2012′s Best-Performing Jobs for Associate Degrees

This is the second post in a series about the best jobs by ed level for 2012. See the original post here. Keep in mind that the data for 2012 is a projection.

Our goal for this post is to highlight 2012′s best-performing jobs by growth and income that require either an associate’s degree or a postsecondary vocational award (PSV).

Now, as we point out in our introductory post, many of the employees in these occupations actually do have more than an associate’s degree. Not only that, but (unlike the data implies) some of these jobs actually require more than an associate’s degree. Take registered nurses, for example. Registered nurses are typically associated with associate’s degrees. However, in this day and age, much more than an associate’s is often required to work as a nurse. This just means that a lot of the people who currently work as nurses (think older workers) received an associate’s to get those jobs. As time passes and educational standards go up, so will the reported qualification.

NOTE: Our analysis is based solely on labor market data from EMSI’s 2012.1 Covered Employment release, which is drawn from over 80 state and federal data sources.

Total Job Growth

Below is a list of the associate’s-level occupations that grew by at least 8,000 jobs since 2008. A few immediate takeaways:

  • Registered nurses added 194,000 new jobs (8% growth) between 2008-2012. No other job comes close.
  • The next closest job, nursing aides, created 98,000 jobs.
  • Most of the occupations are related to healthcare (SOC codes 29 and 31).
  • Almost all of the occupations grow steadily year to year, but a couple break the pattern. Preschool teachers declined in 2008 and didn’t recover ground until suddenly adding over an estimated 10,000 jobs in 2011-12. Similar story with fitness trainers & aerobics instructors, which wavered back and forth 2008-2011 and then shot up over 9,000 estimated jobs in 2011-12.

SOC Code Description 2008 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2011 Median Hourly Wage Ed Level
Source: EMSI Covered Employment – 2012.1
29-1111 Registered Nurses 2,486,171 2,680,103 193,932 8% $31.15 AA
31-1012 Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants 1,391,833 1,490,171 98,338 7% $11.73 PSV
29-2061 Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses 707,015 756,714 49,699 7% $19.46 PSV
29-2041 Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics 207,388 228,197 20,809 10% $14.53 PSV
29-2021 Dental Hygienists 166,203 181,610 15,407 9% $33.15 AA
29-2034 Radiologic Technologists and Technicians 205,425 218,267 12,842 6% $25.87 AA
25-2011 Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education 378,461 388,090 9,629 3% $11.80 PSV
29-1126 Respiratory Therapists 102,190 111,543 9,353 9% $25.85 AA
29-2055 Surgical Technologists 86,646 95,264 8,618 10% $19.13 PSV
39-9031 Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 221,170 229,742 8,572 4% $15.20 PSV
29-2012 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians 147,753 156,025 8,272 6% $17.39 AA
31-2021 Physical Therapist Assistants 60,683 68,777 8,094 13% $23.28 AA

Greatest % Growth

  • Physical therapist assistants grew by 13% and added 9,000 new jobs.
  • Massage therapists grew by 12% and added 6,400 new jobs.
  • Occupational therapist assistants grew by 11% and added 3,000 new jobs.

Note the overlap between this table and the last one. This means that a number of the occupations that are piling on the jobs are also growing by the greatest percent. The best overall growth belongs to emergency medical technicians, dental hygienists, and paramedics and registered nurses.

SOC Code Description 2008 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2011 Median Hourly Wage Ed level
Source: EMSI Covered Employment – 2012.1
31-2021 Physical Therapist Assistants 60,683 68,777 8,094 13% $23.28 AA
31-9011 Massage Therapists 54,135 60,571 6,436 12% $17.28 PSV
31-2011 Occupational Therapist Assistants 26,045 28,963 2,918 11% $24.42 AA
15-2091 Mathematical Technicians 1,263 1,404 141 11% $19.93 AA
29-2041 Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics 207,388 228,197 20,809 10% $14.53 PSV
29-2055 Surgical Technologists 86,646 95,264 8,618 10% $19.13 PSV
29-2031 Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians 46,092 50,389 4,297 9% $23.04 AA
29-2021 Dental Hygienists 166,203 181,610 15,407 9% $33.15 AA
29-1126 Respiratory Therapists 102,190 111,543 9,353 9% $25.85 AA
29-1124 Radiation Therapists 15,063 16,421 1,358 9% $35.88 AA
29-2056 Veterinary Technologists and Technicians 76,657 83,487 6,830 9% $14.18 AA
49-9062 Medical Equipment Repairers 35,183 38,301 3,118 9% $20.44 AA
39-5094 Skin Care Specialists 27,665 30,036 2,371 9% $14.04 PSV
19-4041 Geological and Petroleum Technicians 14,953 16,169 1,216 8% $26.12 AA
29-1111 Registered Nurses 2,486,171 2,680,103 193,932 8% $31.15 AA
29-2032 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 49,602 53,402 3,800 8% $30.75 AA

Highest Pay

This table shows all the associate’s-level jobs that pay more than $27/hour (2011 median hourly wage). It leads off with computer specialists ($37.25), radiation therapists ($35.88), dental hygienists ($33.15), nuclear medicine technologists ($32.88), and nuclear technicians ($32.48).

And notice…

  • Six out of 12 highest-paying jobs are related to healthcare (SOC code 29).
  • Aerospace engineering & operations technicians and fashion designers are both in decline.
SOC Code Description 2008 Jobs 2012 Jobs Change % Change 2011 Median Hourly Wage Ed level
Source: EMSI Covered Employment – 2012.1
15-1099 Computer Specialists, All Other 196,565 204,278 7,713 4% $37.25 AA
29-1124 Radiation Therapists 15,063 16,421 1,358 9% $35.88 AA
29-2021 Dental Hygienists 166,203 181,610 15,407 9% $33.15 AA
29-2033 Nuclear Medicine Technologists 20,754 21,909 1,155 6% $32.88 AA
19-4051 Nuclear Technicians 6,317 6,566 249 4% $32.48 AA
53-2012 Commercial Pilots 32,104 32,275 171 1% $31.96 PSV
29-1111 Registered Nurses 2,486,171 2,680,103 193,932 8% $31.15 AA
27-1022 Fashion Designers 16,507 15,819 -688 -4% $31.00 AA
29-2032 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers 49,602 53,402 3,800 8% $30.75 AA
49-2095 Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay 23,597 25,022 1,425 6% $30.25 PSV
17-3029 Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other 70,316 70,545 229 0% $27.93 AA
17-3021 Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians 8,279 7,595 -684 -8% $27.81 AA

Closing Thoughts

Taking growth and wages together, the best associate’s-level jobs are registered nurses and dental hygienists. Jobs with jumbo growth spurts (not necessarily the best pay) are in healthcare, while the best wages (not necessarily the best growth) are in healthcare occupations, as well as jobs like computer specialists and commercial pilots.

Return to the original post here. Learn about the best bachelor’s level jobs for 2012.

Find out more about EMSI and our data here. You can reach us via Twitter @DesktopEcon or by emailing Rob Sentz (rob@economicmodeling.com).

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5 Responses to “2012′s Best-Performing Jobs for Associate Degrees”

  1. Tarneshia Burns

    I was interested in the jobs listed for associate degrees. How do I go by applying for these jobs?

  2. Julie Bush

    I would like to work with older adults. I have 24 credits toward my associate degree as a social work tech. in applied science. I plan on getting my masters. where should I do my Internship?

  3. kentuckyliz

    Tarneshia: most career oriented associate degree programs include a capstone or practicum course near the end which helps with test preparation for licensing, certification, registry exams (if applicable for the field) and with preparing for the job search. Your faculty in your program have direct contact with the businesses/organizations in their industry, who often serve on their advisory boards. Those businesses often contact the faculty directly for sourcing candidates for their middle-skill positions.

    Julie: internships are great as an unofficial extended interview for the agency/organization you want to work for. Figure that out, and work with your faculty in your program to identify these organizations and implement an internship plan. Work your way into a job!

  4. pauline king

    i have about 20 credits. I was going to a community college for teaching. I been thinking about different roles in the school sytem. Maybe occupational assitant. please help’

  5. Jala

    I’m currently about to graduate with my associate degree in general studies and I’m trying to find a job
    And have no idea where to start. Please help.