5 Highest Paying Jobs with an Associate’s Degree

Not everyone can afford to spend four years in college and if you are one of those people, you should look at some of the highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree. These degrees provide you with a strong educational background and the skills you need on the job. While you may need to go through some on the job training too, many of these positions let you start working as soon as you graduate.

Registered Nurse

One of the highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree is that of a registered nurse. RN programs require that you spend up to three years in college. While you must take some introductory classes on biology and human anatomy, you’ll also learn about infectious diseases, disease prevention and medical treatments. These programs also require that you do clinical rotations in local medical facilities. This gives you the chance to work with actual patients and develop a good bedside manner before you take on your first full-time nursing job.

Police Officer

Though you might think that police officers do not have college degrees, many detectives working in precincts have an associate’s degree. Community colleges across the country offer police science and law enforcement programs that teach students the laws that officers must follow. Some police departments will even accept an associate’s degree in lieu of a certificate from the police academy. Even if your police department requires that you attend the academy, a degree can help you move up through the ranks faster and may help you pass the detective exam.


Becoming a lawyer can take seven years or more, including four years in college and three years in law school. One of the highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree that appeals to those with an interest in the legal field is paralegal. Paralegals assist lawyers in every step of the legal process. They can attend client meetings, do research in law libraries and even sit in on cases that go before a judge. While paralegals do not make as much money as lawyers do, they are an integral part of the legal profession.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists work closely with dentists and orthodontists to improve the condition and look of patients’ mouths. They do preliminary exams to look for signs of gum disease and oral health problems and offer treatments for those conditions. You can start your career in this field after completing an associate’s degree program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists make a median salary of more than $34 an hour or more than $72,000 a year. You can work in a public health clinic, your own office or in a dental office.

Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controller is another one of the highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree. These men and women work in airports and are responsible for the safety of each vehicle that takes off or lands at that airport. They keep an eye out for any potential problems that might lead to crashes, maintain close contact with the pilots flying those vehicles and notify ground control of any issues they spot. While you can make quite a bit of money as an air traffic controller, keep in mind that the job is extremely stressful.

Though many people will tell you that you must go to college to land a high paying job, you can make more money than you may have imagined after completing an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s degree. Some of the highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree include air traffic controllers, paralegals, registered nurses, dental hygienists and police officers.

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