It’s not uncommon to find yourself at a crossroads in your career path. Right now, you may be thinking about changing careers, or reaching for an upper-level position at your organization. You may have a high school diploma, or GED, but are wondering if it’s time to take that next step – college.
Whether you are seasoned in the workforce, or fresh out of high school, you likely understand the value of a college education. It can help job prospects, salary potential, and enhance your skillsets both on and off the field. However, like many, you may not have a ton of time to commit to college. You may want to get into the workforce and get earning fast – which is why you are considering an associate degree. The question is, will it be worth it?
Is an associate degree worth it? While this is in no way a simple answer, an associate degree is worth it for many people, particularly those who wish to advance their education without spending years in school, and who desire to work in a field that doesn’t require a four-year degree. Below, we outline the top reasons why it makes sense to pursue an associate-level education.
- It offers you a short pathway towards a college degree.
There are two common reasons people pursue an associate degree. One, because their field requires it and two, because it is a relatively short time commitment. In general, an associate degree takes about two years to complete. However, there are faster and more flexible options available. For example, at Goodwin College, many of the associate degree programs are offered in accelerated format, and can be completed in half the typical time. Goodwin also offers three academic sessions per year, allowing you to finish your associate degree even faster.
- It allows you to pursue career paths that otherwise might not be attainable.
An associate degree is the standard expectation in many industries today. For example, most often, you will be required to complete an associate degree before pursuing a career as a:
- Registered Nurse
- Dental Hygienist
- Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Respiratory Therapist
- Early Childhood Educator, such as a Head Start Teacher or Private Preschool Teacher
- Funeral Service Director
- Web Developer
Employers want to know that applicants have put some time into learning about their field. They want to know that their new hires have a good work ethic, and have developed both technical and professional skillsets, from critical-thinking, to problem-solving, and communication. An associate degree shows commitment and capability, even in fields that do not require it. That means if you are considering a career that does not require a formal college education, getting some coursework under your belt (and walking in the door with a degree) can make you stand out amongst the competition.
- It increases your earning potential, and gives leverage in the workforce.
You might be hesitant to earn an associate degree, worried that it will not be valued in today’s workforce. The truth is, many employers value the investment in a college degree program. Particularly in specialized fields like machining, technology, law enforcement, medical assisting, and respiratory care, where the job market is not saturated by advanced degree holders, an associate degree can provide you great leverage when applying for jobs.
It will also increase your earning potential. While education can be difficult to quantify, we know that the investment in a college degree translates to higher return. The Bureau of Labor Statistics proves this: In 2018, workers with a high school diploma earned a weekly salary of $730, on average. However, those with an associate degree earned $862 weekly (18 percent higher per week). While $132 may not seem like a lot per week, consider this: An associate degree can increase your pay by $6,864 per year.
Not only this, but the risk of unemployment is also much less. According to the BLS data, unemployment rates were much lower for those holding an associate degree, compared to those with a high school education or less. Specifically, the unemployment rate for high school graduates (with no college education) was over 4 percent in 2018. However, this shrinks to 2.8% for those with an associate degree in hand.
Rather than asking yourself, “Is an associate degree worth it?”, it’s important to ask whether an associate degree is right for you. Does it align with your career goals? Will it get you where you need to go? Will it allow you to apply to advanced opportunities down the road? Are there associate degree programs available that fit within your scheduling needs? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you have your answer: An associate degree is worth it for you.
To learn about the associate degree programs available at Goodwin College, please do not hesitate to call 800-889-3282. You may also explore associate degree options online here.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.