The Fastest Growing Jobs With an Associate Degree

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts these occupations will grow faster, through 2020, than other occupations that, like them, require an associate degree or similar level of training. Plan to spend about two years enrolled in a formal educational program at a community college or a vocational or technical school.

Do not choose an occupation simply because it appears on this list or any other best careers list. It's important to pick a career that has a promising future, but unless you make sure it is a good fit for you, you are much less likely to succeed in it. Carefully explore your career options by examining job descriptions.

Once you have done that, conduct informational interviews with people who work in the occupations in which you are most interested. Learn about your interests, personality type, aptitude, and values by doing a self-assessment. Then make sure the career you are considering matches well with those characteristics.

The median wage is shown here to give you an idea of what you might earn if you worked in these fields. Earnings vary by employer and depend on factors including level of experience and training, and location. Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to learn about salaries and wages where you live and work.

Sources: CareerOneStop, Fastest-Growing OccupationsOccupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013, O*NET OnLine

1
Veterinary Technicians

A veterinary technician holds a dog while a vet examines it.
A veterinary technician assists a vet with a dog. Thinkstock / Stockbytes / Getty Images

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians by conducting clinical and laboratory procedures in private clinics and animal hospitals. Employment is expected to increase by 52% through 2020. Vet techs earned a median annual salary of $30,140 and median hourly wages of $14.49 in 2011. More

2
Physical Therapist Assistants

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs), under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, treat patients by helping them perform exercises, administering electric stimulation and using massage, and stretching. There is expected to be a 46% growth in employment of physical therapist assistants through 2020. Their median annual salary was $51,040 and median hourly wages were $24.54 in 2011. More

3
Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound technicians help diagnose patients' illnesses by using special equipment that emits sound waves. Employment is projected to grow by 44% through 2020. They earned a median annual salary of $65,210 and median hourly wages of $31.35 in 2011. More

4
Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs), under occupational therapists' supervision, help clients regain the ability to perform daily living and work activities. There is expected to be a 43% increase in employment through 2020. In 2011, median annual earnings were $52,040 and median hourly wages were $25.02. More

5
Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists provide preventative dental care and teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They typically work in dentists' offices. We can expect to see a 38% increase in employment through 2020. Hygienists earned a median annual salary of $69,280 and median hourly wages of $33.31 in 2011. More

6
Biomedical Equipment Technician

Biomedical equipment technicians repair equipment used in hospitals or other health care facilities. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 32% through 2020. The median annual salary was $44,870 and median hourly wages were $21.57 in 2011. More

7
Radio, Cellular and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers

Radio, cellular and tower equipment installers and repairers work with equipment used in radio transmissions, cellular telecommunications, mobile broadband, ship-to-shore communications, aircraft-to-ground communications, as well as two-way radios used in emergency vehicles. There is expected to be a 29% increase in employment through 2020. The median annual salary, in 2011, was $44,870 and median hourly wages were $21.57. More

8
Cardiovascular Technologists

Cardiovascular technologists use invasive and non-invasive procedures to help doctors diagnose and treat coronary and vascular problems. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 29% through 2020. In 2011, they earned median annual earnings of $51,020 and median hourly wages of $24.53. More

9
Radiologic Technicians

Radiologic technicians use special imaging equipment, such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and mammograms, to diagnose injuries and diseases. They can expect to see 28% growth in employment through 2020. In 2011, the median annual salary in this field was $55,120 and median hourly wages were $26.50. More

10
Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists, in consultation with doctors, develop treatment plans for patients who have breathing or cardiopulmonary problems. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 28% through 2020. Respiratory therapists earned a median annual salary of $55,250 and median hourly wages of $26.56 in 2011. More

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by