When considering career paths, many people believe that a four-year degree is the only way to secure a good job. However, there are numerous lucrative and fulfilling careers that you can start with just a two-year associate degree.

girl gets a 2 year degree
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

Here are some top jobs that require only a two-year degree, offering great opportunities for professional growth and good salaries.

1. Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Median Annual Salary: $75,330
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 9%
  • Description: Registered nurses provide patient care, educate patients about health conditions, and offer emotional support to patients and their families.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Dental Hygienist

  • Median Annual Salary: $77,090
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 11%
  • Description: Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases, and provide other preventive dental care.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Paralegal or Legal Assistant

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,920
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 12%
  • Description: Paralegals assist lawyers by maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

4. Radiologic Technologist

  • Median Annual Salary: $63,710
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 9%
  • Description: Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays, on patients.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5. Computer Support Specialist

  • Median Annual Salary: $55,510
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 9%
  • Description: Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

6. Respiratory Therapist

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,810
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 23%
  • Description: Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

7. Medical Sonographer

  • Median Annual Salary: $75,920
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 14%
  • Description: Diagnostic medical sonographers operate special imaging equipment to create images or conduct tests on patients.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

8. Air Traffic Controller

  • Median Annual Salary: $130,420
  • Job Growth (2020-2030): 4%
  • Description: Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of aircraft to ensure safe distances between them.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pursuing a two-year degree can be a smart and cost-effective way to enter a rewarding career. These roles not only offer competitive salaries but also provide opportunities for growth and advancement in their respective fields. If you’re looking to start your career without committing to four years of college, consider these promising options.

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