Contrary to popular belief, a degree in the arts isn’t all about painting and drawing. In fact, people who possess associate of arts (AA) degrees have titles like operations manager, executive assistant, and teacher. Actually, earning an associate of arts can lead to a ton of unique careers , ranging from business to the fine arts. So just because you’re not the art class hero doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue an AA degree. It may actually be a better fit than you think!
What Is an Associate of Arts (AA)?
If you’re not sure what this degree is all about, here’s a breakdown:
An associate of arts is an associate’s degree earned after two years of course study in the arts, social sciences, business, or humanities. Some common AA majors include law, business administration, and psychology, but majors differ from one college to the next. The AA degree is different from the other main category of associate’s degrees — the Associate of Science (AS) — which is awarded in fields of computer science, healthcare, engineering, chemistry, biology, and other sciences.
Note that an associate of arts is different from an associate’s degree with an art major. If you want to study fine arts such as art, music, graphic design, illustration, ceramics, film, sculpture, creative writing, or photography, you might want to consider an associate of fine arts (AFA) degree program.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate of Arts (AA)?
In general, most associate of arts programs require 50 to 60 college-level credit hours — that’s equivalent to about four semesters or two years of higher ed — with the majority of those hours going toward general education (gen ed) courses. For many students, obtaining an AA degree is a stepping stone on the path to a bachelor’s degree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing if your goals don’t involve a four-year degree.
Jobs You Can Find with an AA Degree
So what associate degree jobs are available to those who possess an associate of arts, you ask? These degrees are considered academic or transfer degrees and are meant to prepare you for work and study across a broad range of industries rather than a specific one. That means you can work in lots of different environments, with titles such as:
- Preschool teacher
- Industrial designer
- Human resources manager
- Executive assistant
- Operations manager
- Account executive
- Creative assistant
- Graphic designer
- Administrative assistant
- Customer service representative
Reasons to Pursue an Associate of Arts
- You Want to Earn More Money — Getting an associate’s degree of any kind will lead to a higher earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with an associate’s degree earn a median weekly income of $862 ($49,593), while people with a high school diploma earn a median weekly income of $730 ($41,998). The unemployment rate is also significantly lower for those with an associate’s.
- You Want to Save Money on a Four-Year Degree — The AA degree is often considered a transfer degree, which means that it should easily transfer to a four-year college or university. But one thing you should know is that you can — and maybe even should — get your AA degree at a junior or community college. Why would you want to do this? It’s all about the money! Community colleges are way cheaper than universities — we’re talkin’ like half price. The average cost of a public two-year college in the U.S. is $3,440, while the average cost of a public four-year college for in-state students is $9,410. So why not get a deal on the first two years before you head to a university?
- You Want Options — The associate of arts is meant to provide you with a well-rounded education across a bunch of subject matters, including math, language arts, sciences, and humanities. This means that you’ll be prepared for a wide range of career paths and educational opportunities, so settling on a single thing isn’t necessary yet. It’s also a great choice for people who may want to go onto a traditional four-year program.
AA Degrees Are a Safe Bet
If your goal is to ease into college, save money on tuition, or explore a variety of subjects before settling on one, then you can consider an associate of arts degree an excellent path forward. You can always use your AA degree as a jumping off point for a specialized training program or a more advanced degree, and that’s never a bad thing!