs once reserved for lawyers, an Associate's degree in Paralegal Studies is usually preferred over a certificate by employers.

Average Pay: $35,376 - $52,470*

Job Growth: According to the BLS, employment of paralegals will increase by 28% through 2018 – a pace that is much faster than average when compared to all occupations.**

[Search for paralegal associate’s degree programs now!]

4. Radiologic Technology Associate’s Degree: Radiologic technicians use devices like x-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines to help diagnose ailments. An Associate’s degree in Radiologic Technology can qualify you for a wide variety of positions in this field. Most states also require licensure, usually administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Average Pay: $36,894 - $52,604*

Job Growth: The BLS estimates employment for radiologic technologists will grow by 17% through 2018, a faster-than-average rate compared to all professions.**

[Search for radiologic technology associate’s degree programs now!]

5. Web Development Associate’s Degree: Web developers – also called web designers or interactive graphic designers – create websites for businesses, individuals and organizations that want a presence on the Internet. Good computer skills, some artistic talent and a web development associate’s degree is typically enough to get you started in this field.

Average Pay: $38,339 - $62,320*

Job Growth: The BLS classifies web development as part of the “Computer Network, Systems and Database Administrators” job category, for which it predicts 30% growth through 2018. This increase is much faster than the average for all occupations.**

[Search for web development associate’s degree programs now!]

*Income data from Payscale.com
**Job growth data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 – 2011 edition

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