Advantages from an associate degree

March 06, 2003

Compared with workers whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma, workers with an associate degree averaged an extra $128 a week in 2001.

Weekly earnings for persons 16 and over by highest level of educational attainment, 2001 annual averages
[Chart data—TXT]

People with associate degrees also are more likely to find jobs: the unemployment rate in 2001 was under 3 percent for associate degree holders compared with over 4 percent for high school graduates. And, according to several academic studies, advantages in the job market might be even greater for those just starting their careers and for those who work in a career related to their degree.

An associate degree is a college degree awarded after the completion of about 20 classes. It either prepares students for a career following graduation or allows them to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program. Associate degrees are available from public community colleges, private 2-year colleges, for-profit technical institutes, and many 4-year colleges and universities.

These earnings and unemployment data are from the Current Population Survey. More information can be found in "Associate degree: Two years to a career or a jump start to a bachelor’s degree," by Olivia Crosby, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Winter 2002-03.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Advantages from an associate degree on the Internet at (visited September 25, 2016).


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