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raven860's avatar

What is the value of an Associates degree?

Asked by raven860 (2163points) September 30th, 2012

I will be graduation college soon with an Associated degree in General Education, Liberal Arts and Engineering. Can someone please tell me the value of degrees and what kind of jobs should I look for?

Any other advice that you can give me?


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22 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think in most fields it doesn’t have very much value. I have never seen associates degree listed as a job requirement. In a few fields, like nursing, a two year degree is really worth something. It definitely gives you an edge over people with just a high school degree, but won’t suffice if a job requires a bachelors. Talk to the career center at your college, get help from them. Are you going to pursue your 4 year degree?

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you do well in school you can use the Associates degrees to help you get into a 4 year school while saving some money.
When applying for a job your Associates degree will give you an advantage over people with only a high school degree. The degree is a “data point” for the interviewer. It is absolute proof of several intangible but important traits. It shows that:
1) You value education enough to spend the time and resources to get it.
2) You can complete a task successfully. (You overcame obstacles and did not get sidetracked by family matters, drugs, car problems, etc.)
3) You have some skills in your degree field
4) You have the potential to go on to a higher degree.
If you do get it, make sure to do your best. Don’t screw around. Your transcript will be a permanent record of what you can do. Make it look good. Good luck.

marinelife's avatar

It shows that you have some college. it is not as valuable as a Bachelor’s degree. Have you considered transferring with it to a four-year school?

hearkat's avatar

It depends on one’s career goals are. There are some specific fields that a two-year degree is designed for. Others require a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate.

Liberal Arts is a very vague major, and its usually what people choose until they narrow-down a specific career goal. Most Engineering programs are more specific, such as Mechanical Enginerring, Chemical Engineering, etc. General Education also seems vague, and most teaching certifications require at least a Bachelor’s. So I don’t have a sense that your degree will get you in the door for much, other than substitute teaching, which usually requires 64 college credits.

I dropped out of a four-year school (where I had majored in Psychology), because I realized that wasn’t a good career goal for me. After a couple years, I went back to community college because I didn’t want to be out of school too long, but still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took the Liberal Arts major to get the basic course work under my belt and then took various electives that I found interesting. One course, Voice and Diction, got me interested in Speech Therapy – which is a Master’s level field. After I graduated, I transferred into a four-year school in the Communication Sciences program, my Minor was Psychology (since I’d accumulated many credits when I first went to school). It wasn’t long before I realized that Speech Therapy was not a good fit for me. The following semester we took our first course in Hearing – Audiology 101 – and I knew the very first day that it was what I wanted to do.

I was nearly 23 years old then; but that was more than 23 years ago, and I still love being an Audiologist. Now I have a 21-year-old son, and he has no idea what he wants to do for a career. He currently is working full-time as an apprentice auto mechanic, but it doesn’t really interest him, except for the steady paycheck. He took a few courses at community college, and that just stressed him out, so he’s stopped. I understand how difficult it is to find a career, but I also appreciate how much of a difference it makes when you love what you do.

So the truth is that only you can answer your own question. What classes or careers do you find interesting? What subjects seem to come naturally to you, and which have you found most challenging or unpleasant? There should be career centers with counselors on campus… set up an appointment to see if they can help guide you in discovering what comes next for you. Good Luck!

blueiiznh's avatar

More value that not having a degree. Many entry level jobs require at least this.

I recommend you determine what field you are interested in getting into and contiue your studies to get a Bachelor’s Degree.

Kayak8's avatar

Not worth much except the experience (and to the extent that the information you have learned will benefit you, personally) as explained above and the fact that you have finished the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

Judi's avatar

There are a lot of government jobs where it is part of the screening process. If you have X amount of education your application advances to the interview process. There are also jobs that just count college credits when taking raises and promotions into consideration.
In our sue happy world, more companies are using quantifiable criteria to prove that they made their hiring decision based strictly on the information at hand, not on personal bias.
Your degree might make the difference between getting an interview (even at a low level job) or not. (I personally think that sucks because the best employees are not always the type that can sit for hours learning information that they can see no applicable use for.)

PhiNotPi's avatar

Many degrees are deflating in value. As a larger percentage of people start earning higher degrees, and as the jobs markets does not expand similarly, people start to need higher degrees in order to compete for jobs.

Even if a job only requires an Associate’s Degree, but many people in the field have Bachelor’s Degrees, then a person with only an Associate’s Degree will not be able to compete.

Here is a chart showing how the percentage of the population with Bachelor’s Degrees has changed over time. From 1947 to 2003, the percentage with a Bachelor’s degree has easily quadrupled.

Another problem is that degrees can deflate in value well after you have left college and entered the jobs market. If a person graduates at a time when an Associate’s Degree is considered enough education, twenty years down the line this may no longer be the case. Many younger workers may (and probably will) be entering the same field with a Bachelor’s Degree or better, and the now older worker will not be able to compete for jobs.

If you are qualified today, you may not be considered qualified a few decades into the future.

I would recommend getting at least a Bachelor’s degree, as a minimum, for any field of work.

gailcalled's avatar

If nothing else, it will enable you to get a BA at half the price.

You have an awful lot of specialties for a two-year-program. Of what practical value are your engineering courses other than to allow you entry to upper level classes? That is not to be sneered at, however.

dabbler's avatar

To a prospective employer, and Associate’s Degree (or a degree or certification of most kinds) shows that you can focus and stick to a course through completion, especially if you got good grades. Also since the Associate’s Degree is voluntary (contrast to high-school) it shows extra motivation.

Besides employment, hopefully you studied something that’s interesting to you. That’s always worth something whether or not you get a credential.

Carly's avatar

There are lots of schools that you can transfer to with an AA or AS that will allow you to totally pass out of all their gen-ed requirements. If you took all the same classes, but didnt get the Associates degree, and THEN tried to transfer, you could end up having to repeat requirements for whatever bullshit reason they give you.

In terms of being valuable in the job market… idk, my friends who only have AAs all work in retail still.

raven860's avatar

Thank you for your responses. Yeah I will be going to my career center to figure out what I can do for now. My story is like this…my grades are not great and I am 23 years old. The original plan was to get a 4 year degree in Mechanical Engineering but the last few years of my life have been quite turbulent. They have been turbulent to the point that really I just want to get away from everything around me and start off somewhere new (and hope it changes my attitude about everything).

Anyway, for now, I was thinking about searching for a better paying job that requires my AA Engineering degree as a qualification. A quick check on Google reveals that I can expect to earn about $50k/year but I am not sure how accurate that information is.

JLeslie's avatar

@raven860 What type of jobs did you find on google for an AA in Engineering? I never even knew there is such a degree. But, I know very little about AA degrees. I went to a jr college at first, but transfered as a sophomore. I never really pursued an AA. Some states guarantee you admission into a state univeristy if you have an AA from a college within the state that the university acknowledges as transferable.

hearkat's avatar

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a useful resource for different jobs and what is required to get them.

In addition to talking to a career counselor, you may want to consult a therapist/counselor about dealing with the turbulence in your life.

Don’t hesitate to reach out here, also, because the Jellies in the Fluther community have a lot of varied life experiences to draw on and offer support, encouragement, and advice.

raven860's avatar

@JLeslie @Judi @hearkat &others

Sorry for the late reply, I have had a few test/quizzes to prepare for recently.

Well it was a very basic search and the results yielded technician jobs. $50k was mostly for technicians in the aerospace industry. I did this a while back and so I am not sure how accurately I remember it.

I did try counselling briefly but the ones I found ( or rather my primary doctor at the time and parents found off a list) did not impress me. They seemed more interested in charging me $15/ per half hour than helping me. Also, at the time I don’t think I was able to properly explain what happened ( I mean I was the one who underwent all of it…and well it was hard for me to explain it to others…My description may sound confusing but it may make sense if I get more into it).

Part of the problem is that this ‘ordeal of sorts’ lasted well over two years and that probably is the biggest factor that hinders me from moving off it. It actually is a very stupid thing. I say that because it is not one of the major setbacks that you hear about people having in life but I would say it has been equally disruptive.

JLeslie's avatar

@raven860 What are you talking about regarding counseling? The recommendations were for a career counselor, not a standard psych counselor.

raven860's avatar


Oh that part was in response to @hearkat‘s comment. I haven’t seen a career counselor yet and will be seeing one very soon.

Also, If you guys are interested in knowing more then I will add a few more details regarding what happened…perhaps by tonight ( I have another midterm to prepare for…its crazy).

hearkat's avatar

@raven860: Finding a therapist that you feel has genuine compassion and is trustworthy is challenging, but ultimately worth it. I didn’t mean to derail your education/career-based thread, so if you want to go further into details about your other issues, and get our feedback, it might be best if you create a new post in the Social section of Fluther.

raven860's avatar


TBH, I don’t like talking about it and putting details out on the internet ( for various reasons). I feel it will take a bit of courage on my part to do so and to trust other people with that information ( I actually am/was a rather stoic person but I suppose this is a 1st). However I do feel the need to share sometimes.

And so I will ( apologies if I am pushing this onto you). It is along the lines of the following… my former co-workers wanted to harass me. They tried it for multiple years but I was able to doge them. Then came a time where I was completely distraught and needed someone. They took advantage of that period and I got harassed extensively…in a way ( I am not the kind of person who get bullied). I really had a lot of things going on during that time and to say I had a mental breakdown ( or something similar) might not explain all of it ( and perhaps even be an understatement).

The part that is agonizing is that most of these perpetrators are the biggest weaklings I have met. Their ways have always been measly, petty, bitchy and pathetic. I am amazed how other people would want to associate with them ( but that is a different story). The whole thing is frustrating because there are several anomalies in this story.

hearkat's avatar

@raven860: I find that people who bully and belittle others are often doing it to deflect the attention from themselves, to cover-up their own sense of insecurity, and to build a false sense of superiority. Also, in an environment where bullying or harassment is occurring, others tend to take the ‘stronger’ side, so as not to be victimized themselves.

On top of that, you say they they were kicking you when you were already down, metaphorically speaking, and all combined it was overwhelming to you. That is nothing to be ashamed of… we all have our breaking point. That is where the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” comes from… when you’ve taken all you can bear, and something else is added to it – no matter how small – you will break down.

In lieu of talk therapy, you may want to journal about your experiences. I found that writing things down helped me purge some of what haunted me, but I would also review recent entries on occasion, and I might reconsider them or look at them from another angle. It was a process of learning to look at a situation from the outside to objectify it, as if it were a close friend dealing with it, rather than myself. Then I was able to consider what advice I would be giving that friend, and to choose my own actions based on thoughtful consideration, instead of just emotional reactions. In addition, I found it helpful to imagine that it were five or ten years from now, and I were looking back on this time of my life… what actions or choices would I be ashamed of, and what would I look back on with a sense of dignity? This process has helped me make decisions in the present regarding personal accountability that have been hard to face, but once resolved, I am able to move on with no regrets.

raven860's avatar


Thanks for that. I agree with your description of bullies although I am not sure I understand why the ‘weaklings’ would side with them. I can acknowledge that it does happen but someone has to be really down to be at that level IMO.

That sounds like an interesting method of therapy. Well right now I take a pill everyday for anti-depression medication and to keep me “calm”. In the past, there were some days where I would get really mad thinking about it all and sometimes lash out at family. Ever since the pills recommended by my doctor, such incidents have not happened. I have never had acted in such way before but at least things are much better now.

Thinking about it the only thing I can think of is that I might dislike the fact that I have it in record somewhere and that if I were to read it again in the future then everything will come back to me…but I think I am willing to risk that. For the most part I try my best to enjoy myself and simply not think about it. I also don’t feel as shameful or guilty about it as before ( mainly because back then my mind felt clouded and messy with emotions). Anyway, thanks for the information and I will be putting it to test soon! I do have a friend that I write to at times (since she lives in a different continent) and so I might try doing it as a part to her and self-reviewing it in the process.

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