When it comes to visualizing your professional career and development in the future, it helps to picture your goals within the next 10 years; the idea is to think about your earning potential and how it conforms to your financial horizon. Are you earning enough to support yourself and your loved ones? Do you see your current job as being in demand? These are the two basic questions you should seek real answers to, and they are intrinsically related to your educational achievement. With an associate of arts degree, these questions become easier to answer.
The truth about the associate of arts (A.A.) degrees is that they can open many doors for those who choose to make college a part of their lives. If you are looking for a bottom line, look no further than the employment. In September 2019, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.5 percent. The last time the rate was this low was in December 1969, when it also was 3.5 percent. Over the month, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 275,000 to 5.8 million. As for wages and salary, A.A. recipients earned about $200 more per week compared to those with just high school diplomas and an average of $41,496 a year, according to the BLS. In some cases, you can earn more than $55,000 per year with these degrees.
Knowing Your Options With A.A. Degrees
Associate degrees are two-year degrees. Although they can take longer or shorter to complete, depending on the pace of study, they are generally half the workload of a four-year bachelor’s degree. They are, therefore, about half the price of a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes significantly cheaper than that allowing you to avoid student debt.
Since A.A. degrees denote a certain level of college education that many employers are constantly looking for, your options are numerous. The professional fields where A.A. graduates can find better employment opportunities range from government to marketing and from healthcare to education. At a time when companies and organizations in South Florida and across the U.S. are looking to improve their competitive edge, one of the best ways for job applicants to stand out is with A.A. degrees.
Difference Between A.A. and A.S. or A.A.S. Degree
You may have heard about an associate of science degrees, which are also offered by FNU, and may be wondering how they differ from A.A. programs. In essence, A.S. degrees are designed in a way to make them more specific to scientific fields such as medical laboratory specialists, information technology and radiology. The credit hour requirements may be higher, and the process of transferring to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree may be narrower. To a certain extent, A.A. programs can be more flexible since you can start with criminal justice, for example, and transfer to legal studies bachelor’s degree program.
Associate in Arts (A.A.)
An AA degree is usually the broadest, and therefore the least specific, of all the associated arts degrees. During the AA program, students will take wide-ranging courses that can include introductions to history, art, literature, music, business, writing, and communication. The main advantage of an associate in arts degree is that it does not limit the graduate to a certain path, meaning there are many AA degree jobs available.
Associate in Science (A.S.)
An AS degree is still broad, but it has a little more specificity than an associate in arts. These types of degrees are generally chosen if the student intends to pursue further education in an area that includes science, such as nursing or engineering.
Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)
An AAS degree is a highly-specific education path, usually technical, that focuses on a single career field. Students who want to get an education and jump immediately into a specific career will want to consider an associate in applied science.
A.A. Degrees and the Liberal Arts
It is important to understand what A.A. degrees entail, which cover academic subjects related to liberal arts, but they should not be confused with bachelor’s degrees granted by colleges that focus on liberal arts curricula. A.A. degrees are generally completed in two years and can have certain specializations; for example, Florida National University offers the following A.A. programs:
- Business Administration
- Criminal Justice
- Health Services Administration
- Hospitality Management
- Public Administration
- Paralegal Studies
Whether you are fresh out of high school or already in the workforce, an A.A. can help enhance your skills and expand your knowledge. Some of the A.A. programs offered by FNU are designed to be completed fully online, which makes them ideal for working adults.
What to Expect Upon Enrollment in A.A. Programs
Even though A.A. degrees are granted on an undergraduate basis, you will be expected to satisfactorily complete 60 credit hours. Your curriculum will consist of general education and core requirements plus electives; the former will cover English, humanities, math, social sciences, and communications while the latter will consist of courses that are more specific to your desired concentration.
Let’s say you enroll in FNU’s Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice program, which happens to be a degree you can fully complete online should you choose to do so. Once you go through the enrollment and financial aid process, here are some of the courses you can start working on:
- English Composition I and II
- Fundamentals of Oral Communication
- College Algebra
- Introduction to Statistics
- Introduction to Information Technology
- Introduction to Criminal Law
- Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation
- Psychology Applied to Law
Criminal justice happens to be a popular FNU program, but you can expect this much variety from many of our programs in order to provide a well-rounded education. To learn more about your career possibilities in this and other fields, contact one of our counselors today.
Career Options for A.A. Graduates
As previously mentioned, pursuing an A.A. degree opens many professional opportunities across various economic sectors. The 10 career paths below may be realistically attained by FNU students who complete A.A. programs:
- Median pay: $57,470
- Job growth through 2024: 8.7%
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Median pay: $69,650
- Job growth through 2024: 26.4%
Occupational Therapy Assistant
- Median pay: $59,010
- Job growth through 2024: 42.7%
- Median pay: $72,910
- Job growth through 2024: 18.6%
Computer Information Technology
- Median pay: $66,130
- Job growth through 2024: 26.6%
Physical Therapist Assistant
- Median pay: $56,610
- Job growth through 2024: 40.6%
- Median pay: $58,670
- Job growth through 2024: 12.3%
Medical Assistant Technology
- Median pay: $30,683
- Job growth through 2024: 23%
- Median pay: $46,467
- Job growth through 2024: 10.8%
Nursing (BSN) or Registered Nurse
- Median pay: $62,531
- Job growth through 2024: 13.8%
It should be noted that the school you choose is paramount in terms of boosting your chances of getting hired on the basis of your A.A. strength. Employers generally look for degrees completed at accredited colleges such as FNU, which are licensed by Florida’s Commission for Independent Education and accredited to grant associate degrees by the Southern Association of Colleges.
In addition, if you want a well-paying trade and be done with school forever, then the right A.A. program is for you. However, if you think that you will go back to school one day to get a B.A. or M.A. then consider your options more carefully to see which careers have advancement options available. It’s perfectly fine to know what you want – less schooling, less student debt or conversely, more specialty or more pay over a lifetime.
When choosing a career, you need to make sure there will be employment opportunities in the future, especially after spending time fulfilling all the educational requirements. Don’t just choose an occupation just because it has a great job outlook or appears on a list of best career. Make sure it is a good fit for you!
Let FNU Help You Achieve Your Career Goals
Your professional development does not have to be limited to A.A. programs. FNU offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees as well as career diplomas and technical certificates. In addition to being an accredited institution of higher learning, FNU is also a military-friendly school dedicated to helping veterans as well as members of the Armed Forces who may be on active or reserve duty. Financial aid, athletics, scholarships, and vibrant student life are among the highlights of FNU. With two main campus locations and a training center in South Florida, FNU can be the stepping stone you need to future-proof your career. For more information about A.A. degrees and everything FNU has to offer, contact our admissions department today.