Three $50,000-a-Year Career Fields That Require Only an Associate Degree

Yes, you have your Post 9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill that will pay up to four years of college, but let’s face it, not everyone wants to spend that much time in school before getting out into the working world. What if I showed you three great healthcare fields with median yearly salaries of $46,000 or more that only require just two years of schooling. Would you be interested?

While often overlooked, an associate degree can be a very practical approach to pursuing your career goals in half the time it takes to get a bachelor’s degree. Read on for three recommendations that besides paying well, have great earning potential and above average expected growth for at least the next seven years.

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for evidence of oral diseases, take X-rays and provide other preventative dental care.


1. Radiology Technician

Duties: Duties include performing medical diagnostic tests like MRI scans, X-rays and mammograms.

Work Environment: The work ranges in medical settings ranging from hospitals, to clinics, to private radiology centers. You will be required to pass a radiology licensing exam in the state where you intend to work before you can start working.

Median Salary: $46,210

Employment Change: 89,950 jobs

Expected Growth: 28%.


2. Dental Hygienist

Duties: Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for evidence of oral diseases, take X-rays and provide other preventative dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

Work Environment: Most dental hygienists work closely with other dental staff in a dentist office settings.  While every state requires dental hygienists licensing, the exact requirements vary by state.

Median salary: $68,250

Employment Change: 68,500 jobs

Expected Growth: 38%


3. Registered Nurse

Duties: In addition to providing patient care, Registered Nurses (RNs) educate patients, family members and the public alike on various health-related issues.

Work Environment: With an associate’s degree in nursing, you could work in a hospital, clinic or home healthcare setting to name a few. RNs must also become licensed by passing a national licensing examination.

Median salary: $64,690

Employment Change: 959,650 jobs

Expected Growth: 26%

With salaries over $46,000 per year, you could earn as much, if not more than, many bachelor degree graduates in other fields. As the baby-boomer population continues to grow, the demand for more healthcare professionals will continue to increase also.

If you are looking for a career in the medical field, but you don’t want to go to school for four years, then you might want to consider one of these great careers that only require two years of schooling.

Photo courtesy Army Medicine

2 thoughts on “Three $50,000-a-Year Career Fields That Require Only an Associate Degree”

  1. Years I served 91-94, what can I do if I used only a fraction of it. It expired and then one of my friends said, I can send papers in for assistance. What about criminal justice classes?

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