For those choosing degrees based on earning potential, here are the top five associate's degrees based on the corresponding profession's starting salary:
1. Nursing - The nursing profession is a very stable occupation that is always in demand. An Associate's degree in nursing is enough to enter the field and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer, both financial and intrinsic. Nurses generally work in hospitals and assist doctors in many areas such as blood tests, surgery preparation, and basic patient diagnosis. While nothing can substitute the joy of healing patients, the $52,700 average starting salary for nurses provides another great incentive for entering the profession.
2 Computer Science - An Associate's degree in computer science opens the door to further education in the field or a career as a computer support specialist. Computer support specialists serve as guides helping people navigate through the maze of technology. They provide support and troubleshooting services for organizations. The average starting salary for a computer support specialist ranges from $29,624 to $48,664.
3. Nuclear Engineering - While becoming a nuclear engineer requires at least a Bachelor's degree in the field, an Associate's degree in nuclear engineering allows students to become nuclear technicians. Nuclear technicians generally work a typical 40 hour work week in laboratory settings monitoring and maintaining machines that utilize nuclear physics. The average starting salary for a nuclear technician is about $42,550 per year.
4. Paralegal - Becoming a lawyer requires a considerable amount of schooling, but the people who assist lawyers in their cases and work only require an Associate's degree to enter the profession. Paralegals must be versed in much of the same knowledge as lawyers because they aid lawyers in conducting research for cases, contacting clients and witnesses, and generating new business. The average starting salary for paralegals is between $28,862 and $38,761.
5. Dental Hygiene - An associate's degree in dental hygiene can lead to lucrative opportunities for the student. The career available directly from this degree is that of a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists generally have flexible schedules, and can work full or part-time depending on their preferences. They work in the relaxed environment of a dental office and assist the dentist in teeth cleanings, x-rays, and other dental work. The average starting salary is $20 to $30 per hour, which if extracted a full-time income is between $40,000 and $60,000 per year.