(STACKER) — Although it all depends on what you make of it, choosing to further your education may lead to higher paying job opportunities. An associate’s degree takes just two years and offers more affordable tuition rates than a four-year school. As of April 2022, the average yearly salary for an individual with an associate’s degree comes out to $45,989.

Students have a plethora of specialties to choose from when obtaining a 2-year degree, from industry-specific roles in health care or IT or a more generalized education path. Salaries differ between areas of study, job type, experience, and, of course, location. A Georgetown University study that looked at job growth and education requirements through 2020 stated that 30% of job openings required “at least some college or an associate’s degree.” Students can choose to head right into the workforce after earning an associate’s, or continue their education toward earning a bachelor’s degree.

The unemployment rate for associate’s degree holders is only 2%, according to research from the Education Data Initiative. Having an associate’s degree under your belt is proven to increase one’s chance of holding a professional or management position in any number of industries, among them education and health, wholesale retail and trade, and professional and business services.

Stacker compiled a list of the highest and lowest paying jobs that require a 2-year degree in Boulder, CO using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are ranked by 2021 annual mean wage.

#25. Veterinary technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $42,100
– #49 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 300

National
– Annual mean salary: $37,860
– Employment: 109,490
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($57,990)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($52,220)
— Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA ($51,340)

#24. Preschool teachers, except special education

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $42,710
– #33 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 470

National
– Annual mean salary: $36,550
– Employment: 370,940
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA ($49,990)
— Ocean City, NJ ($49,720)
— Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ ($49,560)

#23. Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $42,830
– #147 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 110

National
– Annual mean salary: $44,170
– Employment: 108,470
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($60,080)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($55,410)
— Napa, CA ($54,120)

#22. Forest and conservation technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $43,590
– #85 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 40

National
– Annual mean salary: $42,780
– Employment: 30,150
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA ($68,370)
— Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH ($66,570)
— Corvallis, OR ($62,260)

#21. Physical therapist assistants

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $54,840
– #323 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 100

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,440
– Employment: 92,740
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($85,960)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($78,740)
— Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($76,390)

#20. Chemical technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $58,720
– #39 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 340

National
– Annual mean salary: $53,700
– Employment: 63,490
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Billings, MT ($86,340)
— Alaska nonmetropolitan area ($79,390)
— Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV ($78,000)

#19. Industrial engineering technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $62,800
– #67 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 120

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,920
– Employment: 62,980
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS ($94,360)
— Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX ($90,460)
— Baton Rouge, LA ($86,020)

#18. Desktop publishers

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $65,250
– #5 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: data not available

National
– Annual mean salary: $50,600
– Employment: 7,090
– Metros with highest average pay:
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($70,880)
— Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV ($68,860)
— Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH ($66,400)

#17. Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $65,610
– #6 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 40

National
– Annual mean salary: $50,960
– Employment: 31,860
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Kennewick-Richland, WA ($79,780)
— Huntsville, AL ($78,320)
— Birmingham-Hoover, AL ($76,970)

#16. Paralegals and legal assistants

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $65,870
– #18 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 430

National
– Annual mean salary: $56,610
– Employment: 332,720
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($90,640)
— Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($76,960)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($75,640)

#15. Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $65,980
– #17 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: data not available

National
– Annual mean salary: $62,800
– Employment: 13,160
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV ($99,720)
— West Texas Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area ($99,380)
— Midland, TX ($98,040)

#14. Architectural and civil drafters

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $66,160
– #18 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 180

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,120
– Employment: 99,180
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC ($76,060)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($75,700)
— Anchorage, AK ($75,650)

#13. Medical equipment repairers

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $67,170
– #15 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 30

National
– Annual mean salary: $55,090
– Employment: 48,510
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($84,820)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($84,030)
— Reno, NV ($83,450)

#12. Civil engineering technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $68,020
– #39 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 70

National
– Annual mean salary: $56,590
– Employment: 67,270
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($92,190)
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($83,250)
— Baton Rouge, LA ($81,340)

#11. Respiratory therapists

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $70,900
– #62 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 110

National
– Annual mean salary: $65,640
– Employment: 131,890
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($113,450)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($109,330)
— Santa Rosa, CA ($101,690)

#10. Computer network support specialists

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $71,280
– #73 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 320

National
– Annual mean salary: $71,040
– Employment: 184,220
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($94,120)
— Barnstable Town, MA ($93,670)
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($92,190)

#9. Radiologic technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $72,870
– #60 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 260

National
– Annual mean salary: $64,840
– Employment: 206,720
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($127,890)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($118,480)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($118,100)

#8. Mechanical drafters

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $75,750
– #9 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 90

National
– Annual mean salary: $61,490
– Employment: 51,620
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($104,540)
— Corpus Christi, TX ($90,720)
— New Orleans-Metairie, LA ($82,590)

#7. Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $79,700
– #33 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 180

National
– Annual mean salary: $68,310
– Employment: 115,270
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Northeast Virginia nonmetropolitan area ($99,890)
— Fort Collins, CO ($91,980)
— Bakersfield, CA ($90,780)

#6. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $80,800
– #14 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 60

National
– Annual mean salary: $60,940
– Employment: 55,980
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA ($99,130)
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($94,400)
— Santa Rosa, CA ($92,140)

#5. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $83,160
– #7 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 160

National
– Annual mean salary: $60,880
– Employment: 39,880
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Baton Rouge, LA ($112,580)
— North Texas Region of Texas nonmetropolitan area ($91,580)
— New Orleans-Metairie, LA ($91,550)

#4. Electrical and electronics drafters

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $83,510
– #4 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 60

National
– Annual mean salary: $65,720
– Employment: 23,020
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($98,380)
— Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX ($86,920)
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($83,760)

#3. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $88,610
– #19 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 40

National
– Annual mean salary: $75,960
– Employment: 39,270
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($133,590)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($127,930)
— Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA ($120,550)

#2. Diagnostic medical sonographers

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $89,020
– #50 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 110

National
– Annual mean salary: $77,790
– Employment: 73,920
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($138,110)
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($137,140)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($131,080)

#1. Dental hygienists

Boulder, CO
– Annual mean salary: $90,640
– #53 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 270

National
– Annual mean salary: $78,050
– Employment: 194,830
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($125,750)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($122,660)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($119,320)


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