Which Associate Degrees Lead to the Best Paying Jobs?

The time and financial investment required to get a college degree can be huge which is why most students want to know how to maximize their investment and choose college majors that lead to the best paying jobs. Most people understand that the problem solving and critical thinking skills used in math and science oriented career fields are in high demand and often command top pay. Some of these career fields can even be approached with a two-year college degree. While it is important to find a career path that aligns with one’s passion, people whose passions follow the disciplines described below are likely to earn very nice salaries upon graduation from associate’s degree programs.

Associate of Applied Science in Air Traffic Control

Nearly everyone is flying the friendly skies these days, which means that there is an increased demand for skilled air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers assess flight paths of aircraft and give pilots instructions that lead to safe takeoffs, transit, and landings of private, commercial and military flights. These aviation professionals must minimally possess an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Air Traffic Control, and they can expect to take a variety of course subjects that include tower and radar communication, math, aviation regulations and aviation safety. Air traffic controllers must be effective communicators so they are often required to take many written and verbal communication courses as well. Besides the two-year degree in air traffic control, these professionals must pass the Federal Aviation Administration pre-employment exam, yearly physical exams and bi-annual job performance tests. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that air traffic controllers earned annual median salaries of $122,530 in 2012.

Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene

When people go to their scheduled dental appointments, dental hygienists are the primary professionals performing routine dental procedures. Dental hygienists educate patients about good oral hygiene, conduct oral exams and clean teeth. They work under the supervision of licensed dentists. An Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree and a successful passing score on the industry’s licensing exam are needed to become a dental hygienist. Course topics that prospective dental hygienists can expect to take include chemistry, biology and dental radiography. Dental hygiene degree candidates also have access to numerous scholarships depending upon their choice of schools. The BLS states that dental hygienists earned annual median salaries of $70,210 in 2012 and can expect job growth rates to be much faster than the average for all jobs through 2022.

Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Power Technology

The Associate of Applied Science(AAS) in Nuclear Power Technology allows graduates to assist physicists as they perform laboratory procedures and research the safe and effective use of nuclear power. Graduates can also find employment in nuclear power plants as radiation monitors and quality control agents. People who choose this major have strong math and science aptitudes, and they can expect to take course topics relating to chemistry, nuclear physics and electronics. According to the BLS, nuclear technicians earned median annual salaries of $69,060 in 2012, and job growth rates for the career are projected as faster than average for all jobs.

The exciting careers listed above provide excellent pay and potentially rewarding work, and graduates gain these benefits without spending extra time and money pursuing four-year degrees. These associate degree majors lead to some of the best paying jobs and thus offer graduates some of the greatest returns on their educational investments.

For more information on associate’s degrees, please see: Cheapest Online Colleges for Associates Degrees .