What Can You Do With An Associate Degree In Business?

Posted on: 7 November 2018

Are you considering returning to school to complete a degree? A great deal of emphasis is placed on bachelor's and advanced degrees, but a two-year associate degree can be a great way to jump-start your education or boost earnings. According to the Community College Research Center, associate degree holders earn 18-26% more on average than holders of GEDs or high school diplomas alone. In real terms, this can translate to an average of $4000-$7000 more in earnings per year. Since the total cost of most two-year degrees is less than $5500, an associate degree can potentially pay for itself in less time than it took to complete it.

Of course, just knowing the numbers is probably not enough to convince you that committing to two years in school is worthwhile. You may feel as though many of the job postings that you have seen require four-year degrees, but here is just a small sample of the opportunities available to people who hold an associate degree.

Retail Management

Many large and small retail establishments require only an associate degree for both assistant store managers and store managers. Not only do these positions offer the potential to gain direct management experience, but they tend to be fairly well-paying jobs on their own. Retail assistant managers can make $50,000/year or more, while store managers often make $60,000/year and up. Many retail stores hire managers and assistant managers directly, so an associate degree can potentially allow you to skip over lower level store positions and enter directly into management.

Human Resources

Human resource departments often look for candidates with degrees in business management or administration, and often entry-level positions require only an associate degree. Human resource positions often involve dealing with everything from employee compensation and benefits to recruitment and employee disputes. With an associate degree, you can likely move into a managerial position within a human resources department, where the potential exists for salaries in the low six-figures.

Sales and Account Managers

Sales and accounts is a broad field that encompasses everything from direct client sales to the management of supplier accounts and other logistics-focused activities. Many companies expect only an associate degree for candidates interested in entry-level positions in these departments and the potential usually exists to move into management positions. Although sales managers at the entry-level with no experience often must have a four-year degree, candidates with a background in sales can usually overcome this requirement with their experience.

Continue Your Education

Finally, an associate degree is a great stepping stone to furthering your education if that is your goal. Most community colleges offer associate degree programs for less than the cost of a single semester of tuition at a four-year university, potentially saving thousands or tens of thousands on the final cost of a bachelor's degree. Even better, completing your associate degree before transferring to a four-year program gives you the credentials necessary to enter the workforce while you finish your higher degree. This not only saves you more money but also builds invaluable experience that will give you a leg up on your classmates after graduation.