Degrees for a Speedy Career Switch


See how the right education could help you prepare to pursue a hot new career in as little as two years.

By Renee Wade    

Want to make a career change, but not sure you can take on the four-year commitment of a bachelor's degree?

Good news: There are many hot career options - in technology, health, and more - available to those with only a two-year associate's degree.

Read on to learn about five associate's degrees that could help you prepare to launch a new career.

Associate's Degree #1 - Paralegal Studies

Do you excel at research, meeting deadlines, and organizing information? You might want to consider pursuing an associate's degree in paralegal studies.

Click to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Program.

With this degree, you could learn how to utilize your natural organizational gifts in the paralegal field in as little as two years.* Expect to take courses that will help you learn to use legal journals and digests, draft briefs, and write concisely about legal issues.

Hot Factors: Paralegals have an average salary of $49,640, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.** The same department predicts 74,100 new jobs to be added to the field between 2008 and 2018.

Associate's Degree #2 - Nursing

Do you feel like you were always meant to help others? Are you interested in medicine and ready to make a quick career change? Consider taking the two-year plunge into preparing for a registered nurse career with a nursing associate's degree.*

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

If you go to school for your associate's in nursing, you can expect to take hands-on courses in health assessment, nursing practice, and physical examination and documentation.

Hot Factors: Registered nurses have an average salary of $67,720.** But that's not the only thing hot about this career. According to the Department of Labor, 581,500 new jobs will be added to the field between 2008 and 2018.

Associate's Degree #3 - Information Technology (IT)

If you're interested in gaining superior tech skills, you've got great options, even if you're looking to stay away from a long-term school commitment. An associate's degree in information technology could help you find both job satisfaction and a satisfactory earning potential.

Click to Find the Right Information Technology Program.

Those pursuing an IT associate's degree can expect to take a variety of technology-related courses. You may end up with classes for web development, web page design, and database or telecommunications networks; your courses will depend on which area of technology most interests you.

Hot Factors: These professionals have an average salary of $49,930 per year.** The Department of Labor projects 78,000 new jobs to be added to this field between 2008 and 2018. Additional benefits could include working flexible hours or even working from home.

Associate's Degree #4 - Medical Assisting

If you love helping people and have great multitasking abilities, consider pursuing a two-year associate's degree in medical assisting. This could provide great preparation to help you eventually take on medical assisting responsibilities, like filing records and taking vital signs.

Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program.

While courses may vary, they typically include introduction to administrative functions (including learning to file medical records and insurance claim forms) as well as medical ethics and principles.

Hot Factors: Medical assistants have an average annual salary of $29,760.** The Department of Labor notes that this sector of the medical field is expected to add 163,900 new jobs between 2008 and 2018. Medical assisting also offers opportunities for flexible work environments within hospitals, labs, and clinics.

Associate's Degree #5 - Accounting

Have you noticed that you enjoy keeping records and balancing your checkbook? If this sounds familiar, you may want to seek an associate's degree in accounting. Not only could you put your financial skills to good use, but you also could be on your way to a bookkeeping career in as little as a couple of years.*

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

As an accounting associate's degree student, you can expect to be exposed to basic accounting concepts. You'll also likely learn to prepare financial statements such as balance sheets, cash flow, and income statements.

Hot Factors: Armed with this associate's degree, the Department of Labor states that you could be a viable candidate for a career as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk, who have an annual average salary of $35,340.** These fields are predicted to add 212,400 new jobs between 2008 and 2018.

*Time to completion for degree programs is never a guarantee, and will depend on the individual student's program, course load, time commitment, and a variety of other factors.

**All average salary information is from the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2010 statistics.

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