The High Value of an Associate Degree
A recent article in USA Today speculates that in today's economy a two-year degree might be more valuable than a four-year degree. The article states that the trends indicate some of the mid skill jobs that disappeared during the recession are coming back and might signal a more lasting growth in areas such as Mid-level managers and medical records specialist, just to name a few. Shannon Schell, Director of Recruitment at Southeast Technical explains that two year colleges are smart choices for students today saying, "They can get in, get an education, and start on their career path many times in two years or less depending on the program. Students are also able to take their education on to a 4-year school, complete a bachelor's degree, and finish with less debt."
The bright outlook in a variety of technical level careers means that students beginning an associate degree spring semester 2013, for example, could start earning associate degree salaries as early as 2014. The U.S. Census Bureau affirms that associate degree holders earn an average of $400,000 more in a lifetime than high school graduates. CareerBuilder.com reports that some of the associate programs with the hottest career prospects today include Accounting, Nursing, Information Technology, Applied Science, Paralegal Studies, Medical Specialties, and Electrical Engineer. In addition, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)reports that those with associate degrees earn an average of 17 percent more than someone with a high school education and 41 percent more than someone with less than an a high school education. It also reports that the unemployment rate of associate degree holders is markedly lower than the national average.
Studies show that there are a number of associate degrees that will allow their holder to earn high wages with little or no on-the-job training or experience. The BLS is also predicting that healthcare will be among the fastest growing industries this decade. It is projecting over 1.2 million Registered Nurse job openings this decade. Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians and Radiologic Technologist and Technicians also made the list.
By 2018 eighty-five percent of new jobs in Minnesota will require some post-secondary education. More than half of these will require a two year degree or less. Schell conveys, "Two year colleges have great relationships with the business community and are able to provide the education and skills that employers are looking for today." Just a few of the initiatives that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System have put into place are to align academic programs to turn out the right numbers of graduates in the right professions, to ensure that students are learning on top of the line equipment and technology that they will encounter in the real world and provide more hands on experience to students as they prepare for their futures.