Prospective college students are often pushed toward four-year degrees in their search for further education. With this pressure in mind, the typical college applicant might ask, “What can you do with an Associate of Arts degree?” An Associate of Arts degree takes up to two years to complete but unlocks professions without the costs of a bachelor’s degree. This degree can act as a bridge to a bachelor’s degree with two-year courses counting toward four-year requirements.
An online associate degree program like the Online Associate of Arts from Central Christian College of Kansas allows students to balance school with work and family. Distance learners can complete courses around their schedules and reduce their course loads with credit transfers. As a student starts down this path, it is helpful to know the best Associate of Arts degree jobs based on salary and job satisfaction.
Benefits of an Associate of Arts Degree
The primary benefit of an Associate of Arts degree is the return on investment. Associate of Arts degrees help ambitious professionals jump into new careers on short timetables. In two years, a student can go from their first class to their first day on the job. Associate degree programs also focus on marketable skills that translate easily to the workplace. PayScale found an average salary of $51,000 for an Associate of Arts degree holders in 2019.The following Associate of Arts degree jobs earn higher-than-average salaries and provide ample challenges to degree holders.
Art directors conceive of the visual backgrounds in our daily lives. When we see book covers, product labels, or TV ads, we encounter the work of an art director. A company that develops advertising and promotional materials employs an art director to initiate the production process. Art directors work with graphic designers and visual artists to create storyboards of visual design products. Successful directors possess detailed knowledge of past creative projects, visual products used by competitors, and the narratives desired by their employers.
Creative professionals who want to become art directors need strong managerial and communication skills. Associate of Arts degrees along with portfolios of successful projects demonstrate qualifications necessary for future leadership positions. Art directors often use their associate degrees as launchpads to further education in the field that improves salary outcomes. The typical salary for an art director in 2019 was $65,475 with experienced directors earning $100,000 per year.
Building a residential or commercial property can be a thorny process due to limited finances and zoning regulations. A construction superintendent works with all of the parties involved in a building project to achieve their goals. Superintendents oversee contractor bidding processes and ensure that contractors are complying with construction plans. In this position, a professional needs to work with clients to meet their expectations within their budgets. In a typical day, a superintendent might schedule a walk-through by an inspector, track down building supplies, and review daily expenses.
PayScale found an average salary of $75,506 for construction superintendents in 2019. Superintendents working on big-budget projects might earn up to $113,000 per year. A superintendent career can be built through years of work in the construction industry plus an Associate of Arts degree. This career path provides a rewarding and challenging answer to the question, “What can you do with an Associate of Arts degree?”
Customer Service Manager
Every business needs good customer service to keep customers and develop a good reputation. Customer service managers lead armies of call center workers and support staff who each make hundreds of contact points each day. Given frequent personnel changes, a customer service manager needs to excel at recruiting and training staff to serve customers. Managers work with their supervisors to create hiring, training, and customer contact procedures that ensure positive experiences for all involved.
The most common route to a customer service management role is to gain promotion from junior positions. An aspiring manager can improve their chances of promotion with an Associate of Arts degree. By receiving an Associate of Arts degree online, customer service professionals learn the business skills that set managers apart from their direct reports. The typical customer service manager with an associate degree earned $56,095 per year. Successful managers can earn up to $82,000.
From corporate kitchens to fine-dining restaurants, executive chefs oversee every meal that is placed in front of diners. Executive chefs are charged with developing and preparing menus that appeal to their clientele. These menus must fit within restaurant themes, monthly budgets, and the capabilities of the kitchen staff. Executive chefs also oversee staff hiring and training, an important skill in a high-turnover industry. An Associate of Arts degree plus kitchen experience can lead to an executive position in short order.
The average salary for an executive chef with an associate degree was $59,853 in 2019. Experienced chefs can earn up to $89,000 per year. This salary accounts for the managerial and technical skills required by culinary leaders.
Senior Graphic Designer
Advertising and marketing firms deploy graphic design teams to create the visual components seen by millions of people. In each team, a senior graphic designer works with junior designers and freelancers to bring ideas to life. Senior designers review multiple drafts of print and digital products before delivering finished items to clients. Design leaders are not given blank checks to carry out their work; rather, advertising budgets, technical capabilities, and in-house styles factor into design projects.
The path to a senior graphic designer position starts with freelance and entry-level design projects. Art, design, and business courses in an associate degree program can channel a designer’s creativity into a successful career. Senior graphic designers earned an average of $60,759 in 2019 with experienced designers earning up to $85,000.
Human Resources Manager
Human resources (HR) managers handle the recruiting, training, and development of personnel in companies big and small. An HR manager is responsible for facilitating conversations about salaries, benefits, and personnel needs. This managerial position works with department heads and executives to create personnel guidelines that comply with legal requirements. HR managers also research industry best practices, policies used by competitors, and staff surveys when developing policies.
An important prerequisite for HR managerial positions is professional experience. Payroll assistants, trainers, and other HR staffers combine their backgrounds with Associate of Arts degrees to enhance career prospects. PayScale published an average salary of $66,220 for HR managers in 2019 with an upper-level salary of $93,000.
Every production facility features multiple managers to ensure daily production levels are achieved. Production managers develop schedules for workers that take into consideration facility hours, available staffing, and manufacturing cycles. Factory workers are trained by production managers to complete their tasks while complying with company standards and safety policies. A production manager works with the human resources team to fill personnel needs and handle conflicts. Facility owners provide feedback to managers based on output, safety incidents, and overall costs.
Companies look for production managers with manufacturing experience along with business expertise. An Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in business can fulfill the latter requirement for professionals in production positions. The typical salary for a production manager was $69,984 in 2019. Successful managers could earn up to $100,000.
Regional Sales Manager
A company’s sales team is a hierarchy built on local and regional offices. Regional sales managers are hired to motivate local sales managers and their staff members to achieve better results. A regional manager receives feedback from their supervisor about the company’s weekly, monthly, and annual sales expectations. Managers try to meet or exceed these goals by training sales personnel, coordinating marketing campaigns, and finding new motivational techniques.
Sales representatives can use their job experiences and Associate of Arts degrees to reach managerial positions. Associate of Arts programs typically include business courses or concentrations that cover the latest sales and marketing techniques. These skills led regional sales managers to earn average salaries of $80,931 in 2019 with high-end salaries of $123,000.
Companies need systems administrators to oversee their computer hardware and software. A systems administrator stays updated on the latest data security threats and tools to ensure the safety of proprietary information. On a daily basis, systems administrators might run software updates, replace computer towers and laptops, and train staff on newly installed software.
The most successful administrators are obsessed with new technology and focused on leveraging its capabilities for their employers. An Associate of Arts degree trains future systems experts the organizational and communication skills necessary for this role. PayScale found an average salary of $61,502 for systems administrators in 2019. The top earners in this occupation earned $87,000.
Readers of this list of Associate of Arts degree jobs are viewing the work of a web developer. Web developers create websites using programming languages like HTML and CSS. Employers also ask developers to update content, resolve coding issues, and research new features that can improve user experiences. Developers might also work with clients and customers to understand how future iterations of web pages can be enhanced.
The average salary for a web developer in 2019 was $58,999. High-performing developers can earn up to $86,000 per year based on their technical skills. Web developers often start their careers in entry-level support positions and consulting roles. An Associate of Arts degree can turn freelancing and entry-level work into a well-paying career.
Preparing for Top Jobs
Working professionals might feel stressed thinking about fitting associate degree courses into their busy schedules. It is possible to prepare for an Associate of Arts degree jobs with minimal disruption to work, family, and other time commitments. Central Christian College of Kansas offers a 100% online associate degree program with elective tracks in Business, Psychology, Healthcare Management, Leadership, Business Management and Accounting to train for future careers.