good paying job with just associates degree? Or should i go back?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
51 posts
Worker bee

I would check the requirements/preferences for jobs in that field in your area first, because you may end up needing a more advanced degree on top of the bachelors. I don’t really think more education ever hurts, but you have to decide whether an advanced degree is feasible in your situation. 

I mean you can absolutely land a job with a bachelors degree, but depending on your location you might be battling hundreds of others with the same qualifications. 

Post # 3
5082 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2014

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Kslim13 :  My husband was in car sales and marketing for years with just an associates, they don’t require any degree, but it’s hard work, 100% commission for sales people and definitely not conducive to having much of a family life. When he decided that he wanted to get out of that business, the only jobs he would get offers for were those where it’s setting up a table in Best Buy selling Direct TV or something similar. Even though he had a ton of experience on the sales side and in internet marketing,  SEO, etc., most wanted bachelors degrees. He’s going back for a marketing bachelors now, though if it wasn’t for the VA paying for it, I’m not sure he would have gone back and taken on the debt.

That said, my mother has an associates in business and has worked in purchasing for many years. She makes a great living (more than me with a PhD), but it took her a lot of years of grinding and a little luck with people being willing to give her a chance to get there. I say luck, because she started out working as a laborer in a factory for years, but got her big break when one of the office ladies went on maternity and she filled in and learned that job doing data entry and such. It took many years of picking up skills, but eventually, she worked for an employer that paid for her associates. Then she got a job as a buyer and worked her way up through that job. I’m just not sure that we live in a world where this working your way up thing is all that common or possible anymore.

Post # 4
2845 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2018

You would not be able to find a marketing position in my area without a bachelors degree. If you are interested in a certificate program what about Human Resources? HR Generalist positions usually only need the certification to get started and then once you are in that position for five years you are able to move up to an HR Specialist position without necessarily needing a bachelors degree. 

Post # 5
7320 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

View original reply
Kslim13 :  I think you’ll never regret educatioin, that being said, I don’t always think a 4 year (or beyond) degree is always worth it. Provided you’re going into a program that actually interests you, I think a trade school or specialized program would be a great option for you. While I think getting your 4 year degree is a great accomplishment, and certainly needed in many fields, I know more people who are successful from a trade school.

I’m in my mid 30’s and so obviously from a generation where going to college is pounded into us. I know within the people I graduated with those who went for a traditional 4 year degree in “business” or “marketing”, etc all struggled to find jobs and when they did it was nothing they wanted to do. Meanwhile, those who went to a specalized program or trade school (like nursing, dental hygiene, welding, etc) all came out of school with immediate jobs and do very well for themselves. 


Post # 6
2149 posts
Buzzing bee

I know this isn’t a field you’ve specified you’re into. But if I were to go back and get into an associates degree program or a certificate program: I’d be a dental hygienist. They make great money and often times have “bankers hours”. M-Fri, sometimes off on Fridays depending on the office, and definitely a smaller work environment.


Post # 7
2566 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

HR is hot. Human Resources now run most big companies. Seriously. Managers can hardly look sideways at an employee with running it by HR first. Easy job. Great hours. Not tremendous pay, but not bad either.

Post # 8
508 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

I feel your pain Bee! 

I am currently back in school for my first Bachelors degree. I went to a tech school after I decided that the regular college track was not for me. While I made a good living for a single lady after I graduated, when (now) DH and I moved in together and to our current area for his career I was faced with the realization that no matter what practice I got into here I was going to make less than $15/hr. It was a huge slap in the face every month when my student loans were due. I eventually got out of that career direction and have (basically) paid off that degree. Even with finding an administration position in another field I am still needing more. 

So now at 28 years old I am back in school and working 40+ hrs a week. I am finishing my degree for Business Administration and hoping to graduate and toss out applications wherever I see a good life for DH and I. 

I came to this decision after looking at the job market here, and in cities I would consider living in. many positions with the pay, benefits, job quality I am seeking require a Bachelors degree and 5 years experience. (by my graduation date, I should have that experience to back the degree) 

As I see it getting a degree to better you and your families life is never a bad thing. But make sure you take a look at the job offerings in your area or areas you are interested in. Speak with an advisor and ask them point blank what you can expect after this degree. Check out websites like GlassCeiling for salary research, etc.  

Post # 9
8985 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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Kslim13 :  I would try and find a local mentor in your desired field to see what education may or may not be helpful. Internships can also help you decide if you like the day-to-day (I had an AMAZING internship that totally killed my romantic vision of being a prosecutor. Better to know that before deciding to invest in law school). 

Post # 10
305 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

I may be a bit jaded because my own degree has proven pretty useless since graduating, but my general opinion is that degrees don’t get you very far these days, unless it’s a masters or your doctorate or something more than a bachelors.  I’ve worked within A LOT of different fields since my time in school, mostly sales, and from my own experience it certainly appears that getting good jobs and promotions are all about who you know.  Most companies value experience above everything, because someone who knows how to do it is better than someone fresh out of college, degree or not.  The idea of returning to school that late in the game, accruing all that new debt, going crazy managing a full time work schedule and a school schedule and a social schedule, that would feel like waaaay more trouble than it’s worth in my eyes.  Especially for an outcome that’s not even guaranteed.  A lot of companies have the option of tuition reimbursement after you’ve been employed for a certain amount of time and as long as you’re pursuing education within the field you’re working in.  It may be more efficient to start at the bottom somewhere and really commit yourself to the “networking” side of work.  Any employer will respect someone who’s proven themself competent and reliable.  If you put in your time at a solid company and focus on being a grade A employee, they will seek you out for advancement.

Post # 12
722 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2021 - Dracut, Massachusetts

I disagree with PP about dental hygiene. I don’t know where you live but here in MA a kazillion people went to school for it and we have NO jobs whatsoever in that.  Nursing is a great field to get into, but the programs are hard to get into. Same thing with Xray tech or surgical tech. That’s the problem with these type of health care jobs. It’s so frustrating.They pay well- but you wait forever to get into the programs and you’re not guarenteed a job afterwards!

I went back to school when I was 28 and I got my certificate in medical coding. The pay is OK, but not wonderful. You need experience or to know someone who can get you into the field. I was very lucky that my mom and her boss helped me get where I am today. It was difficult, but I hated my job in customer service so badly that I just used that as motivation to get good grades and to study.

I don’t really know what else to tell you, and maybe I’m just pessimistic, but the job outlook is just total crap these days. So many places are outsourcing to India for a lot of different positions.

Post # 14
590 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2017 - Nepal

View original reply
Kslim13 :  Though my situation is a bit different, I decided to go back to school at 25 and graduated with a BA at 29. I also questioned whether it was “too late” to go back, as well as if the time and money was really going to be worth it. While I despise making that student loan payment every month, going back to school was the best thing I could have done for myself. Does everyone need a bachelor’s degree to be professionally successful? Absolutely not but for many it is a great asset. A bachelor’s degree doesn’t automatically give you a career, but it allows you to get your foot in the door to build one for yourself. It is also one of the few things that no one can ever take away from you.

What helped me decide and things you may want to consider or ask yourself:

At nearly 30, you have only worked +/- 12 years and you have the potential to work another 40+. So you’re only about 20% into your working adult life. 

Since you have an associate’s degree, you’ve done half of the work already. 2-4 years (depending on your course load) is a small investment of your time in comparison to how many more years you can potentially work in your life. 

If you forgo continuing your education, do you think you will always have this nagging feeling? 

If you complete a certificate program, will you be fulfilled or do you think it will only provide temporary satisfaction?

Will your earning potential with a bachelor’s degree be worth the cost to obtain it?

Most importantly, what do you want to spend the next 40+ years of your professional life doing? 

If you do decide to pursue a degree and aren’t dead set on working in advertising, you may want to think about which will give you the most flexibility. You could major in Business with a concentration in Marketing and/or minor in Advertising or Public Relations. 

Just know that this is a deeply personal decision that only you can answer. We can all give our opinions and share our experiences but ultimately you know what is best for yourself. This is about you and only you. 

Post # 15
1133 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

Kslim13 :  To give you a different perspective, I was a Hairstylist/Makeup Artist. Loved my job, didn’t make any money and couldn’t survive. So I went back to school for Marketing and Advertising. Currently have been working in the field since I graduated in April 2014, so nearly 4 years now. I HATE it. Every position I got, I got because of experience, nobody asked me for my credientals. It looks “nice” but in advertising/marketing in my area, you definitely do not need education. I worked for big names such as Lowes, Costco, Microsoft, etc. doing their marketing too.

I am currently back in school now earning my degree in Psychology (minor in Environmental Science) so I can go to Teacher’s College and earn my Bachelor of Education. I will be 30 this year, and just started last year, so I have at least another 3 years ahead of me.

Education is never a bad thing to have, but make sure you actually need it for the career field(s) you are looking at. Sometimes, and most of the time I’ve found in advertising, experience and connections (a.k.a. networking/who you know) is more important to be quite honest.

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