If you’re a member of Generation X, a millennial or Gen Z, you’ve probably had the importance of getting a good college education lectured at you since you were learning to walk. When getting a bachelor’s degree is no longer a guarantee of securing any job, much less a great career, it may be time to look at other options. Although college is still a good choice for a variety of reasons, recent studies show that the bachelor’s may not be the gold standard as it once was. If you’re thinking about college, here’s a few reasons that getting your associate’s degree might be the better long-term choice.
Lower Student Loans
When the average college graduate leaves a California school with about $35,000 in debt, it’s time to consider the return on your investment. It’s true that graduates with a four-year degree tend to earn more than someone who only finished high school, but there’s a wide world of opportunities between the two. By getting an associate’s degree, you not only shorten the time to graduation. You also give yourself the chance to get the work done at a community college with a good trade program, which can dramatically cut down on the total costs for your education. Shrinking your loan potential to half or a quarter of what it could be makes it easier for you to find your place in the industry, wherever that may be.
Flexibility to Add Certificate Programs
Any degree is an investment. It’s just that a bachelor’s takes more of an investment for a longer period of time. If you’re trying to work while studying, like many Californians, you need to maximize the benefits you get from the program. Lots of two-year colleges offer certificate programs along with an associate’s that you may be able to work on at the same time. And if you’re not committing for several years into the future, it may be easier for you to do just that.
More Time for Apprenticeships or Other Career Development Options
In this industry, you need time to develop your craft. You can get some of it inside the classroom, but that won’t be enough. In order to even take the contractor licensing exam, you usually need years of experience working for another licensed contractor in your field. This is true even if you get a bachelor’s degree. With a two-year degree, you’ve got more time to devote to finding the right fit, whether that means applying for and participating in apprenticeships or other options for career development. And since apprenticeships are an even more effective way to start on a great career path in the industry, this gives you a better chance of getting the job you want.
Similar Income and Growth Opportunities
Although education is a worthy pursuit in its own right, there are many reasons that you might want to consider what you’re getting from the work you put in. Higher income and greater choices for careers draw most people to college, especially the ones who finish their programs. But recent research indicates that an associate’s degree might be just as effective for long-term income growth as a bachelor’s, especially in industries like construction. Many construction jobs have flexible entry requirements. This often means that an associate’s can set you apart almost as readily as a bachelor’s, especially if you have certificates or other experience to bring to the table.
Foundation to Continue Education Later
If you decide that you ultimately want to pursue higher-ranking positions like a construction manager or executive of a larger company, you may need to add to your education. But getting your associate’s and starting your career from there isn’t going to stop you from taking other programs at a later date. In fact, by giving yourself the opportunity to apply your knowledge at first, you may make pursuing a bachelor’s or even a master’s more effective later on.