Do associate degrees lead to high-paying jobs? Can you earn $50,000, $70,000 or even a six-figure salary with only a two-year degree?

Bachelor’s degrees and above tend to give graduates a higher earning potential compared to an associate degree. However, an associate degree can also put students on the path to a career with a high median salary.

Associate degrees in the right fields can help you get a job with earning potential way above the national average salary for an associate degree or even a four-year degree. If you have been thinking that you can’t earn much with only a two-year degree, the highest-paying associate degree jobs can land you a job with a median annual wage well above what you would expect.

What Are Associate Degrees?

Commonly called a two-year degree, an associate degree is an undergraduate degree usually awarded by community colleges and junior colleges. An associate degree is the first level of college degree a student could earn after getting their high school diploma. Typically, an associate degree requires just 60 credits of college coursework, compared to the 120 credits needed to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Associates degree programs offered by a community college can prepare you for direct entry into the job market or for further study at a four-year college or university. Some of the types of associate degree programs available are Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees. Associate degree jobs exist in all fields, including highly technical areas like healthcare, engineering and computer technology.

How Much Can I Earn in Associate Degree Jobs?

Your income potential with an associate degree varies according to the subject you study and the job you pursue with it. The best-paying associate degree jobs pay significantly more than the average job you can get with any old associate degree.

As of 2021, the median weekly earnings for full-time American workers with an associate degree was $963, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This weekly wage translates to a median salary of $50,076 per year. That’s considerably more than workers with only a high school education made – $809 per week, or $42,068 per year. However, it’s still significantly less than the $1,334 per week, or $69,368 per year, median annual wage for workers with a bachelor’s degree.

These figures only represent the overall midpoint salaries for workers with each level of education, not the upper limits of your earning potential with an associate’s degree. Some of the highest-paying associate degree jobs correspond to median salaries that approach or even exceed the median wage for workers with a bachelor’s degree.

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The lowest-paying associate degree job on our list still has a median salary in the mid- to high-$50,000 range. Most of the jobs listed below have a median yearly salary in the $60,000 to $80,000 range, and a couple of these well-paying associate degree jobs pay even more. In fact, one particularly high-paying associate degree job reported a six-figure median wage. In terms of median annual wage, job prospects and job satisfaction, these well-paying associate degree jobs can constitute a rewarding career.

What Are the Highest Paying Associate Degrees?

Your ability to earn particularly good money with an associate degree depends on the field you study and the career to which you apply your education. If you want the best earning potential, you need the best associate degrees for top-paying job roles.

High-paying associate degree options include healthcare degrees that don’t require an advanced education, such as several types of medical technology and imaging programs. Other tech-related degrees can prepare workers for several of the best associate degree jobs.

Can You Earn an Associate’s Degree Online?

Associate’s degrees are widely available online. Studying online can add flexibility and convenience to your educational pursuits, especially if you don’t want to quit working to go back to school. Online associate degree programs often allow students to pursue their degrees on their schedule, although some schools do offer online options that include real-time virtual class meetings for students who prefer the feel of face-to-face interactions.

RELATED: 24 Fastest Online Associate’s Degrees 2021

However, not all programs of study are easy to find in fully online formats. Some of the best-paying associate degree jobs require a good deal of clinical experience or field experience. If you choose one of these associate degree programs, you may need to pursue a degree through a traditional in-person program. If you do find online associate degree programs in majors that require in-person experience, you may be able to complete coursework online and hands-on experiences in-person at field placement sites.

The Top Paying Jobs With Associate Degrees

High-paying jobs with an associate degree are out there – if you know what subjects to study and what path to pursue. The 10 associate degree jobs listed below offer exceptional earning potential.

1. Air Traffic Controller

If you’re not intimidated by the stress of coordinating the paths and movements of planes and other aircraft to prevent collisions (and close calls), you could put your associate degree to work in the role of air traffic controller. This high-paying path is one of the best associate degree jobs you could earn.

air traffic controller

The vast majority of air traffic controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration, the government agency that is responsible for enforcing aircraft regulations and keeping air travel safe by delivering landing instructions to approaching planes. Air traffic controllers may work as tower controllers or approach and departure controllers, typically in and near major airports, or as en route controllers at facilities that aren’t adjacent to airports.

An associate degree is one of several potential paths to a career as an air traffic controller. However, not just any degree will prepare you for this profession. Aspiring air traffic controllers should look for an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative, or AT-CTI, program that is approved by the FAA. There are more than two dozen active FAA-approved AT-CTI programs across the United States. Since AT-CTI programs may award either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, students should do some research before applying to make sure that the AT-CTI program they’re pursuing is the right fit for their planned career path.

In addition to an associate degree from an AT-CTI program, air traffic controllers must complete FAA academy training before age 31, pass both an FAA pre-employment test and the Air Traffic Controller Specialists Skills Assessment Battery and meet other qualifications.

Yearly Salary for Air Traffic Controllers

Based on median annual wage, air traffic controller is the highest-paid of all associate’s degree jobs.

The median air traffic controller salary in 2021 was $129,750, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the 91% of air traffic controllers working for the federal government, the median annual salary was $137,380. However, air traffic controllers earn much lower (though still well above average) salaries when they work in support activities for the air transportation industry , with a median annual wage of $79,580.

2. Medical Technician or Technologist

You probably think of most medical professionals as having an advanced degree, but there are jobs in the medical field with only an associate’s degree. In fact, nearly half of the highest paying associate degree jobs on our list fit into the healthcare field in some way, including the second-most lucrative job group, medical technicians and technologists.

medical technician

Medical technologists and technicians is an occupational group that includes radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, radiologic technologists and more.

RELATED: What Associate’s Degrees Are Good for a Career in the Health Care Industry?

You can’t be a doctor with an associate degree, but you can work in several roles that require less extensive knowledge of medicine and confer less autonomy. Aside from the other healthcare-related roles on our list, most of the associate’s degree jobs in the medical field are technician- and technologist-level jobs.

Medical technician and technologist jobs often involve using specialized medical equipment for clinical purposes. Medical technologists and technicians may perform X-rays, care for patients recovering from heart attacks, provide assistance to those with difficulty breathing and use special equipment to administer tests physicians use to diagnose patients for the purpose of treating their medical conditions.

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists operate machines that administer radiation treatments. Radiation therapy is most commonly used in the treatment of cancer patients but may also be used in certain diagnostic tests. In their associate degree program, a radiation therapist studies the procedures used to safely and effectively administer radioactive drugs and the underlying scientific theories of how radiation works in disease treatment.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Another high-paying associate degree job in medicine is nuclear medicine technician or technologist. Nuclear medicine technologists prepare radioactive drugs and medications and administer these drugs to patients in clinical settings. These radioactive drugs may be used for special diagnostic imaging tests or to treat known medical conditions. Most nuclear medicine technologists work in hospitals.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers, also called ultrasound technicians, operate imaging machines that use sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. A diagnostic medical sonographer may work in a variety of medical specialties. Diagnostic medical sonographers may perform imaging scans for diagnostic purposes or for the purpose of assisting with medical interventions, like biopsies, injections and surgical procedures.

Cardiovascular Technologist

Cardiovascular technologists perform imaging and testing that involves the patient’s heart and lungs. Performing electrocardiogram (EKG) tests is one job duty that cardiovascular technologists might perform. Cardiovascular technologists may also prepare patients to undergo open-heart surgery and other heart-related procedures. During cardiac procedures, cardiovascular technologists may help physicians monitor patients. Cardiovascular technologists need an associate degree in cardiovascular technology.

Radiologic or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist

Diagnostic medical sonographers aren’t the only technologists and technicians who use special imaging equipment. Radiologic and MRI technologists also conduct imaging tests, but they use different types of imaging equipment.

Radiologic technologists, also called radiographers, perform imaging in the form of X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, which involve radiation waves. MRI technologists produce images using magnetic resonance imaging machines.

These diagnostic tests both let physicians see what’s going on inside the body, but the specialized medical equipment utilize different types of imaging technology and show different structures of the body. Magnetic resonance imaging equipment uses magnets and radio waves to produce images of structures in the body that don’t appear well in X-ray images. Radiologic and MRI technologists both play a critical role in the health care system.

Respiratory Therapist

You can also use an associate degree to become a respiratory therapist or a medical equipment repairer.

Respiratory therapy refers to therapeutic medical intervention to help patients who suffer from difficulty breathing. A person with a serious lung illness or injury, for example, may be in need of respiratory care that only trained respiratory therapists can provide. Respiratory therapists perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause and extent of a patient’s difficulty breathing. As part of the patient’s treatment plan, respiratory therapists also administer treatments to patients who need assistance with breathing.

Medical Equipment Repairer

Medical equipment repairers do the work to install, test, calibrate, maintain and fix medical equipment used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Aspiring medical equipment repairers commonly pursue an associate degree in biomedical technology or a related field. In an Associate of Applied Science degree in biomedical technology, students spend two years learning about the electrical equipment, electronics and computer technology used in medical procedures and diagnostic testing. Students of biomedical technology programs learn the proper procedures for testing equipment and performing routine maintenance work as well as cultivating the skills to repair equipment when it isn’t working properly.

Medical Technicians and Technologists’ Salary

Radiation therapists are probably the best-paid technologists and therapists with an associate’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median radiation therapist salary of $82,790 in 2021.

For nuclear medicine technologists, the median annual salary in 2021 was $78,760. Diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual salary of $77,740 in 2021 – only very slightly more than MRI technologists. MRI technologists reported a 2021 median annual salary of $77,360.

The median annual respiratory therapist salary was $61,830 in 2021. Radiologic technologists earned a median wage of $61,370 as of 2021. For cardiovascular technologists and technicians, the median annual salary in 2021 was $60,570.

Medical equipment repairers reported earning a median annual salary of $49,910 in 2021.

3. Dental Hygienist

Another lucrative healthcare field you can work in with just an associate degree is dental hygiene. If you have ever been to any dental office or clinic, you have probably seen a dental hygienist. In fact, patients often spend more time with their dental hygienists than they do with their dentists. These dental health professionals examine, clean, polish and take X-ray images of patients’ teeth. During the examination, these healthcare professionals also check for signs of oral diseases.

dental hygienist

An associate’s degree in dental hygiene isn’t your average associate degree. While most associate degrees are two-year degree programs, an associate degree for dental hygienists typically takes three years of study, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it includes a great deal of clinical coursework. Aspiring dental hygienists should choose one of the more than 300 dental hygiene programs that has earned accreditation from the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation.

In addition to a dental hygiene associate’s degree, dental hygienists need a state license to start cleaning teeth in a professional position. Earning this license typically requires passing scores on both written and clinical licensing tests.

Dental Hygienist Salary

The median salary for dental hygienists in 2021 was $77,810 per year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. However, for dental hygienists who work for the government – only about 1% of the occupation – the median annual wage is considerably lower, at $64,110.

4. Registered Nurse

Registered nurses, or RNs, are a critical part of the healthcare system – and another of the highest paying associate degree jobs. RNs work in just about every medical specialty and every type of medical facility. They provide direct clinical care to patients using the nursing model of care, which emphasizes holistic patient care over the disease-focused medical model used by doctors and physician assistants.

registered nurse

An RN’s exact job duties may vary considerably depending on their specialty and work setting. However, registered nurses commonly perform tasks such as monitoring and observing patients, administering medications and other types of treatments and answering questions and educating patients on their care and treatment plan. If you have ever been in the hospital, it’s likely that you have relied on nurses to administer the medication your doctor has prescribed, check on your wellbeing throughout your state, keep your notes and charts up to date and otherwise help you as needed, while your doctor may have only seen you when making certain rounds or performing certain procedures.

RNs can approach the career from a few different educational paths, ranging from non-degree diploma or post-secondary certificate programs to bachelor’s degree programs. Education is becoming increasingly important for RNs. Many students see an Associate Degree in Nursing, or ADN, as a good middle ground that will allow them to prepare for the career quickly but will offer more extensive training and education than a diploma program. Some nurses get started by pursuing an associate’s degree, getting their nursing license and then going back to school – often taking advantage of employer tuition benefits – to complete their bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN program.

Like other healthcare and medical professionals, nurses need a license to practice. Only once they attain their nursing license are they qualified as a registered nurse. Generally, becoming an RN requires passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), as well as meeting all state licensing requirements.

Annual RN Salary

For registered nurses in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $77,600. On the high end of the salary range, nurses who work for the government – about 5% of the occupation – earned a median annual salary of $85,970. Hospitals, which employ more than 60% of nurses, paid a median annual salary of $78,070. The lowest paying industry for registered nurses was educational services, which accounted for 3% of the occupation and paid a median annual salary of $61,780.

5. Web Developer

Everyone has an Internet presence nowadays, and that’s good news for one of the highest-paid associate degree jobs. Web developers are the computer and information technology professionals who design and implement the technical architecture and features of a website.

web developer

While developers may concentrate on either the back-end framework of the website or the front-end layout, features and content, a good web developer possesses both computer and technology skills and skills in creative design. Web developers create websites using computer programming languages. They may build the technical construction of the website from scratch or go into the code of existing websites to make minor or major changes.

Unlike the other associate’s degree jobs that have appeared on our list so far, the web developer occupation isn’t regulated. You don’t need a license to work as or call yourself a web developer, and the education requirements that can lead to this career is also a lot more flexible. It isn’t so much that the position requires two-year degrees, in a strict sense, as it is that professionals working in this field need strong computer skills.

What you really need to be a web developer are the skills required to perform the technical work of building websites and sufficient qualifications – which can range from degrees and formal professional certifications to a portfolio of sites you have designed and developed – to convenience a prospective employer or client to hire you.

Some website developers have only a high school diploma but have cultivated extensive knowledge of computer programming independently or through non-degree courses. Teaching yourself to code isn’t easy, however. Having some formal education, like an associate degree, is still popular among website developers. Potential majors for an aspiring web developer include computer science, computer programming or web design or digital design specifically. Some students even approach the field as graphic arts majors. Whatever major you choose, you should focus on developing your knowledge of popular programming languages, including HTML, SQL and JavaScript.

Web Developers’ Salary

For web developers, the median annual salary the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for 2020 was $77,200. Website developers in some industries earn a great deal more money. In the publishing industry, excluding Internet publishing, the median annual salary was $123,870. Unfortunately, this industry accounts for less than 10% of the profession as a whole. The good news is that even the lowest paying of the top employing industries for web developers, the management, scientific and technical consulting services industry, still paid a median annual salary of $70,790.

6. Engineering Technician

Engineering refers to the use of scientific and mathematical concepts in the design of a variety of different types of solutions to real-world problems. While you need a bachelor’s degree to be an engineer, an associate degree is sufficient to become an engineering technician. Just as engineering jobs are some of the most lucrative job prospects with a four-year degree, engineering technician jobs are some of the highest paying jobs with associate’s degrees.

engineering technician

Technicians work alongside fully qualified engineers and assist them in the work needed for the design process. For example, engineering technicians might set up and run tests, examine and assemble equipment, compile data, analyze construction and design plans and draft lab reports that contain the findings of their tests.

There are many different disciplines and subdisciplines of engineering, and there are also different kinds of engineering technicians. Earning potential for engineering technicians varies according to the branch of engineering in which they work. Engineering technology professionals work closely with fully qualified engineers in their respective fields.

Aerospace Engineering Technician

Aerospace engineering is concerned with engineering vessels, systems and processes for aircraft and spacecraft. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians install instruments and equipment in aircraft and spacecraft and facilitate tests of craft and their systems and equipment. These instruments and equipment systems are developed by aerospace engineers.

Electrical Engineering Technician

Electrical engineering technology has to do with electrical and electronic equipment and systems of all kinds, from computers to medical monitoring devices. Electrical engineering technicians often build electrical components and systems, appliances and instruments and handle matters of writing product design specifications and checking for quality control.

Electronics engineering technicians focus on the work needed to support the design of electronic units, equipment and components. For example, an electronics engineering technician might assemble electronic circuitry, use machine and power tools to create the components of electronic equipment and build prototypes.

Mechanical Engineering Technician

Mechanical engineers apply the principles of engineering design to any machine, process or system that moves. Similarly, mechanical engineering technician is a broad occupation in which the technician may work on projects that range from engines to tools and medical devices. Mechanical engineering technicians run tests, create computer-designed drawings of parts and their assembly process and assemble mechanical components.

There are also electro-mechanical engineering technicians who bring to their work a combination of knowledge of both mechanical and electrical technologies.

Industrial Engineering Technician

Industrial engineers focus on the efficiency of production processes. Industrial engineering technicians support these efforts by gathering data, recommending changes that could improve efficiency and creating charts, diagrams and other materials to plan and illustrate layouts and processes.

Civil Engineering Technician

Civil engineering technicians play important roles in the design of infrastructure of all kinds. Civil engineers are responsible for developing everything from roads and bridges to airports and water treatment facilities. Civil engineering technicians may handle job duties like conducting field surveys, using computer-aided design software to create project plans and drawings and testing construction materials.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Environmental engineers apply engineering principles to the design of environmental solutions. Environmental engineering technicians support these efforts in a variety of ways. Some of the job duties environmental engineering technicians may perform include collecting samples of environmental specimens in the field and preparing and operating field equipment to support the work of environmental engineers.

Technicians in other areas also assist engineers in their work. For example, geological and petroleum engineers may rely on the assistance of geological and petroleum technicians, who help install equipment and gather and test samples of natural resources for the purpose of identifying deposits of natural gas.

It’s important for prospective engineering technicians to choose a major that fits their specific area of career interest. For example, you might major in civil engineering technology if you want to assist with the design and construction of roads and bridges or in environmental engineering technology if you want to apply your work to the solutions of environmental problems.

Engineering Technicians’ Salary

Earning potential for engineering technicians depends on the discipline of engineering technology in which you work. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians earn the most money, with a median annual salary of $73,580 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians have the next highest earning potential, with a median annual salary of $63,640.

Engineering technicians and technologists in three disciplines earn median salaries right around the $60,000 mark. The median annual salary for mechanical engineering technicians and technologists was $60,460, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a $60,360 electro-mechanical technician salary and a $60,220 industrial engineering technician salary.

For civil engineering technicians, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $58,320. The lowest paying of the major disciplines that employ engineering technicians and technologists is environmental engineering, for which the median annual salary in 2021 was just $48,390. For geological and petroleum technicians, who the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually classifies as part of the life and natural sciences occupational group rather than the engineering occupation, the median annual salary was $48,390.

7. Avionics Technician

One of the best associate degree jobs revolves around the maintenance and repair of aircraft. An avionics technician is a maintenance and repair professional who addresses the specific needs of airplanes, helicopters and other types of aircraft and their parts – including engines, electrical systems, and hydraulic systems. An avionics technician may be a generalist, performing maintenance and repairs on all types of aircraft and all systems, or a specialist who focuses on one type of aircraft or system within a craft.

avionics technician

Some of the responsibilities of an avionics technician include repairing or replacing parts and components when they malfunction or when they are due for regularly scheduled maintenance under the regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. It’s important that avionics technicians maintain detailed and accurate records of all maintenance and repair work they perform on an aircraft.

Avionics technicians perform work that includes installing instrument panels and putting together electrical control components. To check for and diagnose problems in aircraft, avionics technicians perform tests of a plane’s electronic instruments and analyze flight test data. An avionics technician must be comfortable working with various kinds of installation tools. Installing and running computer software is part of the job, but so is using hand tools and power tools to install instrument panels and applying voltmeters and circuit testers to check the function and performance of a craft’s electronic instruments.

An associate’s degree is the most common entry-level education for avionics technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You should look for a specialized degree if you want to work in this field. For example, you might major in aircraft electronics, aviation maintenance, avionics technology or electronic engineering technology with a specialization in avionics.

Avionics Technician Salary

The median yearly salary the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for avionics technicians as of 2021 was $69,280. The highest paying industry for avionics technicians, the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry, paid a median yearly salary of $78,700, while the median salary for the lowest paying of the top employing industries, support activities for the air transportation industry, reported a median wage of $60,460.

8. Computer Network Support Specialist

You want to work in the computer field, but you want to do more than just provide tech support to users who aren’t so tech-savvy. A career as a computer network specialist may be the right fit. In this computer support role that is one of the highest-paying associate degree jobs, your focus isn’t on the technical issues that individual users encounter but rather on the maintenance and performance of entire computer networks.

Your work in computer network support encompasses everything from undertaking regular maintenance tasks that keep computer networks running to testing and troubleshooting network problems when they arise.

Computer network support specialist

The best associate degrees for working in a computer network support specialist role include computer science, information technology (IT), information security, computer networking systems and system administration. However, since this career isn’t one that requires a license or a particular major, you may qualify for this role if you have taken a few computer courses in these areas, even if you majored in another field of study.

Computer Support Specialists’ Salary

For computer network support specialists, the median wage as of 2021 was $62,760, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The telecommunications industry, which accounted for 12% of the computer support specialists profession, paid the highest median annual salary, $76,910. The computer systems design and related services industry, which is the single largest employment industry for the role and makes up 20% of jobs in this occupation, paid the lowest median annual salary of all top employing industries, at $61,390.

9. Physical or Occupational Therapy Assistant

Another high-paying career in health care with an associate’s degree is physical or occupational therapy assistant. In either of these roles, you would do the fulfilling work of helping to rehabilitate patients who have suffered injuries or illnesses.

Most people have heard of physical therapy. Physical therapists provide therapeutic treatment of injury to restore function and mobility using exercise and other physical methods of intervention instead of pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Another form of rehabilitative therapy, occupational therapy, is somewhat less well-known but is just as important.

Generally, physical therapy pertains to exercises and treatments intended to improve strength and mobility and reduce pain, while occupational therapy emphasizes the skills for daily living. Since physical therapy has more to do with movement in general, this rehabilitative therapy tends to focus more on gross motor skills, or using large muscle groups. On the other hand, occupational therapists work closely with patients to develop the fine motor skills used for daily life activities like eating, bathing and dressing oneself.

physical therapy assistant

You can’t become a physical or occupational therapist with an associate’s degree, but you can get a job as a physical therapy assistant or an occupational therapy assistant. In these roles, you provide direct support to patients in their physical or occupational therapy by observing and helping them with exercises. Both physical and occupational therapy assistants use and teach patients how to use equipment, such as walkers and modified dining utensils, respectively, under the direction of licensed physical and occupational therapists.

There are specially accredited associate’s degree programs for both physical therapy assistants and occupational therapy assistants. Although these roles are related, their areas of focus and the coursework required for the distinct associate degree programs are different. Both of these careers are regulated and typically require some form of state licensure.

Physical or Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary

The median annual salary for occupational therapy assistants in 2021 was $61,730, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The 7% of occupational therapy assistants working in the home healthcare services industry had the best earning potential, with a median yearly salary of $75,070. For occupational therapy assistants in the educational services industry – approximately 5% of the profession – the median wage was only $49,920.

Among physical therapy assistants, the median wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021 was $61,180. Again, the home healthcare industry pays the best, with a median wage of $76,600 reported for this industry that employs 9% of the profession. For the 5% of physical therapy assistants who work for physicians’ offices, the median yearly salary was $58,190.

10. Legal Assistant

Legal assistants and paralegals aren’t lawyers, but they are an important part of the legal industry. If you’re not ready to commit to going to law school and taking the bar exam – and you don’t love the idea of making arguments in a courtroom – this paraprofessional career may give you the best aspects of legal work without all the obligations.

paralegal

Paralegals and legal assistants work under the guidance of licensed attorneys to investigate cases, conduct research, compile files of evidence and draft and file legal documents. Generally, these legal professionals aren’t authorized to give legal advice in the formal capacity that an attorney is, but they also aren’t required to be licensed.

An associate’s degree in legal studies typically covers the foundations of legal writing and conducting research, as well as ethics in the legal industry and the practice and procedures in civil and criminal areas of law.

Salary for Legal Assistants

The median annual salary for legal assistants and paralegals in 2021 was $56,230, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The best-paid legal assistants were the 5% of the field that worked for the federal government, for which the median annual salary was $69,680. For the legal services industry, which employed nearly three-quarters of paralegals and legal assistants, the median wage was only $48,270.

Boosting Your Earning Potential

Any of the high-paying jobs listed above offers strong earning potential, especially when they only require an associate degree. If you want to earn even more money, though, some options to consider are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, attaining formal professional qualifications and cultivating specialized and in-demand skills.

Go Back to School

Just because you started your career with only an associate degree doesn’t mean that you’re locked into this level of education for life. If you feel like you have gone as far as you can with “only” an associate’s degree, it may be time to go back to school. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help you increase your salary as well as your opportunities for career advancement.

Typically, you can transfer the credits you earned for your associate degree to the four-year college where you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree and graduate in as little as two years. An accelerated degree completion bachelor’s degree program may allow you to finish school even faster.

Pursue Professional Certification or Specialized Skills

In some professions, a professional certification is as valuable or even more valuable than a bachelor’s degree. Certification may require taking a course or an examination. Certification from a professional organization demonstrates not only your competency as established by an outside party but also your commitment to the field.

There’s no doubt that formal qualifications like a bachelor’s degree or a professional certification can help your earning potential. However, having proven skills in specialized areas – especially highly technical and relatively rare skills – can also help you earn more, even without these formal credentials. Take opportunities to develop specialized and in-demand skills, and your value in the job market will rise.

Related Resources:

Easiest Online Associate’s Degrees

50 Best Online Associate’s Degrees 2021

Will Only Having an Associate’s Degree Allow Me to Get a Nursing Job?

What Is the Demand for an Associate’s Degree in Engineering?

For Further Reading:

What Are the 5 Best Careers in Environmental Science?