2 Occupational Outlook Quarterly ● Winter 2002-03
In 2 years, you can train for some of
the fastest growing jobs in the
economy, increase your earnings, and
pave the way for further education.
How? Earn an associate degree. An
associate degree is a college degree
awarded after the completion of about 20
classes. It either prepares students for a
career following graduation or allows them
to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.
Compared with workers whose highest level
of educational attainment was a high school
diploma, workers with an associate degree
averaged an extra $128 a week in 2001, accord-
ing to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
People with associate degrees also are more likely
to find jobs: the unemployment rate in 2001 was
more than 30 percent lower for associate degree
holders compared with high school graduates. And,
according to several academic studies, advantages in
the job market might be even greater for those just
starting their careers and for those who work in a career
related to their degree.
But for most people, the best part about earning an
associate degree is the opportunity to enter interesting
professions. Training is available for those with nearly any
interest, from technical fields like electronics and health care
Olivia Crosby is a contributing editor to the OOQ, (202) 691-5716.
Two years to a career
or a jump start to a
by Olivia Crosby
to liberal arts areas, such as design and social work. And
according to BLS, occupations in which workers often are
required to have an associate degree are growing faster than
occupations that require other types of training.
The hallmark of associate degrees is flexibility, both in
what to study and how to study it. Degrees are available from
public community colleges, private 2-year colleges, for-profit
technical institutes, and many 4-year colleges and universi-
ties. Taking classes from home is more common in associate
degree programs than in any other type of educational
credentials program, wi