With the average cost of a four year degree costing upwards of $38,000, more students are looking into careers that require an associate degree. Not all programs will prepare candidates for the necessary certification and licensing requirements so carefully researching whether the program is accredited is essential. Here is a list of the top 11 jobs you can land with an associate degree.
Dental Hygienists work closely with dentists and perform a number of tasks including cleaning teeth, applying sealants and flouride as well as educating patients about proper oral hygiene.
An associate degree is required to become a dental hygienist and most programs take about two years to complete. Nearly all states require dental hygienist candidates to graduate from an accredited program and take both written and clinical exams for certification.
2. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer $27/hour
Diagnostic medical sonographers perform sonograms and provide physicians with written advice on findings.
There are two and four year programs at many colleges and while there are currently no state requirements, several organizations do offer credentialing programs.
3. Respiratory Therapist $23/hour
Respiratory Therapists work with doctors and nurses to diagnose and treat patients with respiratory disorders. They use equipment such as CPAP and BiPAP machines, ventilators, and oxygen concentrators to treat both adult and child patients.
A two year associate degree in respiratory therapy is required and a license is required to practice in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.
4. Radiology Technician $23/hour
Radiology technicians administer contrast dyes into patients bloodstreams for certain diagnostic testing purposes, take x-ray images, and manage equipment and patient records.
A two year associate degree is required however, currently there are no requirements for a license.
5. Occupational Therapy Assistant $20/hour
Occupational therapy assistants work under the direct supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist to provide services to individuals that have been injured and have lost the use of their limbs. They also provide therapy to re-teach daily living skills for patients that have recently been hospitalized.
A two year associate degree from an accredited program is required to become a Occupational Therapy Assistant. In addition to college coursework, candidates must also complete a 16 hour supervised fieldwork experience in a clinical setting.
6. Physical Therapist Assistant $20/hour
Physical therapist assistants work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist and help create treatment plans, document patient progress, and assist patients during therapy sessions. Physical therapy assistants help patients to alleviate chronic pain and regain lost mobility.
A two year associate degree from an accredited program is required to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. Candidates must also complete a period of clinical experience in order to be qualified for employment.
7. Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician $20/hour
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians work with physicians to diagnose and treat cardiac and pulmonary diseases. They schedule appointments, perform ultrasound and other cardiovascular tests, monitor patients heart rates, and review doctor's notes and patient files.
Most cardiovascular technologists complete a 2 year associate degree program however, not all states require certification.
8. Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse $18/hour
Licensed practical LPN/vocational LVN nurses care for patients under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or physician. They provide basic care for patients, dress wounds and give injections, and record vital signs.
Most LPN/LVN programs are one year in length and candidates must pass an exam to earn their license to practice.
9. Surgical Technologist $17/hour
Surgical technologists assist during surgical procedures under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or surgeon. Surgical technologists help to transport patients, preparing the patient and operating room for surgery, as well as other duties.
Training programs last from 9 to 24 months and include a clinical experience. While certification is not necessary, employers prefer to hire licensed surgical technicians.
10. Massage Therapist $16/hour
Massage therapists treat patients with painful injuries, and provide therapy due to stress. Popular areas of specialization include: swedish, aromatherapy, deep tissue, hot stone, acupressure, shiatsu, thai, and pregnancy.
Graduation from an accredited program is required in order to practice and while a license is not necessary to practice it is recommended.
11. Blood Collection Technician/Phlebotomist $16/hour
Blood collection technicians or phlebotomists, collect blood samples for testing or donation. They work alongside clinical laboratory technologists and other medical personnel. Blood collection technicians use a variety of collection techniques and equipment such as last draw and additive tubes, and capillary blood tubes collect samples.
Completion of an accredited training program consisting of coursework and clinical experience is required for employment. While not required, employers prefer candidates that are certified.