Everyone thinks about a 4-year degree when they think of college, but you can get just as much career success by getting an associate degree instead. An associate degree is a degree that takes 2 years to get and is essentially one step below a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees are offered at 4-year universities but are also commonly offered at community colleges, junior colleges, and trade schools.
So if you thought the only way to get ahead was a bachelor's degree, not so fast. Here's what you should know about getting an associate degree.
1. Think strategy and salary when getting your associate's
When you find out how many important jobs that pay well require only an associate degree, you can start to understand the type of potential you are dealing with. Some of the best associate-degree fields include the heating and cooling business, web design, physical therapy assistants, dental assistants. and technical drawing. You can get an associate degree to serve as an end game for one of those types of jobs, or you could get your degree and then take one of those jobs to start going down that career track.
You can even get an associate degree to take one of these jobs so that you can pay for the rest of your schooling. Someone who knows that they want to be a dentist can get an associate degree to become a dental assistant that earns $40,000 a year. Having that salary after 2 years can help you pay for the rest of your undergraduate schooling, on the way to going to dental school. By the time you finish dental school, you will have already had several years under your belt working in the dental field!
2. Choose a program that lets you expedite the track through online courses
Even though an associate degree takes 2 years, you can expedite it even more through online courses. It is easier to accelerate a program online since you can take multiple courses without being beholden to class times and having to be there in person. The sooner you finish your degree, the sooner you can start making money.
3. Get some resume boosters and experience ASAP
As soon as you start taking some classes toward your associate degree, ask your professors and department heads about volunteer and internship opportunities. The availability of this kind of work will help you earn some free experience and some notches on your resume. That'll be a deciding factor when you are applying for a job at the end of it and the decision is between you and another candidate with less experience.
Use these strategies to help you get your associate degree.