Evaluating the best online colleges for associate’s degree programs helps you decide on a program that fits your situation and goals. When you are looking into your options, you may find an accelerated associate’s degree online program is the best way for you to take a first step into a professional career. To help prospective students understand what they can get from a fast track associate’s degree online, College Consensus has developed this guide to the Fastest Online Associate’s Degrees.
Benefits of an Accelerated Associate’s Degree Online
The advantages of fast track associate’s degree online programs depend on your long-term goals and your career objectives. As a working adult, you may find it difficult to set aside time for your degree, and have no time to take off from work to get a degree full-time. Accelerated online degree programs for working adults have specific advantages for your career aspirations and your needs.
The obvious advantage of the degree program is the amount of time you save. Traditional associate’s degree programs take around two years or longer to complete. When you go through an accelerated program, you finish an associate’s degree in 1 year. That means you can move forward with new opportunities at a fast pace. You save time when going through the process to complete your education.
When you take an accelerated associate’s degree program, you will notice that the classes are designed around a term system rather than a semester system. Terms are shorter than traditional 16-week semesters and last five to 12 weeks, depending on the program and class. The advantage of shorter class cycles is that you are getting through the material at a fast pace, and can fit more terms into a year.
An accelerated program may benefit individuals who find it difficult to take long breaks and then return to the classroom. An accelerated program has the benefit of a fast-paced environment. That means you are not taking months off for a long summer break and you take advantage of the time to complete your degree. It helps you stay on track for your goals without wasting months of your time or cutting into your concentration with extended breaks.
The final advantage to consider when looking into an accelerated program is the impact on your career. You can advance in your career at a faster pace when you have an associate’s degree. The fast pace of an accelerated program means you are moving forward in your job or career after a year rather than waiting two years. It gives you an edge when looking into job prospects because the available jobs in your field may change over time. An extra year in school is not always beneficial for opportunities in local areas. By going through an accelerated program, you will have chances to improve in an existing career or move into a new field.
Why an Online Program Makes Sense
Online associate’s degree programs make sense for a variety of reasons. The first consideration is flexibility. When you have responsibilities or obligations, you may not be able to attend a traditional university or college. Accelerated online degree programs for working adults recognize that you may need to study and work on tests during odd hours. By working with an online degree program, you are able to set up a schedule that fits your situation. You have greater flexibility for your classwork and can study at odd hours.
An online program still offers the comforts of interaction with your professors. You can ask questions or set up a time for personal discussion when you have concerns about the course material. You have options to communicate and interact with your professor at a time that fits your needs.
You also want to consider your career aspirations. An online degree program has the same impact on your career prospects as traditional college degrees. As long as the program is accredited in your field of study, employers view the degree as legitimate and acceptable for a position. It does not hinder your opportunities for your career.
In-Demand Occupations for an Associate’s Degree
When you decide to obtain an accelerated associate’s degree online, choose a degree that is in demand – one where employers are looking for qualified people, in a field that is growing. Online associate’s degrees that pay well depend on your field of study. The key is finding a career path that fits your interests and offers opportunities for your future.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Accounting and bookkeeping are important for any business. A company hires a bookkeeper to help with paperwork related to income and expenses. You may also work on basic tax paperwork for an employer, though you would not be working on the more complex accounting details.
The primary responsibility of a bookkeeper is keeping track of the financial records and information of a business or non-profit organization. You can also work in auditing, a company’s payroll, or an accounting firm. When you work in an accounting firm, you work under the guidance and direction of an accountant. You assist the accountant with his or her work. Bookkeepers can expect to make around $40,000, but the biggest draw is that a bookkeeping associate’s degree is a start to an accounting career – one of the most stable and best-paying occupations in the nation.
Working as a bookkeeper offers a wide array of job prospects. Since you can work for a business, a non-profit organization or an accounting firm, you have a variety of opportunities for your career after completing your online associate’s degree program.
Computer Programming/Web Development
If you enjoy technology and want to focus on fast track associate’s degree online programs that work in technology, then a computer programming or web development degree may fit your long-term goals. The computer science degree allows you to work as a computer programmer, a computer support specialist, or a computer system analyst.
Studying web development offers specialized skills and opportunities. The degree program allows you to work in any industry that needs websites and apps – which means every industry. You can also work in database security to reduce the risks to a business or company. Web development is also a skill that is easy to do on a freelance basis while you build an entrepreneurial career.
The advantage of computer programing and web development degree programs is the growth in your field. Computers and technology are constantly improving and changing. Businesses need specialized professionals to work on their security and computer system. Both aspects of computer science are an important part of any business or non-profit organization. By obtaining a degree in the field, you will have a competitive edge to start working on your career.
An online associate’s degree in nursing offers opportunities for your career. After you complete your degree and obtain your license, you can work as a nurse in a variety of environments. You can work as a registered nurse in a medical facility or hospital. You can also work in outpatient care or work as a personal care nurse.
The job prospects in nursing are growing. Expected growth is around 12% in nursing due to the demand for medical professionals, the growing population, and the number of nurses who plan to retire. By obtaining an online associate’s degree in nursing, you can work in the medical field, insurance, schools, or home healthcare services.
Nursing is an in-demand associate’s degree and you have career opportunities when you finish your degree and obtain your license. The key is deciding on the career that fits your interests within the field of nursing.
Paralegal and Legal Assistants
When you want to work in the legal field, you may find that a paralegal degree is a good way to start in your career. Paralegal associate’s degrees through an accelerated online program allow you to start working as a legal assistant or a paralegal under the guidance of a lawyer.
The average income for a paralegal is higher than the average for many other fields. It’s estimated that the average salary is close to $50,000 per year when you have an associate’s degree. Since it is also a growing field with job growth around 15%, which is higher than average for most fields and careers, you have job prospects in many locations.
Accelerated associate’s degree online programs for paralegal studies allow you to start working under a lawyer after only a year. When you finish associate’s degree in 1 year and move into your career, you will start assisting a lawyer with research and legal paperwork.
Is Financial Aid Available for an Online Accelerated Associate’s Degree?
When you decide to look at the best online colleges for associate’s degree programs, you want to make sure it fits your budget. A key part of identifying the right college or university is evaluating the financial aid available for the program. An online accelerated associate’s degree program may have options for financial aid; however, the options available through a specific college depend on their process.
Many colleges that allow students to take online and traditional classes will accept financial aid through the government program FAFSA. The federal program may offer student loans, scholarships, or grants. Keep in mind that the financial aid through FAFSA depends on your income level or your family’s income. If you qualify for a scholarship, you may still need a loan to cover additional costs.
Scholarships and grants through the college may apply to an online accelerated associate’s degree program. You should be aware that if the scholarship is through the college or university, you need to evaluate their standards and requirements. In some cases, the scholarship is based on academic performance. In other situations, the scholarships focus on accomplishing a specific task. Some colleges may offer a scholarship for community services. Others may offer scholarships when you win an essay writing competition. You will want to look into the details before you determine if you quality for a scholarship through your college or university.
Job Market Prospects for Accelerated Associate’s Degrees
The job market for an accelerated associate’s degree program depend on your degree. It is similar to the job market prospects for any associate’s degree program. Online associate’s degrees that pay well depend on the demand for professionals in the field. Nursing, paralegal work, bookkeeping, and computer science have a high demand for professionals. As a result, you have above average job prospects for your career goals.
Accelerated programs have similar appeal to employers as any online degree. It shows that you have the self-discipline to work without someone watching your every move. It also shows that you are able to finish projects at a fast pace. The key to accomplishing your career aspiration is to focus on a degree with a high demand from employers.
Accreditation and Reputability with Employers
When you decide to consider an online degree program, you want to make sure you focus on schools with accreditation. As more colleges and universities offer online courses, students are increasingly taking an online program. Employers can expect that nearly 25% of students will take at least one online class. The respect for students taking an online class has increased over the years due to the increasing number of classes available.
The key to obtaining a better reputation with an employer when you take an online program is accreditation. An accredited school has a third party determine that the course work is acceptable or appropriate for the field of study. It ensures that the program complies with a specific standard. An employer evaluates the accreditation and the standards when looking at a student or a potential employee. If the school is accredited, then it has the same reputability to an employer as a traditional college or university.
Online Associate’s Degrees that Pay Well
Salary expectations when you obtain an accelerated online associate’s degree varies significantly based on your field of study. The average income for a nurse depends on your experience level and the facility. In general, nurses make around $15 to $40 per hour, with salary expectations increasing as you gain experience in your field. The average income for all nurses is around $65,000; however, you can expect to start at a lower salary than the average.
Other fields like computer science may allow you to make slightly more than other fields. You can expect a slightly higher income as a computer programmer when compared to a computer forensics professional. Web developers may make an average of $68,000, while computer programmers in general can go as high as $88,000.
A paralegal may make around $50,000, depending on their experience and the firm they work for, while bookkeepers make an average of around $40,000. However, in both cases, salaries can go much higher.
In general, you can expect your salary to range from $30,000 to $50,000 for most high-paying career fields that require an associate’s degree. The highest incomes will depend on your level of experience, so you can expect your salary to grow as you learn more and develop specialized skills.
An accelerated online associate’s degree program offers opportunities for your future. While you can start your career in an in-demand profession, more importantly, an associate’s degree sets you up for higher degrees and more potential. The key is selecting a field that helps you maximize your potential and reach your goals. You can make a reasonable income if you focus on high paying careers and start studying for an in-demand job.