What Is an Associate Degree? (Includes Career Options)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An associate degree is a great way to either introduce yourself to university or launch your career. An associate degree offers a broad educational background that applies to many careers. Understanding what an associate degree is can help you can decide whether you want to pursue it. In this article, we discover what an associate degree is, review available options after graduating, explain how to turn your associate's degree into a bachelor's degree, discuss career opportunities, and learn how to find a job after graduating.

What is an associate degree?

If you are interested in a post-secondary education, you may be interested in an answer to the question, "What is an associate degree?". An associate degree is a two-year undergraduate degree earned at a college or university. Offered only in British Columbia, it's a pre-bachelor's degree that allows students to explore different areas of study before entering the workforce or deciding on a more specific field of study. This degree, which is typically offered in the Science and Art disciplines, teaches students fundamental academic and technical skills.

Related: What Is an Undergraduate Degree? (With Steps to Earn One)

After completing an associate degree

There are many options available after completing an associate's degree. You can choose to pursue a higher level of education by transferring into a bachelor's degree program at a university, or you can enter the workforce and start your career. The route that's best for you is determined by several elements, including how much you wish to make, the sort of career you want to pursue, and the level of study required to meet your objectives.

How to turn your associate's degree into a bachelor's degree

It's possible to turn your associate's degree into a bachelor's degree. This process usually takes two years and includes taking additional courses. To turn your associate's degree into a bachelor's degree, consider the following steps:

1. Consider your options

If you want to enter the workforce immediately, then turning your associate into a bachelor is likely not the best option for you. If you're undecided about what you want to do and want more time to explore different areas of study, then transferring your credits over to a bachelor's degree program may be the right choice for you. You may need to confirm the details about transferring credits to the university where you're seeking to enrol.

Related: Average Bachelor Degree Salary for Different Fields

2. Research your educational options

Once you have decided what your bachelor's program may be, it's time to see what educational options are available. Some universities offer associate degree-to-bachelor programs that allow students with an appropriate number of credits to transfer into their specific bachelor's degrees. Other universities may not have a direct pathway from the associate level, but they may recognize any courses taken within an approved community college or institution for credit.

Find out what resources are available at each university before making this decision so that you can plan accordingly. Remember to complete all necessary prerequisites for admission if required by the university. It's important to research schools thoroughly before enrolling. For instance, if you want to study journalism, look for features such as online and on-campus classes, program length, and associated costs.

3. Begin the application process

Once you decide on a bachelor's program and an educational pathway, it's time to apply. It may require you to complete a specific number of courses before being admitted into the bachelor's program. There are also some careers where further study at the university level beyond an associate is the only way to enter the profession.

For example, law or veterinary medicine are two careers that typically require a four-year degree for entry-level positions. If you want to pursue one of these fields, it's important to research the required level of study and which universities offer the best program for your chosen career.

Related: What Is an Associate in the Workplace? Definition and Types

4. Apply to your desired program

The application procedure usually entails filling out an application form with personal information, paying a fee, and providing educational and occupational history records. Sometimes, you may take an entrance or placement test. Many applications are online, but you may get more information about the application procedure from your chosen institution's admissions counsellor.

5. Complete the bachelor degree's course requirements

After being accepted into the university's bachelor degree program, you may begin taking courses that are designed to further your education and career preparation. Most universities offer seminars or workshops during orientation sessions for new students. For example, you may learn about the expectations of professors, what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, campus services that are available to you, and what kind of career opportunities are available for your degree.

The best way to ensure a successful transition into university is by attending all orientation sessions and meeting with an academic advisor as soon as possible. Advisors can help connect you with resources on campus, provide guidance on course selection, and offer support when needed. You may also familiarize yourself with the institution's policies and regulations so that you know what the expectations are while attending school.

Career options with an associate degree

For students directly entering the workforce after an associate's degree, there are many career options available. Some of the job options include:

Administrative assistant

Administrative assistants assist people at all levels of an organization. They manage office activities, provide clerical support to other employees, handle mail distribution and filing, organize meetings and events, and conduct research for the company's executives or managers. Other duties include preparing and editing documents, handling customer inquiries, and coordinating travel arrangements.

Related: 10 Great Art Associate Degree Jobs

Police officer

Police officers protect the public by enforcing laws and maintaining order. They investigate crimes, gather evidence, make arrests, and testify in court proceedings. Police officers may work as part of a team or work in a specific area, such as traffic enforcement or narcotics investigations.

Web developer

Web developers design and create websites. They handle the look of websites and the functionality of its features. Web developers may be familiar with a variety of programming languages and web development tools.


Fundraisers plan fundraising campaigns to meet an organization's financial needs. They may solicit donations from individuals, corporations, and other organizations. Fundraisers may have excellent communication skills so they can be convincing when talking to potential donors about what their contributions may accomplish.

Event planner

Event planners handle the organization and execution of special events. They work with clients to determine what the type of event, the budget, and the goals of the event. Event planners may manage a variety of tasks simultaneously and ensure that the event goes as planned.

Content writer

Content writers write website content, blog posts, articles, and other marketing materials. They produce quality content that's both engaging and informative for the reader. To keep up with current trends, content writers may also be familiar with various writing styles and SEO techniques.

English as a second language (ESL) teacher

ESL teachers help non-native speakers improve their English skills. They work in schools, businesses, and other organizations that offer ESL courses. ESL teachers are patient and have excellent communication skills to be able to teach students of all levels. ESL teachers are in demand overseas and there are many opportunities to teach and travel abroad.

Customer service agent

Customer service agents provide support to customers who have questions or concerns about a product or service. They handle customer inquiries by phone, email, or chat. Customer service agents are patient and have excellent problem-solving skills to resolve any issues the customer may have.

Finding employment with an associate's degree

There are many ways to find a job after completing an associate's degree. For example, you may start by looking at online job websites. You can also create a resume that highlights your knowledge and skills and send them to companies. Another option is to take part in job fairs where dozens of companies come together to meet with potential new team members. During these events, it's common to speak directly with company representatives who may have opportunities available.

Some universities offer programs tailored to providing students with the skills to get a job in their field. This approach allows students to gain valuable experience by working closely with industry professionals who are also on campus. Along similar lines, many schools offer co-op programs with work terms, which also can help lead to employment opportunities after graduation. Another option is to get an internship in your desired career field after graduating. Many employers prefer to hire individuals who have some work experience.

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