Associate Degree Jobs That Pay Well
Looking to make big money with a two-year degree? Check out these careers where your associate degree can help you earn as much as six figures.
Think you need at least a bachelor’s degree to land a high-paying job that you can turn into a rewarding career? Think again. Associate degree jobs are just as—and in some cases, even more—valuable. With just a few years of education (the typical associate degree is two), you can find yourself well-equipped to make a higher-than-average salary doing something you love.
Using data from Monster and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we identified the top 10 highest-paying jobs that require an associate degree. Most of these jobs fall in the health care and tech sectors—two industries that are seeing incredible job growth right now.
And the pay is pretty great, too.
Salaries largely depend on your level of experience, specialty, and where in the country you're employed. For example, a dental hygienist salary in Huntington Beach, California, is 9% higher than the national median; a radiation therapist salary in St. Paul, Minnesota, is 3% lower than the national median; and a web developer salary in Trenton, New Jersey, is 4% higher than the national median.
Take a look at the full list below—ranked by salary—for the best associate degrees to pursue and the jobs that you can get with them.
Associate Degree Jobs That Pay Well
1. Air Traffic Controller
What you’d do: Air traffic controllers (ATCs) survey the sky—from airport control towers and routing centers—ensuring that planes are able to take off and land safely. As an ATC, you’ll be responsible for communicating with pilots about things like weather conditions and runway statuses. All clear!
What you’d need: Along with an associate degree and mandated training from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) academy, air traffic controllers need to pass medical and background checks.
What you’d make: The median salary for an air traffic controller is $56,960 per year.
Find air traffic controller jobs on Monster.
2. Radiation Therapist
What you’d do: Often part of an oncology team, radiation therapists administer radiation treatments to cancer patients. Depending on their specialty, they might also perform X-rays, MRIs, sonograms, and other imaging techniques.
What you’d need: Radiation therapists can obtain an associate degree and license from one of the programs in the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Check out this sample resume for a radiologic technician.
What you’d make: The median salary for a radiation therapist is $75,390 per year.
Find radiation therapist jobs on Monster.
3. Nuclear Technician
What you’d do: Nuclear technicians keep power plants safe by educating their co-workers (such as nuclear physicists) and overseeing equipment maintenance (such as nuclear cooling towers). They also perform tests to monitor radiation and make sure site workers are following standard safety procedures.
What you’d need: An associate degree in a related field like nuclear science is required.
What you’d make: $84,190 per year, according to the BLS
Find nuclear technician jobs on Monster.
4. Nuclear Medicine Technologist
What you’d do: Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals (drugs that give off radiation) to help physicians diagnose patients. They care for patients by explaining what the drugs are doing, operating imaging technology, and always following strict safety procedures.
What you’d need: An associate degree in nuclear medicine from one of the programs the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology accredits is required.
What you’d make: The median salary for a nuclear medicine technologist is $32 per hour.
Find nuclear medicine technologist jobs on Monster.
5. Dental Hygienist
What you’d do: If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you probably have a good idea what dental hygienists do: Working alongside dentists, they help patients maintain healthy mouths. This includes things like cleaning teeth and administering preventative procedures like X-rays and fluoride treatments.
What you’d need: Dental hygienists must obtain an associate degree in dental hygiene. Check out this resume sample for a dental hygienist and sample cover letter for a dental hygienist.
What you’d make: The median salary for a dental hygienist is $34.50 per hour.
Find dental hygienist jobs on Monster.
6. Web Developer
What you’d do: To put it simply, web developers design and create websites. Their responsibilities are twofold: the look of the site and the site’s technical aspects, including performance (website speed) and capacity (how much traffic the site can handle). Sometimes, web developers even create content for the site.
What you’d need: An associate degree in web design is most common. Check out this sample resume and cover letter for a web developer. You can also learn all about how to become a web developer.
What you’d make: The median salary for a web developer is $90,785 per year.
Find web developer jobs on Monster.
7. Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician
What you’d do: Aerospace engineers and operations technicians are responsible for controlling and preserving the equipment used to maintain planes and other aircraft. They collect data and perform tests on aircraft to make sure they are safe to fly.
What you’d need: Associate degrees in engineering tech and robotics are common.
What you’d make: The median salary for an aerospace engineer is $95,581 per year.
Find aerospace engineering and operations technician jobs on Monster.
8. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
What you’d do: Diagnostic medical sonographers operate imaging technology on patients in order to produce images (sonograms or ultrasounds) to help physicians diagnose diseases.
What you’d need: An associate degree in cardiovascular or vascular technology is required. Employers typically prefer to hire applicants who are certified in sonography (accreditation can be obtained through organizations like the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists).
What you’d make: The median salary for an ultrasound technologist/sonographer is $32.31 per hour.
Find diagnostic medical sonographer jobs on Monster.
9. Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technician
What you’d do: Electrical and electronics engineering technicians assist engineers in designing and developing all types of equipment—communications, navigational, medical monitoring—and computers. They often work in product evaluation and testing, where they adjust, test, and repair equipment. Additionally, workers are involved in the manufacture and deployment of the equipment.
What you’d need: An associate degree in electrical or electronics engineering technology is standard.
What you’d make: The median salary for an electrical engineering technician is $47,509 per year.
Find electrical and electronics engineering technician jobs on Monster.
10. Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
What you’d do: Anyone who has a fear of flying can be thankful for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians. It’s their duty to make sure aircraft are up to snuff by repairing and performing scheduled maintenance. Ready for takeoff!
What you’d need: In addition to an associate degree that focuses on aviation flight instruments and computer repair, you’ll need to get certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
What you’d make: The median salary for an avionics technician is $24.70 per hour.
Find aircraft and avionics equipment mechanic and technician jobs on Monster.
Find Awesome Associate Degree Jobs on Monster
We know it can be a hustle to find a job that doesn't require four years of college. But you can find high-paying jobs with an associates degree to take you plenty far in your career, as this list proves. Could you use some help finding the right job for you? Set up a Monster profile for free today. We'll send you job alerts and connect you with some of the top recruiters. Don't let your talents go overlooked.