Six Top Jobs That You Can Get With An Associate Degree


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Wednesday, June 26, 2024
Businessman climbing up stairs made of books toward graduate's cap and college degree at the top

Having a four-year degree can open a lot of doors for you in a job hunt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a rewarding and in-demand career with a two-year degree. There are many fields where having an associate degree is all you need to get started as a professional. If you’re looking for career opportunities that your associate can unlock, take a look at some of these top professions.


Want to get involved in the legal system? You don’t need to go to law school to make a difference! Paralegals play a vital role in legal matters. Paralegals help attorneys by interviewing clients and witnesses, performing critical research, and preparing legal documents. A two-year degree in Rio Salado’s Paralegal Studies program can get you started on this rewarding career path.

On average there are around 38,000 openings projected per year for paralegals and legal assistants. The median annual wage for paralegals is around $60,970. Paralegals are an evergreen profession: so long as there are lawyers, there will be paralegals around to help them carry out the task of upholding the law.

Law Enforcement

Another profession that remains perennial is the field of law enforcement. There is a steady demand for police officers across the country; BLS reports a projected 3% increase in job opportunities for police officers between now and 2031. While the salary for police officers isn’t necessarily high, they do offer significant health and retirement benefits.

Rio Salado College offers an Administration of Justice degree program that provides students with a grounding in criminal justice, law enforcement training, public safety, and forensics science. Rio Salado also offers certificate programs for corrections and detention, homeland security, firearms, victimology, and juvenile corrections. A degree isn’t necessary to work in law enforcement but having one can make you eligible for higher-paying positions and opportunities.

Computer Programmer

A solid grounding in computer science and coding can open doors for you on the job market. With automation on the rise, there’s lots of opportunities for people who are interested in learning about how to do prompt engineering and work with LLMs. The demand for computer programmers with specific skill sets is strong, and computer programmers with knowledge of A.I. and LLMS will have an advantage over their more generalized peers.

Interested in getting into computer science? Rio Salado College offers a degree program in Computer Science. Learn about programming languages, computing environments, algorithmic principles, software systems, and computer science theory while building up a professional skill set that could make you career-ready by graduation.


Nursing jobs are highly in demand. The BLS projects a 6% increase in job opportunities for nurses over the next decade. The median annual wage for nurses is $86,070. Eight of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges offer Nursing programs. While Rio Salado College doesn't offer the Maricopa Nursing program, we do offer Nursing Prerequisites. Completing these courses (written and taught by masters-and-doctoral-level healthcare professionals) will prepare you for completing a nursing program elsewhere. You can also get started in the healthcare profession with an associate degree from Rio! 

Dietary Technician

Another healthcare-related field with growing job opportunities is in nutrition. Dietary technicians (also known as dietary aides) are highly sought-after, with a 7% projected increase in job opportunities over the rest of the decade. Dietary aides work alongside dieticians to help come up with meal plans, set goals with clients, and provide education and resources to the community about making healthy choices. Rio Salado College offers a Nutrition and Dietetics degree program that can give you enough grounding in this growing field to help you take the next step forward toward a fulfilling career.

Dental Hygienists

If you’re looking for an in-demand job that pays well that you can get your foot in the door with a two-year degree, becoming a dental hygienist may be right up your alley. Dental hygienists can be found at dentist offices, hospitals, and even nursing homes. Hygienists work to help improve the oral health of their community by performing cleanings, applying fluorides and sealants, and taking dental X-rays. Dental hygienists often do community outreach work, sharing best practices on how to keep mouths healthy and clean.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field will grow 9% by 2031, meaning that there are many open positions out there that need to be filled. Interested in learning more? Rio Salado College has a dental clinic and dental hygiene program that can get you on the road to professional wellness.

Article by Austin Brietta


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