How much can an associate degree increase your salary?

Getting a college degree is not easy, but it can be well worth the time and effort. Earning an associate degree can help you qualify for better jobs, earn more promotions within your current career, and even open up career options that were never available to you before.

This article discusses the many possible benefits of earning an associate degree. We’ll take a look at how much an associate degree can increase your salary, explore some of the different ways you can finance your education, and share tips on choosing the right school for your degree program.

If you are thinking about going back to school to earn your associate degree, read on!

Benefits of earning an associate degree

People often associate salary increases with a four-year bachelor’s degree. However, people who earn an associate degree can expect to see some benefits when it comes to their wages, too. And those increased earnings are likely to accumulate over time: Starting out with a higher salary (or boosting your wages in the middle of your career with a postsecondary degree) can help you make exponentially more over the course of your lifetime.

An associate degree can be an important milestone on the way to a successful career. It can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in the workforce, without requiring the four-year commitment of a bachelor’s degree before you can enter the field of your choice. With an associate degree, you can improve your earning potential and open up new opportunities for your future.


When you think of earning more by earning an education, you may immediately think of a typical bachelor’s degree. But you don’t have to spend four years in a classroom to enjoy the benefits that an education can offer your career path. In fact, 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that workers with an associate degree earn an additional $150 or more each week, on average, than workers who have only a high school diploma. That can add up to earning thousands more a year—and maybe even more over time.

The earning potential for associate degree holders can also improve based on the job opportunities available. Those with formal education may be more likely to be employed and to qualify for better positions, helping them find (and get) higher-paying jobs.

Tips for choosing a school for your associate degree

It’s clear that an associate degree can help you increase your salary and improve your career prospects. However, associate degrees can be expensive to earn and not all programs are created equal. You want to be sure you’re making a sound investment in your future by choosing the school that’s right for you.

Here are some tips for choosing a school for your associate degree:

1. Make sure the school is accredited.

Accreditation is a process by which schools are evaluated and certified as meeting certain standards. Many employers will not consider associate degree graduates from unaccredited schools, so it is important to choose a school that holds accreditation from an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Some schools also receive programmatic accreditation for certain degree programs. Be sure to ask schools you are interested in about their accreditation, or look for this information on their websites.

2. Make sure the school has programs in your career field of choice.

If you want to obtain an associate degree to improve your career prospects, make sure the school you choose has programs in your desired field. Many associate degree programs are general education degrees, which may not be relevant to the career you want to pursue. Other programs may have generally trained instructors rather than professionals who have experience in the field. Choose a program designed to help you prepare for employment.

3. Make sure you’re prepared for your school expenses.

Associate degrees can be expensive, so it is important to consider all of the associated costs before making a decision. Tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other education expenses can add up quickly. You may also need to factor in other costs of being in school. Consider taking time off work, extra childcare expenses, a longer commute, or other costs incurred while completing your degree. Make sure you have a good idea of what the total cost will be—and how you’ll pay for it—before choosing a school.

Taking the next step to your associate degree

Are you ready to get started? If you want to invest in your own future career with hands-on career training, we can help. The Imagine America Foundation works with a robust network of schools who provide career and technical education for students like you.

Search our database to find schools that offer associate degree programs online or in your area! And don’t forget to register for free with IAF to apply for scholarships, get useful tips for succeeding in school, and prepare for the workforce.