You don’t have to get a four-year degree to work a high-paying job. An associate degree can land you in a job that pays you a nice salary. Let’s look at the highest-paying associate degree jobs available today.
Top Associate Degrees for Highest Paying Job Options
1. Air Traffic Controller
Payscale.com puts the average salary for an air traffic controller at about $92K. However, the range can go as high as about $158K. This is a very high-paying job and it only requires an associate degree.
As an air traffic controller, you will communicate with pilots, other aviation personnel, and grounds crews. Your job will include coordinating the movement of aircraft. You will communicate with pilots through all states of the flight, along with monitoring departures, approaches, and en-route activities.
You will need to get an associate degree that has been approved by an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative. This type of degree will teach you all about aviation technology, airport management, aviation regulations, and air traffic control procedures.
If you go into this type of career, expect it to be fast-paced and rather high-stress. You will need to focus very well and make quick decisions. Excellent communication skills are also necessary.
2. Information Systems Security Technician
Another high-paying job only requiring an associate degree is one as an information systems security technician. The average salary will come in around $97K per year. This type of person will be responsible for big-name clients and the individual user access with the computer system. As a security technician, you will analyze the collective data, log access requests, maintain security files, and help to track the trends in user activity.
You will need to gain a basic understanding of network security, routers, switches, hubs, firewall administration, and more. While the average information systems security technician earns $97K per year, this position can pay as much as $188K per year.
3. Biomedical Technician
Earn a salary averaging about $88,500 per year as a biomedical technician with just an associate degree. This is one of the highest-paying associate degree jobs you will find. You will be in charge of servicing, repairing, monitoring, and setting up the medical equipment at clinics, private health organizations, and hospitals.
You will learn all about technology and most people taking on this position are very ambitious. This is also a growing field with plenty of new opportunities opening up regularly.
4. Computer Programmer
Technology is a booming industry today and becoming a computer programmer offers a high-paying job only requiring an associate degree. The average salary is about $82K per year for this position. While it’s not a growing career option, there are plenty of good computer programmer jobs available.
Many programmers will have a bachelor’s degree, but you can certainly start with an associate degree. It’s common to start in this career and earn your bachelor’s degree to gain access to advancement opportunities.
5. Radiation Therapists
You can go into the field of healthcare as a radiation therapist with just an associate degree. This type of position pays an average salary of around $85K per year.
As a radiation therapist, you will administer radiation treatments. You will operate the machines that deliver radiation to treat cancers and tumors. Often, this career is found in a hospital or clinic.
6. Nuclear Technicians
Another high-paying associate degree job is one as a nuclear technician. This position pays around $82K per year and offers a great field for those looking to just go to college for two years.
You can work at a nuclear energy facility or in a research laboratory. As a nuclear technician, you will spend time testing for radiation, monitoring equipment, and making sure safety procedures are followed.
An associate degree in nuclear technology or nuclear science will allow you to apply for this type of position. You may need to gain experience through an internship first, but you won’t need an advanced degree. It may also be necessary to get certifications from the American Society of Nondestructive Testing or the Nuclear Energy Institute.
7. Registered Nurse
As a registered nurse, you can earn a salary of around $75K per year. You can work in a hospital, care facility, or another medical facility. This is a very popular position for those looking to earn an associate degree.
Careers in nursing are growing like crazy. It’s expected that the growth will be about 15% over the next six years or so. Registered nurses can be hired in all kinds of places. It’s a great way to get into nursing and start your career with just an associate degree.
8. Dental Hygienists
Another healthcare career only requiring an associate degree is a dental hygienist. This career earns a salary of about $76K per year. It’s growing at a rate of about 11% over the next ten years, as well.
As a dental hygienist, you will clean teeth, take dental x-rays, administer fluoride and sealant treatments, and inspect for oral diseases. You will work closely with dentists and assist in treatment plan development.
The degree program will teach you about anatomy, along with safety protocols, medical ethics, and periodontics. It’s a two-year degree program and needs to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
9. Computer Forensics Specialists
With an average salary of nearly $73K per year, this is one of the highest paying associate degree jobs. If you want to go to school for two years and work in forensics, this is a great option.
as a computer forensics specialist, you’ll assist law enforcement and government agencies with criminal investigations. You might get recruited by the CIA to work on specific issues or you might work at the state level.
While the average salary is about $73K, you can earn more than $100K in this career. You will need professional certification or an associate degree to work as a computer forensics specialist.
10. Web Developer
Another great career you can start with an associate degree is one as a web developer. This position pays an average salary of around $68K. You will learn how to develop websites through complex coding. This career path is growing by about 13% over the next few years and you can even work as a freelancer in the web developer field.
11. MRI Technologist
It’s a healthcare career putting you in charge of operating magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRI) in hospitals and health clinics. You will not only operate the machines but also provide data analysis.
It’s common for an MRI technologist to earn around $72K per year. You will likely work with radiologists to perform CAT scans, MRIs, and x-rays. If you’re good at your job, you might earn as much as $99K per year in this career.
An associate degree program or a professional certificate can get you into this career. It’s expected to grow by about 13% over the next six years, as well.
12. Fashion Buyer
If you love fashion, you can become a fashion buyer and earn around $67K per year. This career offers a fun option for those that can set trends and have an eye for fashion. If you’re good at your job, you can earn a six-figure salary with some experience.
Fashion buyers help to make sure the necessary clothing has been purchased and stocked for a company. They help to maintain relationships with supplies and designers. While this position may require a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, you can get a job with an associate degree, too. You may need a more advanced degree to advance in this career, however.
13. Electrical Engineering Technician
This position pays about $65K per year. It might not be the highest-paying associate degree job on the list, but it might be perfect for you. As an electrical engineering technician, you will be responsible for different types of electrical equipment, creating prototypes, repairing instruments, designing electrical systems, and testing equipment.
You will likely work for a major electricity company. The average salary might be around $65K per year, but you can earn as much as $85K in this poison. It will require an associate degree in electrical engineering technology to get started in this career.
14. Court Reporter
A unique career you can work in with an associate degree is one of a court reporter. You can earn around $62K per year in this career. If you like the idea of transcribing what is going on in a courtroom, this might be the career for you.
It’s common for court reporters to work in the broadcasting industry to provide closed-captioning for political speeches, sporting events, and other live televised programs. The highest-paid court reporters with an associate degree will earn more than $100K per year.
You will need a professional certificate or associate degree to work in this career. It’s a growing career by about 4% over the next six years.
15. Occupational Therapy Assistant
Earn around $60K per year working as an occupational therapy assistant with an associate degree. If you can work with many different people and you want to help others, this might be the perfect career for you.
As an occupational therapy assistant, you will diagnose, prescribe, and interact with therapy patients during rehabilitation. It’s common to work with those recovering from an injury. You can earn as much as $91,500 per year in this career.
Often, you will get an associate degree in psychology to enter into this career. Occupational therapy assistants are expected to see a 29% increase in the next six years.
16. Food Service Manager
If you want to go into the restaurant business, becoming a food service manager is a good choice. This job pays an average salary of around $59K per year. However, you can earn as much as $97K per year, if you’re good at your job.
It will only take a high school diploma to become a food service manager. However, getting an associate degree in business or hospitality can help you land a job much easier.
17. Mechanical Drafter
Earn around $58K per year as a mechanical drafter with an associate degree or professional certification. This career is expected to see about a 5% increase over the next few years.
This type of career will put you in charge of drafting and designing plans. You will calculate dimensions, draw up plans, and contract models for automated systems. If you’re good at your job, you can certainly earn more than the average salary.
18. Wind Turbine Service Technician
With alternative energy booming, more and more wind turbine service technicians will be necessary. This career is expected to see a 95% increase over the next few years, which makes it one of the fastest-growing career options.
As a wind turbine service technician, you can earn an average salary of about $58K. The top of the salary range is around $83,500, however. You will work on the technology that controls a wind turbine by diagnosing issues and repairing them.
Along with these 18 highest paying associate degree jobs, you can go into one of the following and still earn more than $50K per year:
- Mechanical Engineering Technician – $58K per year
- Production Agriculture Salesperson – $57K per year
- Physical Therapist Assistant – $57K per year
- Electro-Mechanical Technicians – $58K per year
- Funeral Service Workers – $58K per year
- Computer Support Specialists – $54K per year
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants – $52K per year
- Telecom Installer – $54K per year
Many jobs can be had with just an associate degree. When you want to earn a nice salary, but you don’t want to spend four or more years in college, consider a career from this list.
There are many great careers you can go into and a variety are offered for those with an associate degree. It’s also common to take a high-paying associate degree job and move up after getting a more advanced degree. However, you don’t have to get an advanced college degree to enjoy a high-paying job.