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 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are ranked by 2021 annual mean wage.

#35. Dietetic technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $35,410
– #45 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 160

National
– Annual mean salary: $32,920
– Employment: 26,430
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($55,550)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($52,700)
— Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($48,370)

#34. Preschool teachers, except special education

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $38,100
– #118 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 3,220

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)

#33. Veterinary technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $41,560
– #54 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 1,860

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)

#32. Forest and conservation technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $45,390
– #64 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 110

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)

#31. Morticians, undertakers, and funeral arrangers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $45,570
– #157 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 190

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,000
– Employment: 24,560
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area ($82,420)
— Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI ($79,240)
— Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH ($73,940)

#30. Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $49,070
– #23 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 940

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)

#29. Embalmers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $49,380
– #8 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 60

National
– Annual mean salary: $50,220
– Employment: 3,860
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Providence-Warwick, RI-MA ($86,140)
— St. Louis, MO-IL ($72,090)
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($70,000)

#28. Environmental engineering technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $53,460
– #51 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 220

National
– Annual mean salary: $56,570
– Employment: 17,070
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($82,240)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($81,340)
— Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA ($74,280)

#27. Radio, cellular, and tower equipment installers and repairers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $55,640
– #42 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 210

National
– Annual mean salary: $60,790
– Employment: 13,210
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI ($95,360)
— Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI ($82,470)
— Trenton, NJ ($80,110)

#26. Chemical technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $57,550
– #53 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 700

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)

#25. Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $57,880
– #18 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 290

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)

#24. Medical equipment repairers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $58,280
– #55 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 490

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)

#23. Desktop publishers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $58,630
– #8 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)

#22. Mechanical drafters

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $59,260
– #110 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 330

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)

#21. Occupational therapy assistants

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $61,160
– #123 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 470

National
– Annual mean salary: $63,420
– Employment: 42,750
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($85,570)
— Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV ($77,720)
— San Diego-Carlsbad, CA ($77,650)

#20. Industrial engineering technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $62,440
– #73 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 260

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)

#19. Physical therapist assistants

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $62,930
– #101 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 560

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)

#18. Civil engineering technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $63,590
– #60 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 560

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)

#17. Paralegals and legal assistants

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $66,310
– #17 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 4,220

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)

#16. Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $67,370
– #14 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 80

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)

#15. Architectural and civil drafters

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $67,510
– #15 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 1,860

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)

#14. Respiratory therapists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $68,450
– #84 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 940

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)

#13. Electrical and electronics drafters

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $69,110
– #29 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 480

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)

#12. Broadcast technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $69,710
– #4 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 640

National
– Annual mean salary: $49,250
– Employment: 25,960
– Metros with highest average pay:
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($75,430)
— Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY ($70,990)
— Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV ($69,950)

#11. Radiologic technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $70,930
– #66 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 1,940

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)

#10. Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $72,040
– #18 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 170

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)

#9. Computer network support specialists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $74,930
– #41 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 2,160

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)

#8. Avionics technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $75,510
– #12 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 150

National
– Annual mean salary: $69,180
– Employment: 21,390
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($92,470)
— Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX ($87,670)
— California-Lexington Park, MD ($83,930)

#7. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $77,280
– #26 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 390

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)

#6. Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $79,950
– #29 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 630

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)

#5. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $85,650
– #30 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 310

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)

#4. Diagnostic medical sonographers

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $90,290
– #41 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 720

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)

#3. Dental hygienists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $90,570
– #54 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 1,790

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)

#2. Nuclear medicine technologists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $90,790
– #19 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 150

National
– Annual mean salary: $82,080
– Employment: 17,510
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($149,860)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($148,240)
— Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA ($135,080)

#1. Radiation therapists

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
– Annual mean salary: $97,560
– #20 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 150

National
– Annual mean salary: $94,300
– Employment: 17,390
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($169,080)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($159,660)
— Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA ($131,960)


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