The Value of an Associate’s Degree

Conventional wisdom says that a degree from a four-year college is required to be successful. While it is true that going to college right out of high school is a good way to prepare for a career, it is not the only way to do so. Nearly 38% of high school graduates go directly into the workforce to start their careers. With the current unemployment rate at 3.9% (April 2018), finding a job is not a difficult feat for high school graduates. Getting that job may not be difficult but turning it into a career with advancement opportunities can be challenging. Why pursue a degree after starting a career?

Career Development

Amongst the sea of employees in any business there are only a select few who are offered any sort of advancement or career development. Employees that receive these opportunities are the ones who are the most qualified and the hardest working. As of 2015 there were 2.8 million employees in the Administrative, leisure, food and other services industry that have less than an associate’s degree and only 647 thousand employees with an associate’s degree. A degree is not the only way to be successful; but it does separate those that have the drive and the initiative to get ahead. Employees with an associate’s degree are in lower supply and in higher demand. There is a better chance of advancing in a career by furthering your education.

For instance, did you know that “9 out of 10 restaurant managers started in entry-level positions.” and “more than half of hotel general managers began their hotel careers in hourly entry-level positions”.

Increased Income

Bills just keep going up. Everyone wants their income to increase, especially as expenses increase, but the real question is how to make that happen. “With a GED or a diploma from high school, you can expect to make around $652 weekly. Get your associate’s degree, and that weekly pay jumps to $785, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” A house doesn’t heat itself and kids don’t feed themselves. Getting a degree may be a lot of work, but the payout is worth it. “A higher education degree can help you move up to a higher-paying role in your company or in another industry or location.” The sacrifice made now will teach valuable skills that translate well into the workforce, more than just the degree earned.

Developing Soft Skills

Going to school is not just about the piece of paper you get handed at the end. “Getting a degree will net you new experience and expertise, but it also teaches more general skills that can make the difference between professional excellence and feeling stuck in your career.” College teaches students leadership and working in teams, writing and speaking communication, organization, work ethic, and most importantly, time management. Adult students, especially, learn how to balance time between family, work, friends, and classes. The process of going to college teaches students skills that will be valuable in any job.


College Gateway for America partners with companies in the restaurant, banking, hotel and retail industries in order to offer their employees the opportunity to earn their Associate’s Degree DEBT-FREE. Open the door to opportunities, give your employees the chance to go back to school and move up the career ladder while at the same time creating a talent pool to fuel your company’s future growth. Learn more about the program or feel free to contact us.