A woman sitting on a couch with her laptop working on her associate of arts degree

If you’re ready to start off a new occupation or want to progress in your present-day discipline, attaining a broad-primarily based education and learning by way of an Associate of Arts program could help you reach your plans. But what is an Affiliate of Arts degree, and what can you do with a single?

An Associate of Arts (AA) degree is one particular of the most widespread varieties of two-calendar year degree packages. It provides a robust basis of typical instruction programs in subjects like crafting, humanities and social science and also provides key vocation abilities.

“The AA diploma prepares students with expertise that 21st-century companies look for in occupation candidates, like communication, significant contemplating, quantitative reasoning and technological literacy,” stated Calliope Pappadakis, a standard schooling instructor at Southern New Hampshire College (SNHU).

Earning an AA degree can give you the enhance you want to start off an remarkable profession across quite a few fields, which include social providers, organization, retail and much more. If you’re all set to kickstart your profession, an Associate of Arts diploma could support you access your ambitions.

What is an Associate of Arts Degree Plan Actually Like?

AA degree systems are designed for students who want to progress in their existing occupations, begin new occupations or lay a foundation for their upcoming education and learning.

Calliope Pappadakis with the text Calliope Pappadakis

For the reason that associate degrees are ordinarily two-year programs, they can enable you get the information and competencies you will need to start out your vocation a lot quicker than a bachelor’s diploma software.

“The AA degree could possibly be a improved decision for an individual who is not prepared to dedicate to the four-yr diploma, even if they are thinking about it in their long-time period targets,” said Pappadakis. “The AA degree aids you get your foot in the doorway, each skillfully and educationally.”

How A lot of Credit Hrs Do You Need to have for an AA Degree?

Associate degree packages normally demand 60 complete credits. Due to the fact an undergraduate class is commonly worthy of 3 credits, a 60-credit degree plan interprets into 20 courses. These courses are historically completed more than the span of two many years.

So, what is an Associate of Arts diploma software seriously likely to consider to complete? The true amount of classes expected and the time it will take to end an AA diploma can fluctuate noticeably from pupil to student.

Because much more college students are balancing get the job done and relatives obligations with their education and learning, a expanding variety of on line affiliate degree plans supply additional adaptability to generate a diploma at your personal pace.

If you happen to be doing the job whole-time whilst pursuing your degree, it may perhaps just take you for a longer time than two several years to comprehensive the plan. Whilst not typically expected for AA degree programs, gaining serious-world discovering knowledge via internships may possibly also increase more credit hours to your degree.

But even though some students may well acquire more time than two many years to complete an AA program, some others can gain their degree even more rapidly. Since common education and learning classes make up a huge part of the Associate of Arts system, learners with previous academic knowledge can frequently implement transfer credits toward their system specifications. Some degree applications could even give credit rating for specialist knowledge, stated Pappadakis.

What Can You Research in an AA Degree System?

A wide assortment of Affiliate of Arts diploma systems are offered to help you access your personalized job targets. Two examples of AA diploma programs contain liberal arts and digital photography.

AA in Liberal Arts

In a liberal arts associate degree program, you can get the standard instruction and profession skills you need to have to look for entry-amount positions in business, social solutions, administration or management positions. You’ll get an introduction to arts and culture and begin to much better realize your location in the earth about you.

This wide-centered degree software can assist you get beneficial crafting, computational and specialized competencies as you check out a selection of issue parts, together with:

  • Humanities and historical past
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Technology and math

You can also gain critical important considering and trouble-resolving techniques as you understand to analyze difficulties from all angles, research remedies and talk your findings to a assortment of audiences.

AA in Digital Images

With a digital images affiliate diploma, you can blend the benefits of a liberal arts training with necessary technical and creative images techniques.

Alongside with common education courses in writing, communication and social sciences, you can investigate design and style principle, study how to use mild and coloration and get important write-up-manufacturing editing abilities to process digital photos.

Other matters of analyze may possibly include things like:

  • Media communication
  • Visual literacy
  • Background of pictures

If you desire of jogging your very own pictures studio, an Affiliate of Arts degree can also provide you with business enterprise awareness to aid you get your job up and functioning after graduation.

No issue what you select to analyze in an AA degree system, you are going to have the possibility to check out a vast variety of subject areas and get precious skills by way of typical education and learning programs.

Associate of Arts diploma systems also typically include things like various elective programs. This means you can tailor your diploma to your particular pursuits and job targets and graduate with the know-how and competencies you have to have to request your aspiration occupation.

Which is Greater, an AA or an AS Degree?

If you are considering an AA diploma, you could be wondering about other associate degrees and if some are greater than other folks.

There are two main types of affiliate degrees available: an Associate of Arts (AA) and an Associate of Science (AS).

An AA diploma normally focuses on liberal arts topics, including social sciences, humanities, style and design and additional. Developing profession techniques is a concentrate of AA degree plans, and students can go on to many entry-stage positions in human providers, communications and administrative roles.

An AS diploma is also a two-yr software. Though there is even now a target on liberal arts subjects as a result of general instruction classes, diploma-unique programs ordinarily concentration on company, technological know-how or functional sciences, based on the precise software.

Choosing which kind of associate degree is correct for you is significantly less about one software being improved than the other and a lot more about how they each individual prepare you to achieve your personal and qualified goals, mentioned Pappadakis.

“The AA and AS are both of those valuable levels as they strengthen students’ authentic-environment capabilities and prepare learners for both of those particular and qualified results,” she mentioned. “Both degrees give pupils the possibility to attain expertise that are useful in today’s workforce, and both get ready students for a new vocation or occupation improvement.”

It’s crucial to discover the sorts of work opportunities you can get with an associate degree and how they align with your qualified targets to decide which software is suitable for you.

What is an Affiliate of Arts Diploma Employed For?

AA degrees offer a sturdy basis of job competencies that companies are looking for throughout a lot of industries. Earning an associate diploma could enable enhance your life span earnings and work potential clients.

“The AA degree is a stepping stone for students wanting to mature in a occupation the place their present-day employer requires some postsecondary schooling,” stated Pappadakis.

By means of the broad-dependent education and learning of an AA method, you can produce skills such as:

  • Essential imagining
  • Difficulty-resolving
  • Determination creating
  • Interaction
  • Collaboration

Though the unique employment you can get with an AA degree will vary depending on your distinct region of study, these capabilities can enable you stand out to businesses and get a fulfilling position across lots of industries.

What Work Can You Get With an Associate of Arts Diploma?

In accordance to details from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Data (BLS), doable work opportunities for AA degree holders include things like:

  • Administrative assistant: Manage business enterprise operations and retain an place of work running smoothly by helping with paperwork, scheduling conferences and being the office’s initially place of get hold of. In 2020, administrative assistants earned a median once-a-year wage of $40,990, according to BLS facts.
  • Client services agent: Assist clients on line, above the mobile phone or in particular person by answering thoughts and responding to complaints about a business and its items or solutions. According to BLS, the median wage for client support reps in 2020 was $17.23 for each hour – an once-a-year wage of about $35,000 for entire-time workers.
  • Food provider supervisor: Oversee the each day functions of a bar, restaurant, resort or cafeteria. If you have labored in the services business prior to, management positions can enable you progress your profession. Meals company administrators gained a median once-a-year wage of $56,590 in 2020, in accordance to BLS facts.
  • Information clerk: Execute clerical responsibilities this sort of as planning regimen reviews, payments, statements, payments or orders for an corporation. Manage data for a business enterprise and supply details to corporation employees and consumers. According to BLS, information clerks earned a median once-a-year wage of $36,920 in 2020.
  • Social and human company assistant: Offer expert services to persons and people, aid social employees and other human assistance gurus and hook up shoppers with community companies. In 2020, social and human services assistants attained a median annual wage of $35,960, according to BLS details.
  • Photographer: Use your technical knowledge and creative imagination to develop, edit and protect images that notify a tale or report an event. Employment are accessible in aerial pictures, professional pictures, portrait images, party pictures and more. In accordance to BLS details, photographers attained a median wage of $19.85 per hour – or about $41,288 yearly for full-time personnel.
  • Preschool instructor: Teach and treatment for kids in preschools, daycare centers and other related configurations. Educate language, motor and social capabilities and provide for children’s well being and security. In 2020, preschool instructors acquired a median income of $31,930. [Note: some states may require licensure or other credentials for preschool teachers.]

Is an Associate of Arts Diploma Worth It?

In a lot of fields, an associate diploma is ample to get began in entry-stage positions. If you presently have specialist encounter in your decided on area, earning an AA degree might also be plenty of to pursue higher-level leadership positions and advance your job.

“More and extra employers are necessitating some form of postsecondary training, and in lots of scenarios, a two-year diploma is sufficient and offers graduates an possibility to advance in their vocation or launch into a new a person,” said Pappadakis.

In accordance to the BLS, affiliate degree holders earned about 20% additional for each week in 2020 than staff with only a large college diploma. Associate degree holders also knowledgeable lower unemployment costs, at 7.1% for associate diploma holders as opposed to 9% for superior school graduates without having any college or university experience.

Jobs for affiliate diploma holders are also increasing. According to BLS facts, jobs requiring at minimum an associate diploma are anticipated to rise 6.2% from 2019-2029.

An AA degree can also established you up for achievement in a four-calendar year bachelor’s degree system, which can enable you progress your instruction and career even further. 

“The AA diploma can serve as a significant milestone to another person who is thinking about a bachelor’s degree, as it is the equal to the first two yrs of the four-calendar year diploma,” reported Pappadakis.

What Bachelor’s Degree Can I Get With an Associate in Arts?

An AA degree is a terrific 1st step towards nearly any bachelor’s diploma. For the reason that a substantial part of the AA diploma is composed of normal instruction programs, you are going to possible be ready to transfer those credits to a bachelor’s diploma method.

“Students can transfer fairly quickly into bachelor’s programs should they make your mind up to in the upcoming,” mentioned Pappadakis.

Based on the bachelor’s system you are seeking, you could will need to just take some prerequisite lessons before officially starting to operate towards your degree. But in most scenarios, you are going to be capable to start off your bachelor’s diploma with your general schooling programs now finished. This implies you can get started out on your application courses quicker and graduate with your 4-year degree sooner.

And if you close up pausing your schooling prior to finishing the 4-year degree, you are going to nonetheless have your Affiliate of Arts credential to help your vocation. According to BLS info, men and women with an affiliate diploma have better earning and qualified potential than staff who have taken some college programs without finishing any degree.

Why Gain an Associate of Arts Diploma?

Now that you’ve explored the ins and outs of an AA degree, you may possibly nevertheless be thinking if this educational path is appropriate for you. So, what is an Associate of Arts diploma truly superior for?

In accordance to Pappadakis, there are several direct vocation advantages for college students.

“Many careers nowadays involve an associate degree, so for someone searching to be part of the workforce, the AA degree can improve their marketability and occupation candidacy,” mentioned Pappadakis.

Possibly you don’t will need a 4-12 months degree to advance your occupation in your chosen subject. Or possibly you’re just not confident what your contacting is and are not completely ready to dedicate to a four-12 months diploma.

No make any difference your causes for pursuing a two-year diploma plan, an AA degree is a credential that can open up a lot of doors.

“Students acquire competencies that are in superior need right now, like conversation, intercultural information and abilities that are portion of lifelong finding out and empower students to choose handle of their individual mastering and check out the planet with curiosity and reflection,” mentioned Pappadakis.

Danielle Gagnon is a freelance writer targeted on increased education. Connect with her on LinkedIn.