dcsimg
Print
Email

Top 15 Highest-Paying Online Associate Degrees in 2019

Methodologies and Sources

Methodology

For this analysis, we ranked 86 online associate degrees. To be included in the ranking, each major had to:

  • Match to a corresponding code in the Classification of Instructional Programs
  • Be offered online at the associate level at five or more institutions

We scored each major on the following data points, using a 10-point scale and the weights specified:

  1. Annual median salary of each occupation matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
  2. Annual 25th percentile wage of each occupation matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
  3. No. of schools offering this degree online at the associate level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
  4. Average projected growth rate of all jobs matched to each major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-26
  5. Total number of jobs projected in 10 years of all occupations matched to the major, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016-26

All sources accessed January 2019

  • 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2016-26 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • 29-2034 Radiologic Technologists, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2018, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm#st
  • A.S. Computer Science, Franklin University,https://www.franklin.edu/degrees/associates/computer-science
  • AS in Web Design and Development, Champlain College,https://www.champlain.edu/online/associate-degrees/as-web-design-and-development/program-at-a-glance
  • Associate of Applied Science - Electrical or Electronic Engineering Technology, Kent State University, https://www.kent.edu/trumbull/associate-applied-science-electrical-or-electronic-engineering-technology
  • Associate of Science of the Radiation Therapy, Argosy University,https://www.argosy.edu/health-sciences/associate-of-science-in-radiation-therapy
  • Career: Computer Support Specialists, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/computers-math-computer-support-specialists
  • Career: Dental Hygienists, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/health-technology-dental-hygienists
  • Career: Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/computers-math-network-computer-systems-administrators
  • Career: Radiation Therapists, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/careers/health-diagnosis-treatment-radiation-therapists
  • Computer Engineering Technology/Technician, IPEDS, NCES,https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87775
  • Computer Programming and Analysis Associate in Science, St. Petersburg College, http://www.spcollege.edu/future-students/degrees-training/technology/computer-programming-and-analysis/computer-programming-and-analysis-as-degree
  • Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications, IPEDS, NCES,https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87259
  • Computer Systems Technology, Monroe Community College,http://www.monroecc.edu/academics/majors-programs/stem/computer-systems-technology-associate-of-applied-science/
  • Computer Technology, Rio Salado College,http://www.riosalado.edu/programs/computers/Pages/aas.aspx
  • Computer Technology/Computer Systems Technology, IPEDS, NCES,https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87327
  • Cybersecurity, Central Texas College,https://www.ctcd.edu/academics/programs-of-study/explore-academic-programs/business-and-business-technology/cybersecurity/
  • Decker, F., Radiographer vs. Radiation Therapist, Work - Chron.com,http://work.chron.com/radiographer-vs-radiation-therapist-7333.html
  • Dental Hygiene - AAS, Phoenix College, https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/programs/dental-hygiene
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineering-technicians.htm
  • Electrical Engineering Technology, Associate of Applied Science Degree, ITT Technical Institute,http://itt-tech.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/011-IND-12-05-14-01-01-15-Vol-103.pdf
  • Electronic Engineering Technology (Associate of Applied Science), The University of Akron, https://www.uakron.edu/academics_majors/undergraduate/programs_detail.dot?programId=83130&pageTitle=Undergraduate%20Programs&crumbTitle=Electronic%20Engineering%20Technology%20(Associate%20Degree)
  • Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology (Associate of Science), Grantham University,https://www.grantham.edu/online-degrees/electronics-computer-technology/?tab-overview
  • Electronics Engineering Technician, Richmond Community College,http://richmondcc.edu/sites/default/files/cat_pgs_18-19_a40200_electronics_eng_tech.pdf
  • How Much does an Electronics Engineering Technician Make?, ECPI University, https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/how-much-does-an-electronics-engineering-technician-make
  • How to Know If a Networking Systems Administration Degree is Right for You, Florida National University, 2016,https://www.fnu.edu/networking-systems-administration-degree/
  • Information Security Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
  • Information Systems Security and Assurance Associate Degree, Vista College, https://www.vistacollege.edu/degree-programs/technology/information-systems-security-assurance-associate-applied-science/
  • IT - Computer Support Specialist, Northcentral Technical College, https://www.ntc.edu/academics-training/programs/all/associate-degree/it-computer-support-specialist
  • Joyner, J., Radiology Vs. Radiography. Work - Chron.com,http://work.chron.com/radiology-vs-radiography-5317.html
  • Major: Computer Engineering, General, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-engineering-general
  • Major: Computer Networking and Telecommunications, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-networking-telecommunications
  • Major: Computer Programming, General, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-programming-general
  • Major: Computer Science, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-science
  • Major: Computer Support Specialist, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-computer-support-specialist
  • Major: Dental Hygiene, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/health-professions-related-clinical-sciences-dental-hygiene
  • Major: Electrical Engineering Technology, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/engineering-technologies-electrical-engineering-technology
  • Major: Medical Radiologic Technology, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/health-professions-related-clinical-sciences-allied-health-diagnosis-intervention-treatment-medical-radiologic-technology
  • Major: Network and System Administration, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-network-system-administration
  • Major: Web Development, Big Future, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-web-development
  • Major: Web Management, Big Future, The College Board,https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/computer-information-sciences-web-management
  • Network Administrator and Support AAS, North Lake College,https://www1.dcccd.edu/catalog/programs/degree.cfm?degree=network_admin_supp_aas&loc=NLC
  • Network Administrator Information, The Balance Careers, 2019, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/network-administrator-525818
  • Network and System Administration/Administrator, IPEDS, NCES, https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87261
  • Network Systems Administrator, Associate of Applied Science Degree, Central Texas College,https://www.ctcd.edu/academics/programs-of-study/explore-academic-programs/business-and-business-technology/network-systems-administration/
  • Networking System Administrator, Florida National University, https://www.fnu.edu/prospective-students/our-programs/select-a-program/associates-of-science-degree-programs/networking-systems-administrator-nsa/
  • Radiation Therapy, Washburn University, https://washburn.edu/academics/college-schools/applied-studies/departments/allied-health/xt/index.html
  • Radiologic Technology Degree, Harper College, https://www.harpercollege.edu/academics/health/radiologic-technology/radiology-degree.php
  • Sindhu, Top 5 Trends in the Electronics Industry, Market research.com, 2017, https://blog.marketresearch.com/top-5-trends-in-the-electronics-industry
  • Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs: High School, Middle Skills, and Bachelor's Degree, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2018, https://1gyhoq479ufd3yna29x7ubjn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/3ways-FR.pdf
  • Top 10 Technology Trends for 2018: IEEE Computer Society Predicts the Future of Tech, PRNewswire, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/top-10-technology-trends-for-2018-ieee-computer-society-predicts-the-future-of-tech-300571274.html
  • Web Developers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
  • Web Development (AAT), Clark College, https://catalog.clark.edu//academic-plans/computer-technology/web-development-aat/
  • Webmaster, Techopedia,https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4932/webmaster
  • What is a Network Administrator vs. a System Administrator?, American Intercontinental University,https://www.aiuniv.edu/degrees/information-technology/articles/network-administrator
X

Good jobs, according to a study by Georgetown University, can be defined as those that pay an annual wage of at least $35,000 for workers aged 25-44 and a minimum of $45,000 for workers aged 45-64. Such "good" jobs for holders of associate degrees grew by 83 percent from 1991 to 2016.

However, if you're someone who's looking for something better than "good" then have we got the list for you! Below is a list of the top associate degrees programs you can earn online that can yield better than "good" earnings.

Whether you're a working professional or a stay-at-home parent with a high school diploma, looking to qualify for higher-paying jobs, online programs can be right for you. Such programs can give you full control over your study schedule because classes can be taken from anywhere, and at any time. Due to the field of study, however, some online associate degree programs may have practical classes that may require you to be on-campus or at an approved center.

From the bottom up, here's our list of the top 15 online associate degrees with the highest earning potential. Please take a look at our methodology at the end of this article that can help explain why we believe these are the top-paying associate degrees for maximizing your degree investment.

15
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologies/Technicians 
Electronic Engineering Technologies

Electrical and electronic engineering technicians help electrical engineering bring their ideas to life using their designing, drafting and technical skills. Individuals studying for these degrees learn principles of engineering, electronics, science and math in order solve technical problems making a curiosity to know how things work an important trait.

Coursework can include electrical and electronic drawing, physics, technical mathematics, calculus, electrical circuits, machinery and controls and industrial electronics. Electrical and electronic engineering technicians can find jobs in a number of different industries including manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media, semiconductor and other electronic components, computer and electronic products, audio and video equipment and communication equipment.

Interesting Fact: Among technicians, those working in the utilities industry may be able to earn higher than average wages.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $63,660
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 139,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 2%
14
Network and System Administration/Administrator
Network and System Administration

This degree program has some overlap with the computer systems networking and telecommunications degree program. Network and systems administrators manage the computer operations and control the system configurations in a specific location while computer systems networking professionals are involved in the design and implementation of computers and computer systems. Network and systems administrators may need to be able to juggle many responsibilities simultaneously.

Coursework for these programs include JAVA and web programming, local area (LAN) and wide area (WAN) networking, operating systems and database management systems.

Interesting Fact: "Skilled in sharing information with peers" is the actual wording from a job announcement for network and system administrators showing that communication is an important soft skill to develop in this field.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $62,340
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 214,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 8.1
13
Computer Technology/Computer Systems Technology
Computer Technology

While computer engineering technicians use their knowledge of electrical engineering to repair computers, computer systems, technology professionals use their knowledge of systems, hardware and software technologies to troubleshoot and repair computer and computer network related problems. They can work as a technical support system for users of professionals using computer systems. Computer systems technology professionals need to be able to work effectively in teams and be able to analyze problems critically.

Coursework includes topics on basic computer design and architecture, hardware and software problem diagnosis, micro controller assembly and computer applications issues.

Interesting Fact: Computer systems technology principles can be applied in cutting-edge fields like robotics where technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing sci-fi to life!

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $63,660
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 139,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 2
12
Computer Engineering Technology/Technician
Computer Engineering Technology

Computer engineering technicians use their knowledge of electrical engineering and computer sciences to analyze, install, troubleshoot and repair computer systems. They can also support computer engineers while they design and build new hardware and software systems. Due to the nature of their work, they need to be able to work independently and in teams. Being excited by new inventions and creating innovative solutions is a bonus. Computer engineering technology programs involve courses in electrical circuitry, microprocessor systems engineering, prototype development, systems development and testing, and computer programming. Communication skills also play an important role as they need to able to communicate their findings clearly when analyzing and troubleshooting systems.

Interesting Fact: A technical writing course can help you learn to prepare concise reports for your superiors or clients. It can add a soft skill to your resume that is highly valued by employers in the field of computer engineering technology.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $63,660
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 139,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 2%
11
Computer Support Specialist
Computer Support Specialist

Remember that old joke where a computer support specialist goes through a list of troubleshooting problems before finally asking "Is your computer plugged in, sir?" Computer support specialists are the go-to-guys when users face problems with their devices. Individuals who are tech-minded and enjoy solving problems can make great computer support specialists. Having a lot of patience can help too, as you may have to deal with irate customers.

These associate degree programs involve courses on hardware, software applications, operating systems, networks as well as customer service. Not all computer support specialists have to deal with irate customers. Many work within organizations to help train staff to use new software and troubleshoot problems within an office.

Interesting Fact: This field is continually evolving, which is why computer support specialists need to keep learning to stay abreast with the latest tech or risk being outdated.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $62,340
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 214,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 8.1%
10
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Computer and Information Systems Security

Computer networking is imperative in the business world today. How secure these systems are is just as important. Information security professionals need to know how to keep computer hardware, software and systems secure so information is kept safe from prying eyes but is still easy to access. Cybersecurity professionals need to be detail-oriented and innovative in order to anticipate security risks and come up with solutions before threats occur.

Associate degree programs involve instruction in network administration, programming, building and maintaining firewalls, security assessment and auditing.

Interesting Fact: Jobs may be found in banks, financial institutions and healthcare as these industries are likely to increase their information security capabilities as the threat of cyberattacks grows.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $62,340
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 214,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 8.1%
9
Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiographer
Radiographers

Have you ever broken a bone and had to have an x-ray? The person taking your x-ray is a radiographer. Radiographers generate diagnostic images using X-rays. They need to position their patients correctly so that the images are clear and useful. Radiographers need to be strong as they may need to lift patients to position them correctly. They also need to be analytical and good with details.

Coursework involves instruction in medical terminology, radiographic physics, procedures, clinical practices, anatomy and physiology. X-rays can be extremely dangerous in high quantities, making clinical practice an important part of a radiographer's education.

Interesting Fact: Radiographers tell patients about the procedures they perform to take the x-ray but the diagnosis is left to the patients' physician or radiologist who is qualified to do so.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $58,440
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 230,400
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 12.3%
8
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications

It's not just computers that businesses rely on. In today's connected world, computers need to be able to communicate with each other so that data can be stored securely and transmitted. Computer networking technicians set up, maintain and troubleshoot systems for organizations. Individuals who like solving problems and can work fast can do well with a computer systems networking and telecommunications degree. Coursework includes information sciences, telecommunications management, VOIP, computer programming and e-security protocols.

Interesting Fact: Although these degree programs are about how computers communicate with each other, understanding how people communicate can be an asset as you may have to explain technical terms to people who do not have technical knowledge.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $62,340
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 214,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 8.1%
7
Electrical,Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician
Electronic engineering technician

Do you like pulling gadgets apart and seeing what makes them tick? If so, a major in electrical, electronic and communications engineering technology could be the one for you. Electric technicians use their knowledge of engineering principles and their technical skills to design, build, test, repair, and modify equipment and systems.

Individuals with an affinity for math and science may enjoy the coursework which can include subjects like circuit analysis, hydraulics, microprocessors and analogue and digital electronics. Many electrical, electronic and communications engineering associate degree programs are hybrid as they require hands-on practice in laboratories.

Interesting Fact: There is likely to be a continuing demand for electrical and electronics engineering technicians due to the enduring integration of computer and electronics systems.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $63,660
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 139,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 2%
6
Web/Multimedia Management and Webmaster
WebMultimedia Management and Webmaster

Have you ever come across a 404 error saying page not found? Annoying isn't it? There is so much more to having a website than just putting it up on the internet. Content continually needs to be updated and the look changed periodically to keep it fresh and attractive. Webmasters make sure that websites are kept up-to-date and the servers are working. A webmaster's job can suit individuals who like working with computers on a regular basis and have the patience to solve errors as they occur.

Curricula for web management programs can involve programming languages, web server technology, multimedia development and web design.

Interesting Fact: Webmasters wear multiple hats and often develop the websites they host. After all, who better to host a website than the person who developed it?

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $67,990
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 184,200
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 13.1%
5
Computer Science
Computer Science

Nearly every business needs technology to operate and every new bit of digital technology needs creative thinkers who understand how computers work to develop it. Computer science degree programs can suit imaginative individuals who are precise and mathematical at the same time.

Courses taught can include topics like computer systems and networking, programming languages and database management systems. An associate degree in computer science can qualify you for a number of different entry-level job roles such as computer network support specialists.

Interesting Fact: Skills in listening, speaking and writing are essential qualities as computer science specialists often need to communicate with customers.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $65,165
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 399,000
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 10.6%
4
Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design
Web page Multimedia and Information Resources Design

Web developers create and design websites for their clients. Not only do they need to build them, but they need to make them user friendly and attractive at the same time. This requires a lot of patience and attention to minute details. As websites are not simple walls of text, web designers also need to know how to use and create graphics and other multimedia functions for the websites they build.

Coursework normally comprises of specific topics like digital image design, website design, internet and web architecture along with more general computer science topics like operating systems and networking fundamentals.

Interesting Fact: E-commerce might be a good topic to study along with web design as online shopping is likely to expand.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $67,990
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 184,200
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 13.1%
3
Computer Programming/Programmer 
Computer programming

With the digital revolution just around the corner, it's no surprise that a computer-related degree is among the top three of the best-paying online associate degrees. Computer programmers write the instructions computers need to carry out particular tasks using programming languages or code. As many computer programmers work in teams, each individual writing a part of the code, it helps to be a person who enjoys working with others and can communicate clearly.

Courses you study usually include one or more programming languages, computer operating systems and information systems.

Interesting Fact: Computer programming degree programs can often qualify you to obtain professional certifications in a programming language which can help enhance your credentials.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $65,165
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 399,000
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 10.6%
2
Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist
Medical Radiologic Technology

Medical radiologic technology is a vital part of many medical practices today. Radiation therapists use a variety of technologies, including x-ray technology, to deliver targeted doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Online medical radiologic technology programs can suit individuals who are organized, precise and analytical. It also helps to be a calm and confident person as you may deal with patients who are nervous or fearful on a regular basis.

Coursework typically includes topics on anatomy, physiology and pathology along with radiographic positioning and radiologic physics. You may have to attend clinical practice sessions as well.

Interesting Fact: California, Texas and Florida have the highest employment levels for radiologic technologists, according to BLS (2017).

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $69,505
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 251,700
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026: 12.1%
1
Dental Hygiene/Hygienist
Dental hygiene

Dental hygienists with an associate degree can provide entry-level dental hygiene services like oral health care assessments, applying cavity-preventive agents, administering local anesthetic along with the taking of, processing and analyzing of dental x-rays. Dental hygiene degree programs can suit individuals who are good with their hands, can put people at ease and of course, are comfortable with the thought of working with people's mouths.

Coursework for a dental hygiene degree program usually includes topics on dental anatomy and histology, radiography, dental diseases and practice management.

Interesting Fact: Most dental hygiene programs require you to hold a current CPR card for Health Care Provider or obtain one before the end of your program.

Data Points:

  • Early career median salary, 2017: $74,070
  • Projected total job openings, 2016-26: 248,800
  • Job growth 2016 - 2026:19.6%
Methodologies and Sources