Seven IT jobs you can land with an associate’s degree
These IT careers are more focused on your skills than your degree
Information Technology (IT) is booming, and so are jobs in the industry. This makes IT careers prime targets for incoming college students and adults looking for a mid-life career change. If this sounds like you, you likely have a tonne of questions.
Among the burning questions, the one burning the hottest is how much time and money you'll have to put into your degree to get the IT skills you need to succeed. You'll be happy to know that many IT jobs require only an associate's degree to get started. From there, it's all about experience and continued learning.
If you plan things right, you can be out of school and in your new IT career with an outstanding job outlook in just over two years.
Below, we'll highlight IT careers that are more than happy to accept you and your associate’s degree. But before we dive into the potential careers, let’s see what differences there really are between an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor’s vs associate’s degree
There are some factors to consider when comparing an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree. Here are a few key concerns to keep in mind:
Time: A bachelor’s degree generally takes about four years to complete, whereas an associate’s program is usually a two-year degree. This can vary depending on the course load you can handle.
Cost: A bachelor’s degree will run at least $40,000. That’s just for tuition -- not room, board, books, etc -- at a state school. For an associate’s degree, students can expect to cut that cost at least in half. Of course, the type of institution and the program can affect this cost significantly.
Field of Study/Career: Not every career path will hire a candidate with an associate’s degrees -- some require a bachelor’s degree. If they don’t require a bachelor’s degree, you may still have to compete with candidates who have it.
Earnings: Someone with a bachelor’s degrees tends to have a higher average salary than those with associate’s degrees. That may not be true in every field, but it’s worth considering.
The benefit of the associate's degree program is there are fewer general education courses. Associate's programs tend to be career-driven, so if you’re looking for a degree in information technology, you can expect two years of primarily IT-specific classes.
Technology is an associate’s degree-friendly field, as most companies don’t care if their tech gurus are well-versed in Chaucer or knowledgeable in geology.
What’s more, you can land good jobs with just an associate’s degree. While the annual salaries may not be high to start, these seven IT jobs require just an associate’s degree and can develop into relatively high-paying jobs over time.
Network systems administrator
Degree focus: Network systems or network systems administration
Median Annual Wage: $82,050 per year/$39.45 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 5%
Businesses rely on their computers and networks, and a network system administrator keeps these key items up and running. They are responsible for installing and upgrading hardware and software, and troubleshooting computer issues. In some cases, this position is also in charge of network security. With a median salary of $82,050 annually, it’s not a bad gig.
Computer systems analyst
Degree focus: Computer systems analysis, computer information technology
Median Annual Wage: $88,740 per year/$42.66 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 9%
Computer systems analysts are jack-of-all-trades in the IT space. They work with company leadership as a representative of the IT department, implement software, install hardware on systems and may even do some project management. It has a 10-year job growth outlook, which is well above average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Computer network architect
Degree focus: Computer networking
Median Annual Wage: $109,020 per year/$52.41 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 5%
A computer network architect is a business’ maestro of all things networking. From LANs to WANs and intranet, the network architect’s job is to implement, maintain and update these networks while keeping the business’s goals and security in mind.
It may be a tougher role to land with an associate’s degree, but if you have the right experience, it can be a great-paying job with a median annual wage over $100k per year.
Degree focus: Database administration
Median Annual Wage: $90,070 per year/$43.31 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 9%
Data is essential to many companies’ day-to-day operations, and it can sometimes be very sensitive. Think of large companies or organizations that need to keep track of a lot of information, such as an insurance company, university or bank. A database administrator helps the company design, implement and maintain its database software to store and organize its data. Maintaining security for the data is a high priority. It has a promising 10-year expected job growth rate at 9%.
Degree focus: Software development, computer programming
Median Annual Wage: $84,280 per year/$40.52 per hour
10-year projected job growth: -7%
Computer programmers build the code that makes computer programs work. They may also do a lot of troubleshooting to keep that code working. While the outlook for this position is less than ideal because of outsourcing, BLS data shows there were over 250,000 computer programmer positions in the United States in 2018. If coding is your passion, go for it. There will be jobs.
Degree focus: Web development
Median Annual Wage: $69,430 per year/$33.38 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 13%
Web developers are responsible for creating websites and making sure they function smoothly. Their job may also include some web design, but many companies hire web designers for this process.
While web developers may not make as much money as others on this list, the demand for this position is skyrocketing. It’s a career with a lot of open doors right now and for the foreseeable future.
Computer support specialist
Degree focus: Information technology, computer science or desktop support
Median Annual Wage: $53,470 per year/$25.70 per hour
10-year projected job growth: 10%
If troubleshooting and problem-solving are your fortes, then this could be your field. Computer support specialists provide advice and help as needed for computer users and companies.
From clearing out computer viruses to helping people understand new software, the computer support specialist helps people make good use of their computers and electronics. It is one of the lower-paying IT roles, but in 2018 there were 863,000 computer support specialist jobs, and it’s projected to grow faster than the average career over the next decade. Plus, it may be one of the easier jobs to and with an associate’s degree.
The fast track may be the right track
If you’re debating whether or not an associate’s degree is the right move for you, and you’re worried you won’t be able to land a job with it, rest easy. The IT field is growing and accessible to those with associate’s degrees.
If you’re ready to start working toward your new career in IT, the choice between a bachelor’s and associate’s degree is yours. You should be able to land a rewarding job with great pay either way. Good luck!
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