In general, the higher the degree earned, the higher the earnings. For example, an associate degree increases lifetime earnings over a high school diploma by 25%, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Two-year degree holders earn a median of $2 million during their lifetimes, averaging $50,000 annually.
However, factors such as field of study and occupation play a role in earnings. In some instances, individuals with associate degrees in certain fields can earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree. For example, 23% of workers with some college education and 28% of associate-degree holders earn more than half of workers with a bachelor’s degree, according to the report.
Computer and mathematical, architecture and engineering, and health practice are the highest-earning occupations across education levels, the report says. Associate-degree holders earn the most in health practice occupations ($2.9 million), followed by computer and mathematical ($2.8 million) and architecture and engineering occupations ($2.7 million).