Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Top 5 highest paying associate degree jobs

I’m a firm believer that following your passion usually results in higher income. This is because doing what you love usually results in better work. And in a free market, the price goes up for better work.

This isn’t always the case. If you love liberal arts or cleaning buildings, you must understand that the market doesn’t value those things very much, so you won’t make much money. Not that you shouldn’t pursue those careers. You totally should if they make your day. But you must also temper your lifestyle expectations, especially if you’re not the entrepreneurial type.

That said, I’m also a believer in beating the system. So if you still don’t know what you want to do in life, why pay for four years of college when you can pay for two instead, still get a marketable job, and make a good wage until you finally transition to something you could do the rest of your life?

For that, a high-paying two-year associate degree might be a good fit, according to estimated salaries compiled by money.com, Reddit, and Google. They are as follows: 

  1. Air traffic controller ($122k median income)
  2. Electrical and communications engineering technician ($92k median income)
  3. Radiation therapist ($80k median income)
  4. Computer/web programmer ($79k median income)
  5. Fire prevention and safety technician ($76k median income)

Other high-paying associate degrees include nuclear technicians, dental hygienists, practitioner nurses (ADN), welders, HVAC workers, and funeral directors.

Looking back, I value my four-year bachelor’s in business. But I knew I liked business, even though I didn’t know what area. And I knew I liked ambitious people, many of which are attracted to business. So it worked out for me as a writing consultant.

Still, were I to do it today, I might consider a high-paying associate’s career first, especially with the exorbitant rise of college tuition.