Educational attainment is a major determinant for how much Americans can expect to earn. In general, the more education and skills a job requires, the higher it tends to pay.
Many Americans choose to end their education with a high school diploma, while others go on to achieve a four-year bachelor’s degree. Some seek to gain a greater degree of specialization without committing to the time and cost of four years of college.
In that regard, associate degrees can lead to the acquisition of in-demand skills for specialized occupations – air traffic control and web development, for example – in just two years. While these jobs may not require a bachelor’s degree, they tend to pay significantly more than the typical job across all education levels.
The median annual wage for all occupations in the United States is $37,040. The annual wage of those with only a high school diploma is similar, at $37,110. Those with a two-year associate degree earn $51,050 a year. In fact, there are a number of occupations which typically do not require more than an associate degree that pay over $60,000.