You already know that getting a college degree is a great way to get started on obtaining a higher paying career in a field you love, but the world of college degrees can be slightly confusing. How do you know which type of degree is right for you?
Here, we’ll look at the three main types of college degrees — Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s — along with the pros and cons of each type, so you can make a more informed decision about your college education.
Associate’s degrees are two-year college degree programs that prepare you for working in a certain field or industry. Most Associate’s degrees prepare students for entry-level jobs, and they are offered in several different areas. Examples of careers you can prepare for with an Associate’s degree include administrative assistant, graphic designer, paralegal, information technology manager, and network engineer.
The pros: Associate’s degrees are cheaper to get than Bachelor’s or Master’s, both because they involve the fewest semesters and are usually offered at community colleges, which cost less than four-year universities. With an Associate’s degree, you can graduate and start your career (and begin making money) earlier, or you can use the less expensive community college degree to transfer credits to a four-year school and go on to obtain a Bachelor’s.
The cons: You may earn less in a career when you have an Associate’s degree, and depending on your field, you may be competing for jobs with people who have Bachelor’s degrees. You may also have problems getting a supervisory or management position.
Bachelor’s degrees are four-year college degrees with a wide range of degree programs for just about every industry, field, or profession. Common careers that require a Bachelor’s degree include engineering, production management, financial analytics, industrial design, and network security.
The pros: No matter what type of job you’re interested in, chances are there is a Bachelor’s degree program for that type of job. In fact, some fields specifically require at least a Bachelor’s degree, such as law, medicine, and teaching. With a Bachelor’s, you will have increased job opportunities and increased earning potential, as well as more specialized knowledge and skills.
The cons: Bachelor’s degree programs can be expensive and require a greater investment of your time and focus, taking four years to obtain. There are also additional costs you’ll incur, such as room and board, rent, and transportation.
Master’s degrees are programs with Bachelor’s degrees as a prerequisite for entering. A Master’s program may last from one to four years, in addition to the four years required for a Bachelor’s. They are highly specialized and usually build on a prior educational foundation — for example, advanced practitioner jobs require graduate-level education.
The pros: Because they are highly specialized, Master’s degrees prepare you for advanced practitioner jobs that are not available to people with lower degree levels. You’ll also have vastly increased earning potential with your additional education.
The cons: Obtaining a Master’s degree is a very high investment in cost, time, and effort. The programs are typically very challenging as well as expensive, and require five years or more to fully complete.
There is no one-size-fits-all education. Depending on the type of job you want and the income range you’d like to achieve, one of these types of degrees will help you achieve your dreams.
This article was contributed by guest author Shae Holland.