Thinking of pursuing an associate of applied science (AAS) degree? It’s not difficult to see the appeal. College graduates with AAS degrees can hold some pretty cool-sounding job titles, from medical sonographer to chemical technician. You can also earn your AAS degree in about two years, allowing you to enter the workforce quickly and start doing what you love every single day. Sound promising? Read on to learn more about earning an associate of applied science degree.
What Is an Associate of Applied Science?
An associate of applied science is a technical associate degree that can be earned after attending post-secondary school for two years. AAS degree programs are offered by a range of schools, including community colleges, technical schools, and some four-year universities.
AAS programs usually require students to take the majority of courses in —you guessed — the applied sciences, a discipline that involves applying scientific knowledge to practical applications. Think: solving crimes by studying forensic evidence, developing technology to improve healthcare, using Earth-observing satellites to make a global impact, and so on. In essence, anything that uses scientific knowledge to influence the daily lives of humanity involves the applied sciences.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate of Applied Science?
Although most associate degrees can be earned in two years or less, getting an associate of applied science may take you slightly longer depending on the program and field you choose. This is because AAS degrees typically require students to complete 60-80 credit hours, whereas other associate degree programs usually require 48-60 credit hours.
However, keep in mind that the additional credit hours may be worth it in terms of potential earnings. As you’ll see below, an associate of applied science can open doors to some of the highest-paying careers of the future.
Jobs You Can Get with an AAS Degree
So, what kinds of jobs can you get with an AAS degree? Answer: a lot. Using 2019 wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we rounded up a few rewarding careers that you can pursue with an associate of applied science:
- Web Developer ($73,760)
- Veterinary Technologist ($35,320)
- Dental Hygienist ($76,220)
- Medical Sonographer ($68,750)
- Chemical Technician ($49,260)
- Physical Therapist Assistant ($48,990)
- Radiologic Technologist ($62,280)
- Geological and Petroleum Technician ($51,130)
Not sure if AAS jobs are right for you? Check out our related blog post on associate of arts degree jobs to explore more career options.
Why Pursue an AAS Degree?
Although it only takes a few years to earn an associate of applied science, that’s still a big commitment of time and money. To help you make the right choice for you, here are a few good reasons why you may want to pursue an AAS degree:
- You Want to Enter the Workforce Immediately – Eager to jumpstart your career? An associate of applied science degree may be the way to go. Unlike other associate degree programs, AAS degree programs aren’t intended to be a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. Instead, they emphasize technical skills and career-readiness to help prepare students to enter the workforce immediately.
- You Want a High-Paying Career – Since AAS degree programs are often highly technical and emphasize hard skills, they can potentially lead to some extremely lucrative careers. Of course, how much you make depends on the field you choose. But as you can see from the jobs we listed above, there are plenty of well-paying jobs that are open to AAS degree holders.
- You Want Flexibility – Not quite ready to commit yourself to four years of late-night study sessions at uni? We totally get it. If you’re not sure whether you want to continue your education, earning an associate of applied science is a great option because it offers career flexibility. You can earn your AAS after two years and start working immediately. Want to keep going and earn your bachelor’s degree? That’s cool, too.
Pursuing higher education? Read our blog – What Is a Bachelor’s? – to learn more.
Is an AAS Degree Right for You?
Getting an associate degree in applied science can lead to a great many things: a stable career, a good wage and less college debt, to name just a few. The real question is whether or not an AAS degree is right for you. Although we can’t make that decision for you, we’ve hopefully given you some important things to think about as you explore degree options. Good luck!