Earning Your Associate Degree Online

Earning an accredited online associate degree provides greater economic opportunities. According to Georgetown’s Center of Education and the Workforce, about 30% of the 55 million job openings between 2013 and 2020 will require an associate degree. Employers increasingly look for workers with strong critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills, which learners can develop through the best online two-year programs in the country.

Anyone looking to expand their skills and receive training in a specific career can benefit from an online associate degree. Below, prospective students can find more information about finding the right online two-year degree and potential careers for graduates.

Why Earn an Online Associate Degree?

Those pursuing accredited online associate degrees come from many different backgrounds. They may include current high school students and working adults who may or may not hold a high school diploma or GED. Students may be seeking a degree for the first time or may be going back to school to earn additional credentials. Regardless of the situation, affordable online programs can deliver the opportunities learners need to reach their academic and career goals.

What’s the Difference Between Degrees?

As you look to further your education, you may consider a diploma, certificate, or associate program. Below, learners can find more information about each option and the opportunities they offer.

Diploma Programs Certificate Programs Associate Programs
What types of institutions award these? Technical and vocational schools, community colleges, and healthcare organizations Technical and vocational schools or community colleges Community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities
How long does it take? 1 year 1-2 years 2 years
What is the goal, as opposed to other degree options? To qualify for specific jobs, such as electrician, automotive repair, or gunsmithing. To gain skills in a technical occupation such as HVAC repair or medical assistance. To seek basic training in a general field or to meet general education requirements before transferring into a bachelor’s program.
Who would it makes sense for? Individuals hoping to move into specific vocations that require a diploma. Those who wish to enter a specific career that requires certification or licensure. Those looking for education related to a specific field or those who plan to seek a four-year degree.
Any caveats to consider? These programs focus only on skills for a specific job; students typically do not receive a well-rounded educational experience. These programs work best for those who want only the education or training necessary for one specific field. Courses tend to be more general in nature compared to the specific focus of a certificate or diploma program.

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Online Associate Degrees that Pay Well

Students do not need to attend school for long to get a degree that qualifies them for high-paying jobs with growth potential. Equipped with an associate degree, you can develop websites, help doctors or dentists serve patients, or assist people in reaching their fitness goals. These jobs represent terrific options if you want to embark on a fulfilling career, but do not want to spend four years or more attending school. Read more about these careers and the opportunities they provide by visiting the page below.

Hot Careers Requiring a 2-year Degree or Less

Career Match: The Best Associate Degree For Your Needs

When you complete an online associate degree, certificate, or diploma, you can embark on many different careers that pay well and offer considerable growth potential. However, the variety of options can make it difficult to choose the right path. Below, learners can find several programs tailored to their interests, goals, and preferences. Whether you seek flexibility, want to work with children or animals, or consider yourself an introvert, you can pursue an option that fits you.

Online Associate Degrees with Guaranteed Jobs

The U.S. Department of Labor offers several job training programs for laid-off workers, including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Dislocated Worker/Rapid Response program. Those who lose their job can use an online associate degree, diploma, or certificate to help them qualify for a new one, and these programs may provide the financial support to further your education.

A two-year degree also helps you meet the increasing demand for skilled workers in fields that generally do not require a bachelor’s degree. These jobs span a variety of industries, including construction, hospitality, information technology, public safety, and automotive service.

Explore Vocational & Trade Schools

Online Associate Degrees for Jobs with Flexible Hours

Many of today’s jobs — including those that only require a traditional or online two-year degree — feature flexible working hours that buck the conventional nine-to-five format. For example, web designers and developers, software engineers, personal trainers, and dietitians often set their own hours, meeting with clients and working on projects when they feel most productive.

If you feel you work better very early in the morning or late at night, these jobs could fit your preferences and lifestyle. While few careers give you 100% flexibility in terms of where, when, and how you work, look for those that provide more freedom rather than less.

Online Associate Degrees for Working Outside

Getting an online associate degree, diploma, or certificate means you can seek careers that allow you to work outside. For example, you can become a firefighter, construction supervisor, or landscape architect by getting an affordable online two-year degree. These jobs, and many others, allow you to spend considerable time outdoors — and you may even get to set your own hours.

Learn More About Careers Working Outdoors

Online Associate Degrees for Working from Home

Thanks to technology, an increasing number of jobs allow people to work from home. Equipped with a degree from an accredited online program, you can serve as a virtual assistant, copywriter, customer service representative, tutor, or web designer. While working from home comes with some challenges, it also offers great freedom and flexibility for those who can stay organized and disciplined.

Online Associate Degrees for Working with Animals

If you love animals, a top online associate degree can put you on the path to becoming a veterinary technologist, veterinary assistant, or animal care service professional. These jobs involve taking care of and serving the medical needs of a variety of animals, usually in a veterinary office or animal hospital.

Learn More About Careers Working with Animals

Online Associate Degrees for Working with Children

With an affordable online associate degree, you can start a career focused on helping children learn and grow. Some of the most in-demand jobs include early childhood teaching assistants, daycare supervisors, recreation workers, and social services caseworkers. Seeking an online two-year degree provides you with greater career opportunities in these growing fields.

Explore Careers Working with Children & Families

Online Associate Degrees for Nonprofit Work

A career in the nonprofit world allows you to positively impact the lives of people and society. With an online two-year degree, you can work in many different roles, serving people directly or providing administrative assistance to support an organization. Many find that an associate degree bolsters their ability to provide more meaningful help.

Learn More About Non-Profit Careers

Online Associate Degrees for Introverts

Not everyone loves being around people all the time. If you see yourself as an introvert, you may seek careers that allow you to work more independently. Some ideal jobs include electrician, plumber, mechanic, animal trainer, and graphic designer. Other good options include technical writing, proofreading, and web development or design.

You can move into any of these careers once you earn an online associate degree, certificate, or diploma through a two-year program.

How to Earn an Associate Degree Online

Learners can take many paths to earn an affordable online associate degree from an accredited college or university. Whether you need to attend part time, complete your online program as quickly as possible, or start in high school, you can find an option that meets your needs. The list below includes information about the options available to those pursuing a degree from an online school.

  • Without a High School Diploma:

    Most online colleges and universities require a high school diploma or GED. However, other schools admit those without a diploma or GED if they are at least 18 years old and score sufficiently on placement exams. Learners may need to submit their ACT or SAT scores — and take and pass remedial courses — before starting an online associate program. Those without a GED or diploma enjoy the same access to financial aid as other students, per the federal Ability to Benefit provision.

  • Dual-Track Programs:

    Current high school students can take dual-credit classes through online colleges, setting them on their way to an online associate degree by the time they get their high school diploma. Students typically take college-level courses in 11th and 12th grade. Those interested in this path should speak with a high school guidance counselor who can offer information on available options. Many students enrolled in dual-track programs can earn an online associate degree in as little as one or two additional terms after graduating high school.

  • Accelerated Programs:

    Online programs offering accelerated degrees tend to list higher admission standards than traditional programs. These programs sometimes ask applicants to take placement exams, provide professional references, or demonstrate job experience. Once enrolled, students take multiple classes at a time, often within shortened course terms. Many accelerated online associate degrees allow students to graduate in 12 months, compared to the typical two years of a conventional program.

  • Part-Time Programs:

    Taking classes part time may be a good option if you work full time or need to meet multiple personal obligations. The best online associate programs offer part-time options, typically allowing you to complete your degree in three to five years. The length depends largely on how many courses you take each term and whether you need to take time off.

Scholarships & Grants for Online Associate Students

You can reduce the cost of your affordable online associate degree even further through scholarship opportunities available for two-year students. See the list below for some examples.

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

Amount Awarded: $20,000

Deadline: October

Eligibility & Requirements: Applicants must be U.S. high school students, including home-schooled learners, who will receive their diploma in the current school year and plan to attend college. Students must submit high school transcripts and information regarding their student involvement, honors and awards received, and employment.

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship

Amount Awarded: Varies

Deadline: March

Eligibility & Requirements: This scholarship assists low-income women age 35 or older who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Candidates must pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree and enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution. The application asks students to provide statements regarding their goals.

AAWCC National Board Scholarship

Amount Awarded: $500

Deadline: February

Eligibility & Requirements: The American Association for Women in Community Colleges offers this scholarship to women seeking a degree at a community college in the U.S. Applicants must attend an accredited institution and provide evidence of academic achievement.

Learn.org Associate’s Degree Scholarship

Amount Awarded: $500

Deadline: April

Eligibility & Requirements: Available to any student pursuing an online associate degree, the program requires applicants to provide evidence of academic success, extracurricular involvement, and a solid employment history. Only full-time students can receive the scholarship award.

University of the Aftermarket Foundation Scholarship

Amount Awarded: $1,000

Deadline: March

Eligibility & Requirements: This scholarship goes to full-time students pursuing a two-year or four-year degree in the automotive field. Students must submit their high school and/or college transcripts.

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