Over the years, many Americans have started using the community college educational path to start building a career. Community colleges open doors to opportunities that most traditional universities do not. They set you up for a good job within two years, and their curriculum is curated to cater to non-traditional students, allowing them to be part-time/full-time workers while pursuing their education. In this in-depth guide to getting hired from a community college, we will explore why these colleges are your best option to get earning quickly and what are some of the best paying jobs you can start with only a two-year associate’s degree.
The best jobs with an associate’s degree provide a fast and clear career path after graduation. In this guide, we will be listing some of the highest-paying jobs you can get with a community college degree as well as their expected job outlook between 2020 and 2030.
So let’s get started on planning your career quickly!
Getting hired from a community college
The post-COVID economy will demand practical skills and a diverse workforce, yet many companies are struggling to find quality talent at the scale they need.
Universities may offer a long-term solution with their drawn-out four-year programs but as always, it will be community colleges that come to the rescue with their quick contribution to the workforce.
Providing quality education but with a focus on getting communities job-ready at a faster pace, these educational institutions have always managed to understand the gaps in supply and demand in the workforce.
But why are community colleges so in tune with the economy compared to other institutions? For that, we will have to quickly look at what community colleges are first.
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What are community colleges and what makes them special?
Year after year, the number of students enrolled at community colleges grows. Community colleges, in addition to being a cost-effective option, are increasingly becoming the first choice for many Americans, and here's why.
At its very core, the goal of community colleges was to provide education to surrounding community members.
The US government hoped to create a system that would quickly stimulate economic growth by making education available to minorities, the less fortunate, the unemployed, and other marginalized groups. And thus, community colleges were formed.
Community colleges, unlike traditional four-year universities, are supported by the government to make them more affordable and accessible. The goal of community colleges is to provide students with an educational platform that will ultimately lead to immediate employment in a much shorter time.
They usually offer a mix of any of the following options:
Six-month vocational diplomas.
One to six-month short skill-based certificate courses some as low as $50.
Vocational, technical, and pre-professional certificates.
Two-year associate degree in general and liberal education
Many students also use a subsidized two-year associate’s degree to transfer credits and get admission to a four-year university bachelor’s program.
And on the other side of the spectrrum, some students even get into community college while still in high school. Here is an article that shows how that can benefit you.
Benefits of attending community college
There are several reasons why community colleges are becoming increasingly popular among Americans seeking higher education. The most popular reasons for attending community college are:
1.It is a more affordable option
According to a study by College Board, the average tuition fee at a community college is $3,440. In comparison, a traditional four-year university costs approximately $32,410. Here is a great article on what community college will cost you compared to all other options.
2.A second chance to improve your GPA
Many students go to community college to improve their GPA to be able to eventually transfer to a four-year university.
This is a great option for students to recover from bad grades.
3.Smaller class sizes more conducive to learning
A traditional university class has approximately 150 to 300 students, in comparison an average community college class has around 25 to 35.
Managing a college-level education can be really tough for those who have a full schedule, such as people with jobs or parents. Smaller classrooms at community colleges provide such students with better access to professors who understand their problems.
Now that we understand community colleges better let’s focus on the main program that they offer which is an Associate’s Degree.
What is an Associate’s Degree?
An associate degree usually takes two years of post-secondary education to complete.
Associate degrees are commonly sought by recent high school graduates looking to further their education before embarking upon a career, and by people looking to either transition into a new career or advance in their current one.
You can achieve an associate degree in a wide range of subjects. They’re typically cheaper and faster to earn than a bachelor's degree, making them an attractive alternative to getting the job you want that pays well.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median salary for someone with “some college or associate degree” was $825 per week in the second quarter of 2018, translating into an annual salary of $42,900 (assuming 52 weeks of pay a year).
High school graduates with no college earn a median salary of $726 a week, for an annual salary of $37,752. In this example, this results in an annual gain of $5,148 if you have no college education and were to complete your associate’s degree.
This means you could pay for the tuition of an associate’s degree program in less than 16 months. This does not, however, account for the cost of living while attending college, nor the potential of lost wages that you might not be able to earn while completing an associate’s degree.
Types of Associate Degrees
There are three specific types of associate's degrees. Each one has its own qualities and advantages, as well as drawbacks.
1.Associate in Arts (AA)
An AA degree is usually the broadest, and therefore the least specific, of all the associated arts degrees. During the AA program, students will take wide-ranging courses that can include introductions to history, art, literature, music, business, writing, and communication.
The main advantage of an associate in arts degree is that it does not limit the graduate to a certain path, meaning they have access to several types of AA degree jobs.
2.Associate in Science (AS)
An AS degree is still broad, but it has more specificity than an associate in arts. These types of degrees are generally chosen if the student intends to pursue further education in an area that includes science, such as nursing or engineering.
3.Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
An AAS degree is a highly-specific education path, usually technical, that focuses on a single career field. Students who want to get an education and jump immediately into a specific career will want to consider an associate in applied science. Popular associate’s in applied science programs include:
Web development & design
Top community college degrees for getting hired
Now with all that out of the way let’s jump straight into the kind of jobs that could get you a great salary while studying at a community college.
We have listed below some of the best ones but this is by no means a complete list of jobs. There are many careers out there waiting to be explored.
For the moment here at the top ones and to help you along we have included potential salaries and career outlook until the year 2030 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
National average salary: $102,165 per year
Primary duties: Radiation therapists carry out radiation treatment prescribed by radiologists.
They prepare equipment, keep track of patient information, administer prescribed doses, and generally act as an intermediary between the physician and patient.
Radiation therapists monitor patients for issues or side effects, along with educating them and their families about how treatment and procedures work.
Job outlook: Approximately 1,100 jobs will be created yearly for radiation therapists. The expected job growth is 9% over the decade.
National average salary: $83,161 per year
Primary duties: Dental hygienists perform various duties around a dentist's office, such as initial patient interviews, teeth cleanings, and instructing patients on how to best care for their teeth.
As a dental hygienist, you’ll also work closely with dentists to help create treatment plans for patients and provide assistance during dental emergencies.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 11% over the decade for dental hygienists, or about 15,600 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $80,370 per year
Primary duties: These highly-trained professionals assist in nuclear research and energy production by operating special equipment.
They may monitor radiation levels, assist engineers, or work with physicists to create safe, reliable nuclear energy.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 1% over the decade for nuclear technicians, or about 6,900 openings on average per year.
4.Nuclear medicine technologist
National average salary: $75,660 per year
Primary duties: This profession works in medical imaging, using a safe dose of radiation to generate information on a patient’s body, which then can be used by doctors to diagnose or administer treatments.
This career usually requires an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear technology program.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 10% over the decade for nuclear medicine technologists, or about 20,100 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $79,174 per year plus $11,250 in overtime pay on average
Primary duties: A registered nurse monitors, tracks, and records patient status. They work with patients daily, providing treatment, performing tests, and answering questions.
It's a registered nurse's responsibility to keep accurate records regarding each patient. Nurses can also administer medication and treatment following the patient's treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 9% over the decade for registered nurses, or about 194,500 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $68,785 per year plus $2,000 average bonus
Primary duties: Web developers create functioning websites. While web designers focus on how a website looks, web developers focus on what the website can do.
Some things web developers might work on are online shopping carts, product tracking, email subscription lists, or creating a custom content management system. They use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, Java, and Python.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 13% over the decade for web developers and digital designers, or about 17,900 openings on average per year.
7.Aerospace engineering technician
National average salary: $67,240 per year
Primary duties: Using computer-based modeling, robotics, and automation, aerospace technicians maintain the equipment that is used in air and spacecraft.
They work with engineers and operators to implement test procedures, and they can also be involved in the design and construction of test facilities.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 7% over the decade for aerospace engineering technicians, or about 12,100 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $65,620 per year
Primary duties: Using special imaging equipment, medical sonographers create images of the body that can be used by physicians to assess and diagnose patients.
A sonographer will be specially trained in the use of an ultrasonic imaging device, which uses sound waves and vibrations to create an image of a specified organ.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 17% over the decade for medical sonographers, or about 122,300 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $64,970 per year
Primary duties: Audiovisual engineers ensure that media equipment works properly. This could include tasks like setting up projectors for presentations, helping businesses hold video conferences online, or installing audio equipment at performances.
If any type of presentation requires audio or visual technology, an audiovisual engineer is there to help.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 21% over the decade for broadcast, sound, and video technicians, or about 18,000 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $63,887 per year plus $6,094 in overtime pay
Primary duties: An HVAC installer is responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of HVAC systems in homes and businesses. HVAC systems provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning to a building.
It's the HVAC installer's job to see that this system is installed correctly. HVAC installers typically need to travel to local areas for the installation, and they work both indoors and outdoors.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 5% over the decade for HVAC mechanics and installers, or about 38,500 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $58,243 per year plus $1,325 in average overtime pay
Primary duties: Computer programmers write instructions that computers can follow to carry out complex actions. They can work with a variety of programming languages, such as Python, Ruby, or C++.
Programmers work in a wide range of industries to create applications for computers. They can create the initial program as well as run tests to look for problems and make updates to the application or software over time.
Job outlook: While job openings are expected to decline 10% over the decade for computer programmers, 9,700 openings are projected on average per year due to the need to replace workers who move to other roles or leave the workforce.
National average salary: $57,907 per year plus $4,281 in average overtime pay
Primary duties: Landscape technicians, also known as landscapers or groundskeepers, make outdoor areas aesthetically appealing. They use their knowledge of plants and exterior decorating to improve lawns, gardens, and other outdoor places.
Typical work includes mowing lawns, trimming bushes, planting flowers and trees, building fountains, and creating pathways.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 8% over the decade for grounds maintenance workers, or about 173,200 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $56,919 per year
Primary duties: Civil drafters help create new buildings, roads, and other urban developments.
Any time a new building, park, or road needs to get built, it's the civil drafter who comes up with the plans, drawing them out by hand or through computer-aided software.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to decline 2% over the decade for drafters, but about 17,500 openings are projected on average per year due to the need to replace workers who leave for other jobs or exit the workforce completely.
National average salary: $54,219 per year
Primary duties: Fashion designers use their creativity to create new looks in clothes fashion. They design items like shirts, pants, shoes, bags, dresses, suits, and more.
If you have an eye for what looks good on other people and want a job where you get to use your creativity, you should consider fashion design.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to show little or no change over the decade for fashion designers, but are still projected to have about 2,500 openings on average per year based on the need to replace workers due to retirement or exiting the field.
15.Electrical engineering technician
National average salary: $53,584 per year plus $8,000 in overtime pay
Primary duties: Electrical engineering technicians are responsible for building and repairing electrical systems or instruments. They often work at construction sites to ensure the building process will fit the electrical needs.
They will also inspect existing electrical systems for quality control and make reports regarding any issues they find.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 2% over the decade for electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians, or about 11,000 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $53,497 per year plus $3,000 bonus
Primary duties: Running an office requires numerous skills. An office manager works to make employees happy, increase productivity and ensure everyone has what they need to get their work done.
You need strong organizational and communication skills to be an effective office manager.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to decline 2% over the decade for general office clerks, despite about 324,600 openings on average per year due to replacing workers who transfer to other roles or exit the workforce.
National average salary: $53,448 per year
Primary duties: The primary duty of a police officer is to protect people and property. They are employed by each state to patrol towns and cities, enforce laws, and provide assistance when needed.
Police officers respond to emergency calls of all kinds, then assume responsibility for managing the situation. They’re also required to make full reports of each incident and may need to give testimony in court.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 7% over the decade for police and detectives, or about 67,100 openings on average per year.
18.Air traffic controller
National average salary: $51,064 per year
Primary duties: Air traffic controllers are in charge of coordinating the movement of aircraft to ensure their safety. They manage both the departure and arrival of planes at airports, issue takeoff and landing instructions, and authorize any changes to flight paths.
Air traffic controllers will also alert pilots to any problems or alert airport response teams in the event of an emergency.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 4% over the decade for air traffic controllers, or about 2,500 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $51,051 per year
Primary duties: The main responsibility of a paralegal is to assist attorneys by drafting documents, organizing and filing paperwork, meeting with clients to discuss case details, and conducting research into case law.
A paralegal is a common position for people looking to gain experience on their way to becoming attorneys. As a paralegal, you can expect your days to be filled with a lot of legal reading and paperwork.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 12% over the decade for paralegals and legal assistants, or about 43,000 openings on average per year.
20.Social services assistant
National average salary: $49,501 per year
Primary duties: Social services assistants work alongside social workers and psychologists to help others through difficult times by providing advice and guidance. Similar to social workers, they’re employed by government agencies, rehabilitation centers, family shelters, and nursing care facilities.
They also may specialize in working with the elderly, people with disabilities, addicts, and more.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 17% over the decade for social and human service assistants, or about 59,100 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $48,687 per year
Primary duties: Web designers use their creativity and technical knowledge to design functional and aesthetically pleasing websites based on client needs. They can work for design firms, on marketing teams, and as freelancers.
Web designers need to learn some programming languages along with the basic elements of design to take a client's ideas and turn them into a full website.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 13% over the decade for web developers and digital designers, or about 17,900 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $47,038 per year plus $7,500 bonus and $12,000 commission
Primary duties: A store manager works to ensure that a store is always operating smoothly. This often requires a lot of multitasking. Store managers need to be organized, personable, and responsible to keep everything running efficiently.
An associate degree will help to demonstrate you can perform tasks like tracking inventory, ordering supplies, and effectively scheduling employees.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to show little or no change over the decade for retail sales workers, but are still projected to have about 557,200 openings on average per year based on the need to replace workers due to retirement or exiting the field.
National average salary: $37,780 per year
Primary duties: Pastry chefs create various desserts and treats. They specialize in making cakes, cookies, brownies, scones, and other sweets.
Pastry chefs may work in a restaurant, as freelancers, or for large businesses producing products in bulk.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 10% over the decade for bakers, or about 28,300 openings on average per year.
National average salary: $29,976 per year
Primary duties: Dietary technicians, also known as dietary aides, work alongside dietitians to help clients with dietary issues. The goal of every dietary technician is to help clients improve their quality of life by assisting with their diet, such as creating meal plans and informing them about healthy choices.
They also work with clients to discuss specific goals and how they can reach them, such as weight loss or building muscle mass.
Job outlook: Job openings are expected to grow 11% over the decade for dietitians and nutritionists—positions dietary technicians work closely with—or about 5,900 openings on average per year.
As mentioned earlier these are just some of the top jobs available that pay well and require only two years of study for an associate’s degree. Feel free to explore more options if you don’t find yourself passionate about any of the above-listed options.
Unmudl tips for finding a job after college
Of course, it’s not enough to just know there are good jobs out there. You also need to successfully apply for them. Well, Unmudl has you covered with our tips to successfully applying for a job.
The job market is really tough and it will probably get tougher so you need to have your A-game in place to get that spot.
Use Your School's Career Center
Community colleges typically have career services departments that are designed to help current students and recent graduates get their first job.
Common online tools include digital job boards with postings and virtual networking seminars where alumni can interact and share potential leads and opportunities.
Your school may also employ experts who can proofread your cover letter and discuss your future aspirations in order to determine the right career.
Your school has helped countless students before you to find a job, and it is wise to take advantage of the experience and wisdom offered by a career services department.
Make a list of target companies
While pursuing your degree you should learn a lot not only about the material you are studying but about your post-graduate job opportunities as well.
Make a list of the top ten companies in your desired field and make an effort to make contact with one person at each company – use your network!
Customize your resume
You should not be sending out a general resume to potential employers, try to customize your resume for each job application.
Include information about what qualifies you for the particular position you are seeking as well as any certifications or relevant experiences which make you unique from other candidates.
Create a profile on LinkedIn
This website has become one of the largest networking tools available to modern businesses. It is known as the Facebook for careers.
Create a profile that showcases your experience. Post your resume as well so that recruiters can contact you.
Take an internship as early as possible
Potential employers prefer candidates that enter the job market with little experience under their belt. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to gain this experience if you wait too long.
Taking an internship (even if it is unpaid) is a great way to advance your career.
Go back to school
If you feel that you are really struggling with job hunting and that even after a very long period of attempts you haven’t been able to get a position then it’s time to upgrade your resume.
The best way is to go back and do some short courses that are high in demand within your field. This will immediately set you apart from your competitors when applying for a job.
The best part is you don’t need to spend another year in college, there are short courses starting from a week to a couple of months that will drastically change the value of your CV.
For a list of short courses, visit the Unmudl site and you will be surprised at how affordable they are.
Be resilient and don’t be afraid to try
Many job applicants give up too easily and get discouraged by rejection. Every person who applies, even the top graduates from MIT have horror stories of applying for long periods before getting their break.
The good thing about community college is that you won’t have to wait that long because most of the positions we showed you above are in high demand already. But even if there is a slight delay keep at it and apply for jobs even if they ask for a little more experience than you have.
The harder you work during your years at community college, the more prepared you will be for life after graduation. Finding a job will still require some effort, but if you go into the process as prepared as possible your chances of finding a good job are higher.
Working while at community college
Of course, what most people don’t realize is that community colleges are very flexible with their schedules. What this means is that you can get a part-time or even a full-time job while studying at community college.
So if one of the main reasons for your opting for a community college was the affordability of tuition, well the good news is that you can further improve the situation by starting to earn a living on day one of community college.
Most students get an odd job but the smarter ones try to get a job, even if it is at a very junior position, at the kind of place you might be working.
As an example, you want to be a pharmacist. Obviously, no one is going to let you near medicines until you have done your studies. But you can get a basic job as a store helper by stocking and helping the pharmacist with the inventory.
The key is to get creative and build the path to your career and a community college will allow you to do that far more easily than a university will.
Using community college to change careers
One last subject we have to touch upon is using community colleges to change careers.
While most of this article assumes that you are fresh out of High School and ready to build a career with a community college, every single bit of information above also applies to you if you are already employed and looking to change your career.
People change careers for many reasons. Some of the key reasons are:
You want a more interesting job because the job you have right now is boring as hell!
The industry you work in is really stressful and it has started to affect your health.
You just want more money, man. Your current job is barely helping you make ends meet.
You are ambitious and your current line of work can simply not help you reach your career goals.
You find it increasingly difficult to maintain a work-life balance at your current position.
Your skills and natural abilities are not compatible with your current job.
You want to get out of the family business.
You want to move to a bigger city with more opportunities or perhaps to a smaller, more peaceful town.
You got laid off because the company you worked for shut down, got merged, or got acquired.
Your job is simply not compatible with your life priorities or perhaps even a hindrance to it.
Well whatever your reasons are if you are planning to get hired in a new career, community college is your key to getting that done.
Here is a great in-depth guide to changing careers with community college if that is what you are interested in.
Getting hired from a community college is far easier than getting hired out of a university. The key reason for that is that most of the courses offered at community colleges are in tune with the job market and the requirements employers post in their communities.
This is something very unique to community colleges as they focus on uplifting the economic conditions of their immediate communities which is what sets them apart from other higher education institutions.
So if you want to get a good-paying job quickly with only two years at college then a community college might just be your best bet!