Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Associate’s Degree: Expanding Occupational Opportunities

An associate’s degree can be a valuable asset to obtaining a well-paying career. In 2012, workers with an associate’s degree had higher median earnings than those with only a high school education, $785 versus $652 weekly. That equates to an additional $6,916 per year in earnings.

Approximately 8 percent of Oregon’s population 25 years and older have an associate’s degree as their highest level of education attainment. In the 2010-2011 academic year, there were approximately 10,900 associate’s degrees conferred by institutions in Oregon. About 5,300 of these degrees -- nearly half! -- went to graduates of liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities programs.

Health professions and related programs was the second most common associate’s degree field in Oregon with about 1,700 degrees awarded. Roughly one-third of these were registered nursing degrees. From 2010-2020, registered nurses are projected to have a significant number of job openings -- about 1,450 annually.

There are many more occupations in Oregon where an associate’s degree is either required or lends a competitive advantage to an applicant. Of the total projected openings from 2010 to 2020, approximately 14 percent, or almost 9,200 annual openings, either require applicants to have an associate’s degree or the degree makes them more competitive in the labor market.

Several of these occupations pay above-average wages. For instance: graphic designers, executive secretaries and auto mechanics earn more than $20 an hour on average. Police officers, nurses, and dental hygienists earn more than $30 an hour on average.

To see more examples of high-paying, high-growth occupations that only require an associate's degree, check out the full article by the brilliant and talented Mr. Martin Kraal.

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