The Most Versatile Associate Degrees For Students Who Want to Enter the Workforce

Published on: April 28, 2024

A degree can open many career paths, but not everyone has the time and money to commit to a four-year program. Online degrees have made education more accessible, particularly for students with time and financial constraints. However, an associate degree offers a versatile and efficient route towards entry-level positions for many professions. Associate degrees, typically taking two years to complete, are designed with employment in mind. Moreover, they often serve as a stepping stone towards a bachelor's degree, allowing students to explore a wide range of career paths. A variety of associate degrees are available in both online and offline formats, offering versatility and affordability for students eager to embark on their career journeys. 

Associate of Arts (AA) / Associate of Science (AS)

Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) degrees are the most common options for students who want a broad educational background, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to adapt to various career paths. These degrees cover subjects such as mathematics, humanities, and sciences, providing a solid foundation for a wide range of careers. Associate of Arts degrees are associated with careers in humanities, such as sales and advertising. In contrast, Associate of Science degrees focus on math and science, making them suitable for careers in computer science, etc. 

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Looking for a more career-focused degree? An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree could be your answer. This two-year program is specifically designed to provide the practical skills and knowledge needed to excel in your chosen career path. With fewer general education classes, you'll be reassured about the relevance and practicality of your education. Examples of AAS degrees include accounting, child care management, and computer information systems. 

Associate of Business Administration (ABA)

An Associate of Business Administration (ABA), also sometimes referred to as an Associate of Arts in Business Administration (AABA) or Associate of Science in Business Administration (ASBA), is a degree that teaches students the guiding principles of the business world. This degree is versatile enough for a variety of entry-level positions in business-related fields ranging from marketing and finance to human resources and management. 

Associate of Engineering (AE)

Associate of Engineering (AE) degrees are typically aimed at students who want to transfer to 4-year colleges or universities to earn their major in engineering. Still, they can also lead to entry-level careers in the field. Different course plans may also be available depending on what type of major students are interested in transferring to. These include pathways for Civil Engineering, Computer & Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Systems Engineering. 

Associate of Applied Technology (AAT)

An Associate of Applied Technology (AAT) degree is aimed at students who want to work in trade professions or enhance their existing skills in these professions. Common career fields include surgical technology, culinary arts, carpentry, agriculture, automatives, and more. This type of degree aims to help students develop their workforce-ready skills and advance their careers in real trades. 

Associate of Health Science (AHS)

Associate of Health Science (AHS) degrees are aimed at students who are interested in entry-level positions in the healthcare industry. This degree can also be a stepping stone for continuing their education in a related field. The focus of this degree is healthcare knowledge, but students also get to hone their critical thinking and communication skills. Potential career options include healthcare administrators, medical assistants, and medical billing and coding specialists. 

Associate of Criminal Justice (ACJ)

An Associate of Criminal Justice (ACJ) degree can benefit students interested in the criminal justice system. In addition to general education courses, this degree provides core criminal justice knowledge and teaches students about the criminal justice system in America. It covers topics such as criminal law and the court systems and can serve as a pathway to various entry-level positions in law enforcement, corrections, and related fields. In addition, this type of degree can transfer into a four-year degree program, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. 

Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)

An Associate of Applied Arts (AA) degree focuses on performing or visual arts. These degrees tend to combine general education courses with humanities and social science for specializations in areas such as fine arts, advertising art, music, product design, and urban design. Typically, Associate of Applied Arts degrees aim to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately instead of transferring to a larger university.  


Associate degrees can provide students with a practical and solid start in many career fields, serving as a crucial stepping stone for many. After completing an associate degree, students can confidently enter the workforce, continue their educational journey by earning a bachelor's degree, or enhance their knowledge with relevant certification programs. While Bachelor's and Master's degrees can lead to higher-paying and more competitive jobs, Associate degrees still offer a wealth of benefits to those who are just starting in their careers, providing a practical and viable option for career advancement. In addition to the degrees mentioned above, there are plenty of other options in fields such as culinary arts, communication, environmental science, and more.

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